Parenting: Resolving Family Conflict
Parenting: Resolving Family Conflict
Jayne Major, Ph.D. (Parenting Educator & Child Custody Consultant, Breakthrough Parenting Services, Inc. ) gives expert video advice on: How do I prevent conflicts with my child?; How do I resolve a conflict with my child? and more...
What is "conflict"?
With regards to resolving family conflict in parenting, conflict is when two people have a different point of view about how something should be. Conflict is a very healthy thing, we have this attitude that it conflict is kind of a bad thing, but it isn't. If we didn't have conflict no-one would grow. Conflict is a very healthy thing; if people know how to solve their problems then they can resolve their conflict. But, if people don't know how to resolve it and get into drama, emotionality and so on, then they escalate the conflict into something that is really horrible.
When is the best time to present a problem and resolve a conflict?
In terms of solving conflict, whether it be with another adult or with a child, timing is kind of important. It's very important. If someone is tired and is just definitely not in the mood, that's not a good time to solve problems. But what I found with our children was really amazing. We would have these big gnarly problems. And what I discovered is that right after dinner was the most astonishingly good time to solve problems. Not during dinner, but after everybody has a full tummy and they're relaxed, I found that we could just cut to the chase very quickly with the kinds of problems that we were having. So it is important to have good timing about this kind of thing, and if it starts escalating into an emotional thing, take a time out. Just don't give up. That's not the idea. But in order to really solve problems that have a conflict element to it, you need to be rational. People who are in their emotional side, that's not rational and that's not logical.
What do I do if my child and I can't resolve our conflict?
Sometimes we need to go to another person to help us figure out what is a solution so it's a win-win. This is the point that it ends up being a win-win solution for you and for me. And when it's a win-win you've really resolved the conflict. A win-win may also be agreeing to disagree because in the modern way you don't have to have the rigidity of the old authoritarian it's my way or the high way. It's that this is a situation where I don't agree with you and you don't agree with me. We're going to agree to disagree and let it rest. If it's not an emergency, why not? People can have different values and different ways of thinking and doing things. If it's not something that's unsafe or something like that, okay. You have your point of view. I don't agree with you. In many families you have people who are from one political party versus another political party. You can agree to disagree on this stuff. I mean it kind of makes a rich kind of family life that we're not all exactly clones of each other. That's not what life is about.
When should I find professional help for a family conflict?
People ought to be seeking out professional help when the conflict that is chronic is just not getting better. Nowadays, there is so much help available. There's the whole parent education thing and learning skills. But now there are therapists, now there's mediators, there's endless people who are trained, have heavy-duty training. You can't believe the training that they have had that you haven't had. And you can call them to help undersand the situation and figure this stuff out. So go get professiona help. Don't have that arrogant pride. Somebody just told me recently, "Well, he doesn't believe in therapists." So he's got a daughter that's dropped out of high school at age 16 and is utterly dysfunctional, nobody likes her and so and so forth, and he doesn't believe in therapy? I mean, please! Get off of that. That's dysfunctional.