Tag Archive for: how do I resolve conflict?

6 Steps to Help Validate Your Kids

The word validation has been cropping up everywhere I turn for the past two weeks.  It’s something that I’ve struggled with for years.  I always thought empathy and validation were essentially the same thing.  I tended to be pretty good on the empathy front so I assumed that my empathy was in fact validating my kids.  After all, I was listening, naming their feelings, trying to connect on an emotional level.  I was telling them I understood why they felt the way they did, and then I would share how I saw the situation.

Wrong.  (That is the sharing how I saw the situation part).

It took a good friend to call me out on it one day.  Actually we were in the middle of a disagreement.  It wasn’t heated and I was doing my best at showing her empathy at the time.  Then I used the word.  You probably use it often too.  It is that little word where we invalidate everything we just said.

I used the word “But”.

Validation is more than empathy.  Validation says that you have a right to think the way you do AND feel the way you feel.  It also says that I’m willing to acknowledge it.  I am willing to be present in your moment.

On a surface level, validation is acknowledgement.  When we are standing in the kitchen prepping a meal and our teen comes in from school, turning to acknowledge they are home, looking them in the eye, or asking a question is a form of validation.  It says that I think you are more important that whatever I am doing in the moment.  I choose to be present and engage says a lot to validate the importance of that person in your life.  Multi-tasking while our teen is sharing their story is not validation.  

Oh, my.  How many times a day do I actually stop what I am doing to validate the importance of my teen in my life?

Another level of validation is to summarize and reflect on what the other person has said and maybe include how you think the person is feeling.  Just by summarizing in a non-judgmental way, it tells your teen that you hear her AND you acknowledge her world.  If your teen comes in crying and tells you something her best friend did to her, “Meggie told everyone at school that I liked Tim.  I hate her!”, validating her might be something like “Oh, I’m so sorry she told everyone that.  You must feel so hurt that she would betray your confidence.”  Another step would be to hug and console her by letting her cry on your shoulder.

How many times do we invalidate our teen by saying things we think will fix the problem?  “Oh, honey, you don’t hate Meggie.  She’s your best friend.”  or “Meggie certainly didn’t mean to tell everyone.  You’re just hurt.  This will blow over.”  We may say the words in a soothing manner; however, have we thought about what we are really saying to our child?  Words such as these defend the other person and can make our teen feel like their thoughts and feelings aren’t justified.

To take it up a notch, we can even validate someone when we are in the middle of a disagreement. 

  • Listen carefully to their words and summarize them to make sure you heard correctly in a non-threatening, non-judgmental way.
  • Read their body language and use words to describe what they might be feeling.  Get consensus that the words you choose are accurate to them.
  • Understand their tone of voice and acknowledge the emotion the other person is conveying.
  • Agree with the other person as much as possible.  In other words, agree that they have a right to feel the way they feel and they have a right to think differently than you.
  • Apologize for your part in making the other person feel the way they feel even if you feel that you did nothing to make them feel that way. Sometimes we do and say things that are taken the wrong way, but we can still apologize for the way it came across.
  • Try to resolve the disagreement only after the other person feels totally heard and understood.  Make sure they know that you are on their team.

A mom called me last week to share a conversation she had had with her adult son.   He called her to say he wanted to come over because he had some things he wanted to get off his chest.  It seems he had been bottling up frustration for several years about some of the decisions his mom had made when he lived at home and the way he was parented.  This son came in with accusation after accusation.  When I asked my friend how she responded to him, she told me, “I just listened and then told him why I did the things I did.”

As she shared, I imagined a ping-pong game.  You did this, justification.  You did that, justification.  When this happened, justification.  You didn’t, justification.  Back and forth without any acknowledgement of his feelings.  No summarizing to get clarification of his thoughts or to make sure he felt heard.

“How did the conversation end?” I asked.

“After about an hour and a half, I told him I was sorry and he left,” she responded.  “He seemed talked out.”

“I asked if she thought her son felt closure and connection.”  

“I don’t know,” she replied.

The son most likely wanted reconciliation and an adult perspective of what happened while he was growing up.  Let’s face it.  As parents we will make mistakes and we want our kids to bring those things they are having difficulty understanding to our attention.  Thankfully, this mom was open to the conversation; she listened and she did apologize.

That’s a great first step.

