Tag Archive for: dealing with conflict

Belligerent or Self Protection?

If you have tweens and teens, at one time or another you’ve probably seen that warlike seething that sometimes seems to explode even when asked to do what you think is a simple request.  Or maybe you see it in your spouse and don’t quite understand it.  How do you respond when you ask someone to do something because you need help or maybe just because it would be something good for them to learn to do, and you are met with a resounding “NO!”? Read more

4 Questions to Ask Yourself When Conflict is Inevitable

Conflict is inevitable in any relationship.  And when the conflict happens with those we love, the emotional impact can be devastating and tear us apart leaving us fragmented and wounded.  Many times this pain and anguish can last for decades.  Not only that, but it can impact how we behave in other relationships.

Sometimes it makes us dread the holidays.

We anticipate being in the room or around the dinner table with the person who hurt us and our anxiety begins to build.   For some, the feeling of apprehension can consume us knowing that our kids will be under foot for almost two whole weeks or our spouse will be home during the holidays adding to the stress of too many hours in the same space where emotions can destroy the festive season.

And sometimes during these times hope and fear can kick in–hope that the conflict can be resolved and fear that the other person will misunderstand our goodwill intent not hearing our true heart’s desire to resolve the issue in a win/win for both of us.

So what are some things we can do to make sure that conflict is resolved well during the holiday season?  First, understand that conflict takes two people.  And next, think about what you might do differently to change the season from one of apprehension into a time of rejoicing in being with those you love?

Consider how you and the other person fight:

  1. Do you or the other person attack rather than communicate in a loving manner?  The litmus test for answering this question is the use of the word “you” and accusations like “always” or “never”.   “If you hadn’t made me…” or “You always…” may be true; however, if these words are coming from your lips, the receiver will most likely feel attacked and become defensive.  Try communicating what you are feeling by using “I feel” language.  If you are on the receiving end of these words, try something like, “I understand that you feel like I’m at fault here.  However, it is hard to listen right now because I’m starting to feel defensive.  I want to hear you.  Would you mind telling me me how you are feeling by using “I” language rather than “you” language?”
  2. Do either you or the other person avoid resolving the issue?  I’ve had several of these people in my life over the years and I’ll admit it drives me crazy.  Resolving conflict means that you work through the issue.  Avoiders tend to say or think, “Ok, I’m the bad guy” or “There’s no changing you”.  Either way, they just want to move on and choose not to get to the root of the issue.  The problem is that if you never understand the issue and truly work through the conflict, a piece of the relationship is chipped away and it is hard to return to the level of intimacy that used to exist.  Sometimes having a neutral person in the room to help steer the conversation by listening, refocusing, and re-framing can have a positive impact.
  3. Can you rethink how you view the relationship?  When we’ve been hurt over and over by someone, it’s sometimes hard to stay in the relationship arena.  We want to protect ourselves from the pain again.  What if you began to look at the other person with compassion?  Do you think they are intentionally hurting you or is the pain inflicted out of immaturity in how they view relationships?  It’s usually easier to resolve an issue with our kids because we recognize that they are still learning and that it is our job to teach them how to respond in the middle of conflict.  If we are dealing with our spouse or another adult, it’s not so easy.  Try thinking of them with tenderness realizing their emotional capacity might be stunted.  Can we give them more grace?
  4. Can you recognize that for a relationship to change, one person needs to change?  Maybe you remember your sister as being your best-est buddy growing up and now you don’t even understand her.  One thing I’ve learned is that typically both people are trying to control.  When I feel like I’m being controlled, I ask myself if I’m trying to control the same thing.  If so, am I willing to lay down what I am trying to control in order to mend the relationship?  Are there topics in the relationship that need to be off limits?  Are there boundaries that need to be put in place that help each of you recognize acceptable behavior?

Sometimes we reach a place where we need to let go of the fear and hope for the best while recognizing that what we want might not be the relationship the other person desires or can give us.

Years ago I was in a relationship that seemed to put us in the crazy cycle on a regular basis.  I would unknowingly do something that would trigger the other person.  I would respond in what I thought was a loving, gentle way and would get to a place where I thought we had resolved the issue.  Then I would step on what seemed to be another landmine, and the cycle repeated again and again.  After a while fear kicked in for me.  I was afraid to be hurt yet again so I backed away.  I seemed to trigger this person for no apparent reason and their response would feel like an attack.  Every time we would be together I would hope for the best but the behaviors of the other person would randomly surface.

One day the light bulb came on.  I needed to try new skills to interrupt the crazy cycle.  I needed to hope that my new behaviors would change her as I interacted differently.  If we had a good day, I celebrated.  If we had a bad interaction, I’d try something different the next time.  Eventually, I stumbled on what worked.

Was the relationship what I so desired?  No, but I  learned to accept that God might not be giving me what I wanted but He was giving me what I needed to change me.

