What is your immediate response to conflict? Do you wish it didn’t exist or could be eliminated from life completely? Do you always back off and do nothing in a quest for and a belief in ‘anything for a quiet life’?
So if conflict is inevitable what are some of the keys to dealing with it effectively?
- Don’t attack the person, rather challenge the behaviour. A young person can cope with you saying they can do better, can turn that C grade into a B grade, that B into an A, but they can’t handle you saying how they’re no good, they’re stupid and they’re a failure. They will begin to believe it for themselves and fall into the classic self-fulfilling prophecies.
- Stick to the issue that is current. Don’t drag into the argument all the other times when you have felt let down.
- Remember the power of the tongue. The Bible likens it to the power of a rudder to steer a ship – a small thing but with huge impact. Your words could affect their lives [sounds dramatic but its true]
- Remember the power of sorry. The silliest statement to come out of Hollywood was, ‘Love means never having to say you’re sorry.’ On the contrary, love means always having to say you’re sorry.
- Recognise the ‘inner lawyer’ who always fights your corner. If you have set down family principles, or if there are group rules before the teenage years, these will be working for you during adolescence.
- Remember the power of forgiveness. We have all been forgiven at one time or other and know how good it feels to be restored.
Whatever your desires, unfortunately it is not good for you or the teenager to avoid conflict at all costs. You may want the quiet life but you could end up doing more harm than good. The consequences could be more negative and far reaching than dealing with the issue:
- It may stop the relationship from deepening and developing.
- It may stop them from facing problems and dealing with them in an effective way.
- It may allow them to manipulate us through our giving-in.
- It may damage your self-esteem as parents, or just as people.
Finally, experts used to talk in terms of “conflict resolution” – finding an end to conflict. They have changed their vocabulary to “conflict management” recognising that conflict isn’t about to go away so it is better to learn how to manage it and its effects.