Share This Episode
Family Life Today Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine Logo

The High Cost of Controlling Behavior: Tim Kimmel

Family Life Today / Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine
The Truth Network Radio
February 20, 2023 5:15 am

The High Cost of Controlling Behavior: Tim Kimmel

Family Life Today / Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine

On-Demand Podcasts NEW!

This broadcaster has 1109 podcast archives available on-demand.

Broadcaster's Links

Keep up-to-date with this broadcaster on social media and their website.

February 20, 2023 5:15 am

Why is high control so dangerous? Author Tim Kimmel exposes various types and causes of controlling behavior, from passive manipulation to aggressive control.

Show Notes and Resources

Find resources from this podcast at

See resources from our past podcasts.

Find more content and resources on the FamilyLife's app!

Help others find FamilyLife. Leave a review on Apple Podcast or Spotify.

Check out all the FamilyLife podcasts on the FamilyLife Podcast Network


The Bible makes it real clear we are not supposed to control our children. We're supposed to keep them under control. There's a big difference. If I'm in a management or leadership position and I've got to keep people under control, I can do that graciously, keeping everybody's uniqueness and identity and safety and allowing them to be vulnerable.

But when I want to control them, it's the selfish agenda. Welcome to Family Life Today, where we want to help you pursue the relationships that matter most. I'm Dave Wilson.

And I'm Ann Wilson. And you can find us at or on the Family Life app. This is Family Life Today.

All right. So 30-plus years ago, we started speaking for the Family Life Weekend to Remember Marriage Getaways. And my very first one was with the guy sitting in the studio today, Tim Kimmel. I remember when you came home from this conference. It was incredible. You weren't with me on that one.

I was alone. But Tim, you probably don't remember this. My next one was with you as well in Orlando, where we are right now. You'll never remember this, but you called me beforehand and said, and by the way, welcome, Tim Kimmel, to Family Life Today. And mind you, you're 32 years old at this time when you started speaking. Yeah, I was 32.

We'd been married about 10, 12 years, 10 years, 10 years. Anyway, you called and said, hey, just got to ask you a question. You know, you're an author, Little House on the Freeway had been out and a known personality. And you had your ministry going, which is called? At that time, Family Matters, but it's now called Grace Based Families.

Yeah, so it was Family Matters then. And you probably don't remember this, but you said, hey, just want to give you a heads up. We've got a camera crew that would like to film some of the stuff I'm doing at the Weekend Remember.

Oh, that's right. And I just want to make sure you're okay with that because they're going to be there and they're even going to film our sessions and then film people in the lobby. And I'm like, oh, that'd be great. So I get there. And you do the first session and then I'm going to come up after you and do the second session.

Oh, I remember. You walk up on stage and three huge cameras are set up in the room. The lights are on. Guys get up behind them, lights come on, camera goes on and you go on. And the whole room's like, wow, who is this guy? This guy is important because look at all this stuff. And then, you know, you take a five, ten minute break and then I walk up, no lights, camera guys leave, the cameras are just sitting in the room and the whole audience is like, this guy's nobody. You know what I remember about that conference, Tim, is Dave came home and he said, this guy is one of the most phenomenal speakers I've ever heard in my life.

And he could be a comedian, but the content that he's delivering is amazing and his walk with God is even more inspiring. Wow, thank you. You taught me the ropes. You probably don't remember this. You called me after the first conference. You said, can I give you some feedback? You probably don't remember this.

Maybe you did this with all the newer, younger speakers. And you said, make the conference yours. I'm like, what do you mean?

He goes, you know, family life material is great and you're going to walk through that, but own it and make it Dave Wilson's. What's unique to you? And you probably don't know this, but one of the reasons I take a guitar to every conference I do and do music is that's who I am. And I'm not a singer.

I'm not ever going to be recorded as a singer, but music was something that enhanced it and all I know is that changed. Well, that's good to know. It's fun to circle back with people that I've known so long.

