The hand doesn’t win

You have hopes and dreams for your family. You want your family to be all it can be. You want closeness, more love, less drama. You want reconciliation and healing.

You also want your family to feel good to you.

So how do you go there? How do you move in that direction? How do you influence your family?

One way you can influence your family: the hand

But the hand is pushy

It might overtly push. It might subtly manipulate. The hand just wants its way. That doesn’t mean the hand wants a bad thing. It can be a very good thing. We’re talking about how you go about getting it, how you influence your family towards it.

The hand influences by fear of punishment, or fear of harm or negative consequences. Punishment does not have to mean the hand will actually strike you; it just means it’s not worth it to resist.

You can get people to do what you want, especially if you develop the skill persistently over the years. It doesn’t matter if anyone actually wants to or is convinced. Results now are what matters.

The hand is the easiest way to try to influence

It’s the default of men, since we’re wired for strength and protection and stuff. Everybody likes to go with their default because it’s easy.

But anyone can master the hand. The hand is not just the domain of dad and sometimes mom. Kids learn pretty quick how to get their way. Siblings gravitate to it, and so do some of those cousins and relatives heading your way this Thanksgiving.

The hand is not artistic or relational. Art and relationships involve mystery and patience. The hand already knows what’s best and thinks you should too.

The hand can work, but that doesn’t mean it wins

It doesn’t win if relationships are harmed. You can win the battle and lose the war. The war is won in relationships.

You can fool yourself when you push and get your way with family members. It feels like you won, and winning feels good. But it’s empty if family members just decide it’s in their short-term best interest to obey the hand, that it’s not worth it to resist. They don’t like it and they don’t like you.

Majoring on the hand will affect your relationships and your influence in all other areas.

I don’t like talking about the hand because it feels negative and icky, but that’s the nature of the hand: it doesn’t care much what people think or how they feel. That’s why you save it for last, for when the damage is already bad and something has to change. Then meet the hand.

When have you been pushed towards a good thing, but in a way you resisted? How did it affect your relationship with the pusher?

Tomorrow: a better way that wins more often.

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A Family Like Yours is 31 Days of encouragement to help you appreciate, influence, and love the family you have (no matter what).

This is day 23.

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About the Author


Gary Morland helps you feel better about your most challenging family relationships, and helps you actually improve those relationships - all by adopting simple attitudes, perspectives, expectations, and actions (the same ones that changed him and his family).


  1. I agree, the hand is a negative force. We were all born to be free and to learn to navigate the consequences of our decisions. If we had/have an authority figure (parent, guardian, pastor, mentor, teacher etc) to guide us in our freedoms and through the consequences of our decisions, we will learn to live free from the hand.

    This was a fun read. Thanks.

  2. Cara

    I am so glad you put this into words! My mother uses the hand. So much has been spoiled because of it. Described in this way might make it easier for me not to do it! Thank you for posting this!

  3. ALT

    Wow. Gary, this is incredible. I have never seen anyone describe this experience in such a relational yet objective way.
    My poor father, he has so many personal concerns, there was so much fear and anxiety created by disobedience from children. It wasn’t about us, it was always about him. Results were all he wanted, and that’s what he got. Now that he needs nothing from me, nothing is all we have together.
    I hope maybe someday we can find grace for each other. I know it’s possible, but he has to be ready for it.

  4. m

    I don’t know what to say here:( The hand has always been a hurtful thing, in my life! But, I suppose the hand has made me who I am today…a better person! Is that possible? Of course, Jesus has HIS hand in my life, making all things work together for my good…I’m mumbling.. I’ll stop…blessings & <3 M

    • Totally possible. The hand isn’t bad. Just has its limits. Thx!

  5. lyricpdx

    Well done, Gary. Thank you for yet another instance where you put a vague, fuzzy concept into concrete, handleable (yes, I just made up that word) terms.

  6. Tondra Denise

    This is good stuff right here! I coach and consult child care providers and preschool teachers, and I am always looking for new ways to explain to them the importance of being intentional in their teacher-child interactions. I have noticed that when adults become frustrated or do not understand a child’s behavior, some default to the hand. The hand rushes children along, takes toys from them, pushes them into corners to “think about” what they have done, but it does nothing to restore. Thank you for this… I will definitely be sharing!

  7. Weary warrior

    wow, this was one sad post. My father did this w anger. We had no relationship but when he was dying I went to help him. I let go of all my expectations and just became his nurse. It was so difficult and painful but it was joyful to be able to give to him. I realized I could not be real or expect a real relationship but I could serve him. Setting aside my need for approval & love from him was difficult but it worked. God brought incredible healing & it was deeply satisfying. Same thing happened w my stepmother, I just gave up my expectations to be approved of. I don’t think she ever realized how hurtful she was. Took 25 years to let it go for her, way longer for my father. Amazing I have a lovely relationship now and I never expect anything. Love covered those multitude of sins, there was no conversation, no working things out. It was all grace, pure grace.

    Hard to live with it in your own home though. Sadly, my husband doesn’t know he does it and telling him makes him more depressed. Silence is a dark & oppressive victor. It feels unkind to say this but I’m afraid to say anything & the silence is eating me alive. Lord teach me to pray for light. Hear the groaning of my heart and give me peace. Part the seas and help me walk on dry ground.


  1. […] influence of the hand cares mostly about results. Just git er […]

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