Raising Kids When Others are Raising Cain
Raising children challenges the patience and abilities of every parent. A parents abilities are further strained when the home environment is filled with conflicts. Conflicts are a part of daily life, yet when they are in the home even routine activities become difficult.
Conflicts can arise between spouses, with neighbors, extended family or even with the children. It is at times like this parents want to know how they can fulfill their responsibilities. Some guidelines that help maintain order during chaotic times include:
- Be realistic. Recognize that things go wrong about 20% of the time. Be willing to accept when situations are less than perfect. Unrealistic expectations underlie many domestic conflicts. Unfortunately, some people do mo know how to be in relationship without conflict. Some people are threatened by intimacy and use conflicts to make themselves feel safe. It is unrealistic to expect a relationship with those incapable of intimacy.
- Stay calm. By staying calm and speaking with a calm steady voice, a parent helps stabilize a challenging situation. Speaking excitedly, anxiously or loudly does nothing to ease the conflict.
- Use humor. Healthy humor (not sarcasm or put-downs) helps make most situations tolerable.
- Separate person from performance. Separating what a person does for who they are helps keep conflicts from being taken as personal attacks. This also allows you to emotionally distance yourself from the conflict.
- Model good manners. Even conflicts are accepted better when the other party is handled with respect. By modeling ways to deal with conflicts, our children learn how to solve their conflicts. They also learn how to conduct themselves in difficult situations.
- Love. Our children need love, especially when there are conflicts in the home. During conflicts people need more love than usual. Reassure them of how important they are to you. During and after conflicts your children may require more attention. Be willing to talk things over with them with reassurances about their status. Since children often blame themselves for conflicts, provide reassurances regarding their status.
- Think before you speak. A few unkind words can inflict damage that takes years to repair. If what is said doesn’t bring healing, it probably doesn’t need being said.
- Listen to understand. Many parents listen to defend themselves rather than listening to understand the party initiating the conflict.
- Be open minded. Recognize and acknowledge there is another way to look at things. A willingness to hear the other party can reduce tension. It is important to note that hearing them out does not mean agreeing with them or giving in.
Working through rather than around conflicts requires time and effort. These guidelines can help parents during the difficult times of conflict by providing them with ways to respond to conflict situations. The guidelines can be applied in part or whole. Once there is order, parents can then devote their resources to solving the conflicts.