And even though we might not talk for months or even years at a gap and you just pick up right where we left off. I think that's one of the neat things about the family of the Lord and all. But it's been fun watching you on your journey and how God took your marriage that wasn't on life support, but it was getting there. And you're in the midst of ministry.

Can that be done? Oh, absolutely. The miraculous still happens. And then God gave you that platform. I always found that being a speaker for the weekend to remember, I would always come home and think, oh, Lord, I needed that. If the only reason you put me on here is just for the accountability to my own marriage and relationship with Darcy, thank you.

But it was fun to make the friends and team with people like you. Tim, how many years have you and Darcy been married? We just celebrated our 50th anniversary.

What? Congratulations. How many kids? Grandkids?

We have four kids and 10 grandkids. But you know, when I see the picture of all of us together, and by the way, as you know, the more grandkids you get and the kids get married, it's harder to gather them all together and have them all smiling in the same direction at the same time. But as I look at that, I remember when it was just Darcy and I in that picture. And I had no idea how many kids we'd have, who they'd marry, whatever. But one thing I did find out along the way is that where we are with the Lord and how much we appropriate His truth and grace into the mainframe of our life determines whether those smiles are photoshopped or authentic. And we just found that God has given us something that takes, you know, frail, goofy, screwed up, broken people. And He still does something, writes beautiful love stories out of them. And we give birth to these kids, they're so cute for the first, you know, day or two.

And then they realize that kid has a mind of his own. And you wish that... You wish you could control them. Well, it's interesting as you talk about the picture of you and Darcy and the whole clan, you tear up. After 50 years, you're still emotional about that's really what matters, which is beautiful.

Well, I know that it'd be so easy to find our sense of purpose and everything from so many things in life, but I don't want to be a real downer for the people listening. But here's my observation is that year after I'm dead, I'm not going to cross hardly anybody's minds. I will have been forgotten. And so will they, except by my family. Legacy.

And they won't forget. I have in my office a picture of my family of the kids and Darcy in individual things. On the left, I have a picture of the Jamison Memorial Hospital in Newcastle, Pennsylvania. That's where I was born.

And on the right is the obelisk in the middle of Graceland Cemetery says Kimmel on it. And that's where my ancestors and all there's room for me if we so choose. And when I look at that, I say, OK, here's where you came in.

Here's where you're checking out. But don't forget for a second. This is the biggest reason you're here. Doesn't mean we can't do other things. It doesn't mean we worship our family.

It doesn't mean we get immersed or anything like that. Everybody has their space, but this is where we'll make the biggest difference. And we can do that well, or we can do that poorly. We write so much as a script of their future. And so that's why I think it's really important that we make sure that God's grace is in the driver's seat. Otherwise, we become nightmarish height controllers that they leave too many regrets behind.

We don't need to do that. Yeah, which is what we're going to talk about today, because you wrote a book decades ago about doing it right and not doing it wrong. You've written 16 books, and you and Darcy have impacted Dave and I so much, so many people. But this book is pretty amazing.

That's why we wanted to bring it back out. Yeah, I don't know if you remember it. It's been so long ago, but it's called The High Cost of High Control, How to Deal with Powerful Personalities. So let's talk about that, because if there's anything none of us want to be, and we don't even like being around people like that, high control people. What are the attributes of high control people? How about we start with the definition, because in some ways, I'm an equal opportunity offender. And in this book, I pretty much make sure that I've covered every one of us, including me. But here's how I define high control.

It's when I leverage the strength of my personality or my position against your weaknesses in order to get you to meet my selfish agenda. For instance, let's say parent-child, we have the talk about authority and the position. We're the parents, right? But the Bible makes it real clear we are not supposed to control our children. We're supposed to keep them under control.

