Have you ever looked in the mirror and asked yourself am I a controlling person? I know I sure have. Honestly it’s something I ask myself on a weekly basis. Look, I know I like things the way I like them. That’s being decisive, isn’t it? Perhaps. It’s all fine and dandy if it involved only me. The tricky part comes when I am interacting with other people. Like my spouse, my daughters, my coworkers, my parents, you get the drift. I have long thought of myself of a “control enthusiast”. I am decisive and I move quickly, end of story. That being said I tend to have encounters with others where I ask myself am I a controlling person. It can straddle a fine line sometimes, see if you can relate.
I have 2 daughters. One is 20 and is a junior in college. The other is 17 and is a junior in high school. I love them both immensely. They both drive me crazy. My relationship with the 2 of them is probably the biggest area when I ask myself am I a controlling person. A couple of situations.
My 20 year old junior has run out of the money that was saved up for her college years. Through a few questionable choices almost $5,000 that was saved was essentially flushed down the toilet. Did I get angry? Just a little bit. After that I made peace with it and said hey, it’s a sunk cost, it essentially shifts the responsibility on to her. When the money is gone, it’s gone. She will have to figure out a way to pay for the rest of her school. To which point loans have recently come into play.
As this past semester wore on I knew she was going to run out of money. I tried suggesting she apply for a loan early in the semester. Then again mid-semester. Then late semester. And so it went until BOOM, she was out of money before the end of the semester. Saw that one coming didn’t you? But she’s 20, she should be able to take care of this for herself. Neither myself or my wife should nag her ongoing to take care of something that benefits her, right? You wouldn’t think so but hey, she’s 20. I think of myself at 20 and I get it. But it’s so frustrating to watch from the outside. And this is a perfect example of when I ask myself am I a controlling person.
Yes, of course I want the best for my daughters. My biggest goal with my daughters is to help teach them how to take care of themselves physically, mentally, emotionally, and financially. So it frustrates the heck out of me when they don’t. Am I a controlling person for attempting to teach them to take care of themselves?
Where do I start? Remember, she’s 17. Pretty much says it all. I was thinking about this the other day when she was driving me crazy. I’m going to write another post at some point about how it’s easier to take care of a baby than it is my 17 year old. Why? Because a baby you can basically force to eat something decent and go to sleep. Anyway, I digress.
Let’s start with food. For the longest time my youngest would complain on a DAILY basis about how much her stomach hurt. Which would lead me to ask things like “what did you eat today”? Answers like “nothing” or “I don’t remember” or “some cookies” were not uncommon. And this went on for years. Thankfully things have not be quite like that lately. But of course at each complaint about how much her stomach hurt coupled with the crap she tossed into her stomach would have me say something like “you know eating some REAL food would probably help that”. To which I would hear “I know”. So, am I a controlling person for suggesting she eat real food when she would complain about how much her stomach hurt? I don’t know, you tell me.
Sleep and being tired is another issue. I hear on a fairly regular basis how tired my youngest is. When I suggest she get more sleep by I don’t know, maybe putting down her phone and turning off the light earlier, I get the typical teenager response of “I know”. So, am I a controlling person by offering the same common sense suggestion every time she says she is tired? Maybe. Or maybe I should just keep my mouth shut and nod my head. Probably the better way to approach it.
So my wife just looked over my shoulder and read the title to this post. Her immediate reaction and response to me was “YES!” So guess what honey, this part is for YOU!
Let’s look at a recent example. The bookstore my wife managed for several years got closed by the parent company about 2.5 years ago. At that time she had a 401k account with that company. She has had the opportunity to roll that previous 401k into her current company that she has worked at for 2 years. And she still hasn’t done it. Let me say that again – it’s been 2 YEARS. Every time I bring it up I get that wife stare. You know the one don’t you? The one that says f**k you and how dare you say that to me all at once.
Just a month or so ago I suggested it would be great if she could do that before the end of the year. To which I got the usual eye roll and “stop telling me what to do” And to her credit she did take another step towards it. Now she needs to get some form notarized and send it in. And that’s it. Has she done it? No. Have I said anything about it the last few weeks? No, and I probably won’t. Because if I do, well, you know. If I do I may be told I am a controlling person. So what do you think? Am I a controlling person for wanting her to roll her previous 401k into a current one so it can actually make some money for our retirement?
I was thinking about this the last few days. I was thinking about how I interact with my fellow associates as well as my manager and others. And you know what? I can’t really think of anyone who has ever said I am a controlling person. I am pretty collaborative and offer my opinion when it’s asked and when it’s appropriate. There are a few things I am pretty freaking good at and honestly that’s why I have a job, for being really good at those few things. People look to me as the expert in that area and let me lead and ask my opinion about those things. I don’t demand they get done a certain way, I simply suggest that doing things a certain way typically will yield the best results. And that is usually the way we go. So the answer is no when I ask myself am I a controlling person at work. The answer is probably not, I’ve never heard that I am.
People I Don’t Know
Look, I’m not going to lie to you. I think certain things should be done a certain way. That being said it’s usually how I like to do them. I don’t really care how others do the same thing. For instance shopping is a good example. I am an efficiency shopper. That means I research what I want and at what store I can buy it at. Then I find out if what I want is in stock at that store. If it is I go to the store, locate the item, try it on if it’s clothes, and if I like what I see, I buy it. Then I leave the store and move on to my next task or errand. End of story. Do I care if you are the type of shopper that takes 2 hours to accomplish what takes me 15 minutes? Not at all, I don’t care. Do what works for you.
So while I like things the way I like them and do things the way I want to I don’t care how others do them. And I don’t force my opinion on someone else that they should do something a certain way. I honestly don’t care. Do it the way it works for you and I’ll do it the way it works for me. And we are all happy and living our own lives. End of story.
My Conclusion – What’s Yours?
As I mentioned at the beginning of this post I often ask myself am I a controlling person. As I’ve written this article I’ve come the the realization that I am not a controlling person. I tend to live my life and let others live theirs. I want others to be happy and I am a huge pay it forward type of person. When someone asks for my help in something I am happy to provide whatever assistance I can and expect nada in return.
Now my family life is a bit different. I want the best for my daughters and I work hard to teach them lessons that I feel will help them learn to take care of themselves when they are on their own. I’ll never force them to do anything. I strongly suggest sometimes but never force. If they insist on doing things a certain way and I know that’s going to crash and burn I let it happen. After all, that’s how we learn right?
And regarding my wife I view it in a similar way. Retirement is a “WE” thing. We both need to be working towards that. After all, it isn’t for me, it’s for us. And we both need to do our part to get to where we want to be. That’s not being controlling, that’s being smart.
Don’t you agree honey?