Hebrews 12:14-15

Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled;

Dare you to try some new behaviors during your disagreements this holiday season as you share in His bounty with thankful hearts.

“Let go…and Let God”,

If you know someone with kids 9-29, maybe a great gift idea for this holiday season might be a copy of With All Due Respect:  40 Days to a More Fulfilling Relationship with Your Teens & Tween.  A companion option might be our online eCourse that accompanies the book where they will have opportunity to learn from moms who have been there.  

And we continue to get positive feedback from teachers who have read it. Why not make your teacher gift giving easy this year?

Have a blessed day of gratitude!






Tired of the Conflict?

One of the things we sometimes forget as parents is that our brain is hardwired for conflict.  Spend some time with a 2-year old and you will see the way he is willing to stand up for his rights.  “No” seems to be his word of choice as he separates from mom and learns that he is an independent person.

It seems we spend the next several years trying to teach our children obedience and listening to mom and dad only to have that “no” rear it’s ugly head again, sometimes with vengeance, as our tweens and teens desire to break away.  As parents, we need to wrap our brain around the fact that their “no” is a good thing. 

Yes, you heard me right.  “No” can be a good thing.

Pause.  Take a deep breath.  And let that sink in.

We want to allow our kids to say “no” to us as they become older — as long as they can do so respectfully.  This is their way of self-protection.  It is how they figure out who they are and gain emotional awareness.  It is through conflict resolved well that our teens learn skills that will help them navigate adulthood with maturity and deeper connection with those around them.  They will learn that others are not necessarily all good (when I can get my way) or all bad (that person controls my every move).

Let me explain.

More than a decade ago my husband and I were struggling with one of our teens.  Conflict was a daily interaction–sometimes with several occurrences during the same day.  I felt totally inept and didn’t have the skills to navigate it.  I was at a loss.  I wanted to love this child but couldn’t seem to find the right balance of control versus letting her have her way.  It felt that whatever decision I made one of us was going to lose and most likely it would be her with the outcome of her choice.  Sometimes  I would set a boundary, she would cross it, and I would get tired of implementing it over and over again.  Talk about feeling overwhelmed.

Then my husband Dave and I took a dramatic step.  We decided to go to counseling together and were determined to find the counselor with the best reputation for handling conflict with teens in our city.   We needed someone to help us parent this particular child.  We were exhausted and at the end of our rope.

That’s where we started learning the skills to help us navigate conflict as a family.  Dave and I would give the counselor scenarios from the week’s drama in our home and he would patiently walk us through how we could have handled the situation differently.  It was eye opening and refreshing to have a different perspective.  These were skills I had never been taught.

That’s where Dave and I learned that we needed to pause when we were in stressful situations of conflict.  When our teen was having what seemed like a 2-year old meltdown, we learned to give her time to process the outcome of that “no”.  Then we would re-engage with non-emotional conversation.

As Dave and I were learning the skills with a professional, Nina Roesner and I would talk regularly about ways to apply these skills in both of our homes.  We both began researching the brain science behind conflict focusing on communication skills that would foster deeper connection in a way that would help us deal with our challenging person more effectively.  The more we would talk, the more skills we developed. 

We found that we had the perfect test lab for these skills in our own homes.  We both had teenagers!

What was amazing was what happened with my own family.  Trust was built in ways I had never experienced before.  My kids started coming to me with their questions more often.  My husband and I grew closer as we worked hard to strengthen our marriage to parent our children together.  We both came to realize the importance of being on the same page.

I’ll admit that our one teen continued to be difficult,  Even into her 20’s I continued to work on our relationship without much positive response.  I prayed without ceasing and used the skills Nina and I had refined.  But something was still missing. 

One day as Nina and I were talking it was as if a light bulb went on!  I decided to try this new idea with my daughter.

I implemented the technique the next time I was in communication with her.  Almost immediately, I started to see the defensiveness  dissipate.  She began sharing more and more of her struggles with me.  My heart soared last year when my husband told me what she had shared with him.  “Dad, I want you to know that mom has become my best friend.  I feel like I can tell her anything.”

Those words meant so much to me!

That’s what I want for you as a mom.  I want you to feel those words even if you never hear them as your teens move into adulthood. 

And it doesn’t come with closing our eyes to their defiance and letting them do things their way without boundaries.

It doesn’t come with control.

It comes with the skills that help us deflate defensiveness and garner respect so that we can influence their decisions.

Dare 28 in With All Due Respect is about resolving conflict in your home.  And it starts with us as moms in teaching them the skills they need.  Scripture talks about resolving conflict as well.

Matthew 5:9

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons (daughters) of God.”

Matthew 5:24

Leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.

Dare you to become the peacemaker in your home and learn to offer reconciliation in a way that your teens can hear.  Join us for our all new Deflating Defensiveness Training Retreat near Cincinnati, Ohio May 30-June 4, 2018.  It will give you the skills to navigate conflict in all your relationships as well as help you model them for your kids.  

“Let go…and Let God”,