There's a big difference. And see, if I'm in a management or leadership position and I got to keep people under control, I can do that graciously, keeping everybody's uniqueness and identity and safety and allowing them to be vulnerable. But when I want to control them, it's the selfish agenda. Here's what I think for our discussion, people listening, I think all of us would do better when it comes to this discussion on high control is to assume, going in, that we all have some degree of it. Obviously, some are way off the charts and they're very obvious. But there are subtle ways, and as we get to talk about them, you'll see the different ways that we control people.

So you're saying for that listener that's like, I'm super laid back. I don't feel like I'm controlling at all. You're saying, no, it's in there. Well, I think all of us have that tendency to slip over that thin line of relationships and make decisions or impose our wishes on people that aren't really ours to do. But we want to do it, Tim.

I'm good at it. Yeah, exactly. And a lot of it is just self-protection.

You figure, hey, if I don't look after myself, nobody else will. And some people are in that situation where they clearly feel that. But we all have that tendency. And here's the other thing.

I think all of us clearly can think of somebody. I like to say you're either looking down the barrel of a high controller or you're looking down the sights. But one way or the other, this is just a human problem.

And obviously, extreme high controllers can be very toxic to relationships. But there's a mild view of it, though, that I think can still be like that slow leak in a relationship. We were on a family vacation one time, and we had a blowout on a freeway. So I had to change the tire, took it in the next day to the place, and I said, yeah, I had a big blowout. And the guy said, yeah, you had a slow leak in here. No, I had a blowout. You had a slow leak. It blew out the side of the car.

And this is on a trip we were going from Phoenix up to San Francisco. He said, can I ask you a question? Before you left, was that tire low? Yeah. And you put some air in it, didn't you? Yeah, you have a nail in it. And when we see relationships just blow up, marriage just blow up, parent-child thing, we think, oh, it just kind of came out of nowhere. No. It had a slow leak.

It's had a slow leak for some time. And so mild high control can steal so much joy out of a relationship, and it doesn't necessarily mean people are going to split up or get divorced. And you might have a decent highlight reel, but you had nothing remotely close to the kind of love story you could have written. Well, how do we know? I mean, you know, when you said, you know, you might be looking down the sites. In other words, you might be the one that has high control and you don't realize it. Like you said earlier, I think it's easy to see in other people.

I would say I saw it in Anne early in our marriage. You're not a high control person, but I felt controlled. She's trying to change me.

And I did the same thing to her, but I think we don't see it. So how do you know if you're that person? Let me throw out three questions. This can set the stage for us, figuring out the different types of controllers.

How would you answer this? I feel I'm responsible for the outcome of the lives around me. Yes.

That's apparent, isn't it? Yeah. But when those kids are teenagers and they're already on a trajectory towards independence, and we continue to want to manage, micromanage, make all the decisions for them, boom. Yeah, I think as moms, especially, we're feeling like this is my, these kids are my responsibility.

We feel that. How about this one? The only way to get something done right is do it myself.

Here's one more. Okay, you can just stop. You just got me. If I don't help someone make a right decision, do the right thing, go the right place, who will? Isn't that my God-given role and responsibility? Okay, obviously we have a responsibility. If you want to put this in a parent-child relationship, let me give you a little idea on that.

I kind of look at the parent-child relationship as when we're parents, we have two basic dynamics that we have, big jobs we have. We have to protect our kids. And then we have to prepare them to be out on their own. Two different things. Obviously when they're first born, this is clearly the age of protection. Right. Because they can't do anything. They're helpless. So you have high control.

We're controlling so many of the things, where they eat, what they eat, when they sleep, all that stuff. But here's what's interesting, is that as they get about six years old, you want to start really backing down that protection. At six. At six. Between six and 12, you want to start a nose dive on that. Now most parents would think, wait, wait, wait, maybe at 12, but at six.

Okay, let me tell you why. Because between six and 12, we mature the fastest. Physically, neurologically, emotionally, intellectually, everything. They're growing really fast. So what you want to do is, as they're starting to mature faster, start to hand more life over to them.

Yeah. And then when they get out in about 12, 13 years old, you're hardly making any of the big decisions in their life. And that brings up the age of preparation. So they're now at boot camp for adult life, and they're going to go through the teenage years, and they're running, making a lot of decisions in their life. Now here's what I can guarantee a parent. If you give your teenager the option to make a lot of decisions as a teenager, they're going to make some lousy ones.

Yeah. Okay, don't panic. Don't panic. Just don't circumvent any of the consequences.

Let them learn from all their mistakes, and you keep moving on. Here's the problem that I think a lot of parents make, especially high-control parents, is we start the age of protection, and we maintain it all the way, as long as they're under our roof. But Tim, do you see the world we're living in? Yeah, yeah. Isn't it my responsibility to protect them? Well, if you want to raise a nice, safe kid, that's the way you do it. And you also send a wimp into the future. You send a pushover. So we protect them all the way, then we send them off to Pagan State University.

And they drink beer by the keg and buy condoms by the gross. And we say, what happened? Well, we didn't bring them up to speed. And listen, if my kids, if your kids, if any of our listeners' kids are going to struggle and work through some tough stuff, wouldn't you rather them do that under your roof? Yeah. For sure.

I always said that, and other parents would look at me like I was crazy. It's like, they're going to sin. Yeah. And I sort of want them to sin while they're still here. We want to help them walk them through it. We love them. We're going to get you through this.

We can be part of the recovery. Right. Yeah. Right. Our job isn't necessarily to protect them, but to walk them through life. Right.

Early it is. Early on, we're protecting them. But guess what? God has not called us to raise a bunch of safe kids. He's called us to raise a bunch of strong kids.

Here's the good news. See, if you raise a safe kid, as I said, you might get a very safe kid, also very passive. Fearful. Fearful kid.

Yeah. If you raise a strong kid, you usually get a safe one thrown in, just because they're just more at ease in the hostile world. We didn't want to raise kids who could survive in the adult world. We wanted to raise kids who would thrive in the hostile adult world, meaning no matter how bad it is, it just draws them closer to the Lord. It causes them to default to the things that they know they can count on more.

And to start thinking for themselves and taking it to Jesus. Give us an example of what that could have looked like for you guys. Our youngest son, born named Colt. When our son came home from college, he graduated from college, and I let him use our green Jeep Grand Cherokee while he was off at college. He came home and his graduation gift, we got him a new car, and he was launching, you know. And so I gave those keys to that green Jeep Grand Cherokee to Colt, who was in high school. And I said, here, you can use this for the duration of high school. I gave them to him on a Thursday morning, and I took them away from him Thursday night.

Didn't even last 24 hours. By the way, our son graduated in December, so Christmas was coming up. And the kids were all out with their friends, and Darcy was wrapping gifts, and I was paying some bills online at the bank, and the doorbell rang, and there were two Phoenix police officers at the front door. Oh, no. Now, you gotta understand that the first question they ask you, do you own a green Jeep Grand Cherokee?

And you're thinking. You know, either, oh, has it been in a horrible accident, what's wrong? And she'd call me down, and I'd say, yeah. He said, well, apparently, some kids were out taking some yard decorations for some people and rearranging them in disgusting ways and running on their roof and all, and your car was a getaway car. I said, well, I know the driver.

Hang on. So I called up Colt. I said, Colt, two Phoenix finisher at our front door.

They need to talk to you. You need to get home. And so we sat there and visited with them, and then they kind of pulled, one motion of the other took down the end of our sidewalk, and they came back and said, look, we're going to let you two handle this one. I said, he's on his way home.

He'll be here, and he said, we got a lot on our plate. We're going to let you handle this one. They took off one direction. He came the other direction. I said, well, apparently, you're having fun at somebody else's expense.

They call the cops on you. We're going to have to go talk to them. So we went over to their house, and it was an elderly couple. He was a big, thick barrel chested man. She was a little tiny waif of a size zero lady, and they had accents that were from Eastern Europe wrapped in the door, and they came, and there was a screen door there, and I said, hi, I'm Tim Kimmel. It was our car and my son that was here earlier this evening messing with your stuff in your yard.

He's up at Colt, he's taller than me. And it was his turn. He went over to look through the thing and says, hi, my name's Colt Kimmel, and I'm an idiot. Well, what was funny, and honestly, what happened next? I would have paid her to do this. She did it for free. That little tiny waif of a lady came out and got in my son's grill and just let him have it.

He said, I can't believe you do this. You frightened me to death. We came from Eastern Europe. We wanted to die in America. We became citizens. We love Christmas.

We wanted to do this for our neighbors, and you were moving things around and running on our roof. And I was so afraid. All the way, he said, ma'am, I am so sorry. There is no excuse for this. I am absolutely 100%.

By the way, there are three other people in a car. But he was doing exactly what I expected my son to do, take full responsibility. Good for him.

And he did. And so he said, can I help? And they said, no, we'll take care.

How about I come over and do some chores for you tomorrow? We got it. But we're okay. And I said, will you call the cops if you want to get them here?

No, we're fine. See, I wasn't going to circumvent the police coming into that. I wasn't going to do that. I didn't think they're going to send them off to prison for anything. But they're going to deal with them and let it happen. And we went home and I said, give me the keys.

You'll see them in a month. But that wasn't controlling, Tim, you're saying? No, it was. It was over.

Yeah. I'm a parent. I have to.

He did something really bad. Here's consequences. Here's your discipline. But I didn't say, oh, you embarrass me. You humiliated me. Come on.

I'm in a ministry. We have a reputation. I can't believe, you know, I didn't say I can't believe you do something stupid like that. I did stupid things like that. We give birth to sinners.

We shouldn't be surprised they do that. Our job is to catch them. So you asked me for an example. That's kind of a long one. Yeah.

But I mean, it's a perfect example of you were protecting Colt and your other kids when they were young. Yeah. But that's preparing. Yeah.

This is life. There will be consequences. I'm not going to go and give the police a hard time and you got to have the wrong kid or go to these people. I think you're overreacting. No, no. They weren't overreacting.

They were scared. And you let him experience the consequences. Right. Yeah. There's three types of controllers. There's aggressive controllers. There's passive controllers. And then there's a combination of the two passive-aggressive controllers. Oh, Tim, go to the second one, that passive controller.

What does that look like? Well, I'll give you an example. In the book, I give names to each one of them to start with the name, the masked controller. They don't tell the people up close to them the truth about them. They have a family past. They have some deep dark secret and all that stuff, but that doesn't come out in the open, but that's holding them hostage. And as a result, they're doing a lot of things and manipulating to try and keep you from knowing that, that make them into controllers. Not being forthright about the things they've dealt with.

How about the miser? The miser is a person who uses money and things to manipulate people's behavior. Now, they might be generous, but there's always strings attached. Another way a miser can work in a marriage is sex. They can dish it out when they want something in return. I think parents can do that, especially with adult kids.

Hey, I'm going to give you this money, but there's all these strings attached to that. The magnifier is another type of passive controller. If we wrote a little note on the side of a balloon, then we'd blow the balloon up.

The thing is much bigger than it originally was. Now, a magnifier is a person that they magnify a situation way beyond what it is in order to ultimately just back away from it. They use the expression, yes, but.

However, you didn't consider. It's not that simple because they're not wanting to, by the way, this is very common in a marriage, especially if an adventurous person marries a person that is careful. Yep. It's our marriage. My marriage with Darcy. I wonder who's the adventurous one, too. I'm not sure. And if you're ahead of a lot of fears, you would easily fall into this category of taking something that really is not that big of a threat or an issue and magnifying it so that ultimately I don't even have to try to take this risk.

I mean, how do you how do you balance that out? Because in some ways I was too adventurous with the boys and she did a great job, but she had fears. Well, at first I was super controlling. Yeah. Once again, here, let's go back to our definition, because that saves us. High control is when I leverage the strength of my personality and my position against your weaknesses in order to get you to meet my selfish agenda.

It's not a selfish agenda. If you're taking the kids skydiving when they're eight years old and she's saying, I think this is a bad idea. Yeah. OK. I'm exaggerating to make a point.

But it's not far. But I wouldn't do it at eight, but maybe nine. But it could well be that there's just some selfish things that I don't like my schedule messed up. I don't want to be disrupted.

I would rather not have to deal with the aftermath of this adventure of yours, which means I have a lot more work to do when the kids get home. All that stuff. That's controlling. Yeah.

A marshmallow controller. And some of the nicest people I know are some of the most effective passive controllers. They're sensitive. They're sweet. They're compassionate. They're loyal.

About as understanding as anyone could be. But they can play a situation to their liking simply by refusing to do anything when it's time to do something. You know, they're all real nice, but they won't make that move. And these are forms of control because once again, they have a selfish desire and are using their lack of action to ultimately get the person, OK, I'll do it. I'll just do it.

You won't have to mess with this or we won't do it. So if a person is listening and they're thinking, maybe I have some of these. How do they discover if they're truly a high control and it's too much out of control? Well, let's go back to something we said at the beginning. I think we're all better off if we just come at this whole subject assuming we struggle with it. Because that puts us in a best position.

First of all, be open to learn and figure out ways we do it and also to keep it in check. You know, AA is a very effective system. And if a person is an alcoholic and they go to an AA meeting, they stand up, the very first thing they better say is their name and that they're an alcoholic. Because why is that so profound of that thing? They say, stop kidding yourself.

Assume this is reality. Because now we're in a position, OK, yeah, I'm this, I'm going to do something about it. I'm saying that I should say I'm Ann Wilson and I'm controlling. Every person could say that.

You're listening to Dave and Ann Wilson with Tim Kimmel on family life today. You know, Tim's got a really good reason why we shouldn't be controlling. In fact, it's probably the biggest reason why. He's going to share that in just a minute. But first, we really believe here at family life that a relationship with God is the ultimate desire that sits at the center of every human being. What we always need is connection with God. And when you partner with us to make every home a godly home, you're literally advancing the work of taking the gospel that makes that connection possible to homes across the world. So would you consider partnering with us at family life to see the gospel work come to fruition? When you do, we'd love to send you a copy of Tim Kimmel's book, The High Cost of High Control. It's our thanks to you when you partner financially with us today.

You can give online at or you can give us a call at 800-358-6329. That's 800, F as in family, L as in life, and then the word today. All right, here's Tim Kimmel with why we shouldn't be controlling, as tempting as that might be. Think about it. Does God control us?

The answer is no. Could God control us? Yes. Absolutely. Does He have the right to control us?

Absolutely. He could make us automatons, but He doesn't. What He does is gives us good reason to trust Him, to follow Him, to live for Him. His love compels us.

Yeah. But He does not muscle down on us and say, you're going to do this. I'll make your life absolutely miserable if you don't do it my way. I mean, you read in Isaiah and Jeremiah talking about, why is it that some of these people that are so despicable have some of the best lives out there?

And here's these people trying to do it, and they're struggling. Well, that's life, but God doesn't control us, and we shouldn't control each other. So maybe some of today's show kind of hit home or felt a little bit familiar.

Maybe you're thinking, so why do they treat you like this? Well, listen tomorrow because Dave and Anne are back with Tim Kimmel to tell us where controlling behavior actually originates. We hope you'll join us. On behalf of Dave and Anne Wilson, I'm Shelby Abbott. We'll see you back next time for another edition of Family Life Today. Family Life Today is a production of Family Life, a crew ministry helping you pursue the relationships that matter most.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-02-20 08:10:58 / 2023-02-20 08:24:08 / 13

Get The Truth Mobile App and Listen to your Favorite Station Anytime