But validation can be so much more if we choose to not justify our actions.  Justification says I’m right and you are wrong.  It can become threatening and feel judgmental to the other person.

Many of us do this without even realizing it!  It is second nature to justify our actions and responses especially if we grew up in a home that didn’t use validation as a means of encouragement and connection. 

This friend and I are still talking about her conversation with her son.  She didn’t even recognize that there was more she could have done.  I’m encouraging her to try practicing the skill of validation and reopen the conversation with her son in the future.  If she does, then full restorative healing can take place.

Acknowledgement of our child’s thoughts, frustrations, and emotions through validation can strengthen our relationship beyond our wildest dreams.  It communicates acceptance.  It communicates that their thoughts and emotions have value.  And even when we don’t necessarily agree with them, it shows that there are different ways to view any situation and their way is okay.  Validation leads to an opportunity to later explain your view of the situation without condemnation.  They’ll be more open to listening to you because they feel valued by you.

Romans 8:1

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,

Dare you to learn the skills of validation to enhance the relationship with your teens.  Start becoming more aware of your conversations with your teens by getting rid of the “but” and justifying your actions.  If you do, it will strengthen your relationship.

“Let go…and let God”,

We’re in the process of revamping our With All Due Respect eCourse.  For a limited time moms can sign up for our current course on Facebook.  And it’s free. Get your copy of the book to go through the dares with us here.

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”,

 

 

Tired of the Conflict with Your Tweens, Teens, & 20-Somethings?

Sitting in his second floor home office, my husband, Dave, heard the scurry of feet with the rolling of what could only be walnuts across the attic floor.  Not wanting to hurt what had to be a pesky squirrel storing his winter stash, my husband did a humane thing.  He bought a trap that would catch the creature live so that he could remove him from the attic.

Three days that cage sat on the attic floor.  The only thing that happened was that the squirrel moved to the other corner of the house above my son’s back bedroom.  Drats!  

The next day, my husband moved the cage out onto the roof beside his office window and watched as the squirrel took his bushy tail, slung it over his head, and backed into the small space where flashing was missing from the attic siding.  It was as if the squirrel was saying, “I’m too smart for you.  You can’t catch me.”

This game went on for almost a week.  The squirrel would even look over the side of the roof into the office window to let Dave know that a squirrel could outsmart a human.  We laughed all week at the shenanigans this squirrel would pull.  At one point we found him with three of his friends perched outside the cage–my husband’s fresh walnut bait missing.

Finally the day arrived.  With one squirrel caged, my husband threw the trap into the car and carted him off to the local park for release.  Off the squirrel ran.

That afternoon Dave trapped two more.  Each release was similar.  He’d open the cage and off the squirrel would run to go find his friends. My husband’s sense of success was showing and I knew he had visions of finally being able to repair the roof flashing.  He had finally outsmarted these rascals.

The next morning, squirrel number four had met his fate.  Caged and carted to the park, my husband released the squirrel just like the rest.  But this squirrel was different.  He didn’t run off thrilled at the sight of freedom.  This squirrel slowly sauntered out of the cage, turned and stood on his hind legs as he barked at my husband for several minutes. 

Dave froze.  

“Oh, my,” was going through my husband’s mind.  “What do I do if he attacks?  I should have planned better for an exit strategy!”

Sometimes our conflict with teens can be similar to the one Dave had with the squirrels.  Our kids have an idea that doesn’t match up with ours.  We try to do the humane thing and reason with them, but just like squirrels, our teens don’t think like we do.

Then comes what I call the ‘ganging up’.  If you’ve got tweens and teens you know what I’m talking about.  The “but EVERYONE is going” card that is played can make us feel as if we are the only parent on the planet that is thinking that the answer should be “no”. 

Do you know how to handle those situations in a way that will deflate the anger and frustration with your kid?

And then there is that ‘screaming squirrel’ or difficult kid that will bark at us when he’s angry and not getting his way.  These are the kids that force us into the freeze position.  It’s where we don’t want to make a move for fear of what will happen if we make the wrong decision. 

If you are like me, sometimes you’ve found yourself in any of these positions.  We want a relationship.  We think we are being reasonable.  Yet, our kids don’t see things the same way.  As conflict brews we need to have a strategy–a plan to move through the defensive behavior while still maintaining the relationship.  We also need to be able to maintain a sense of humor in the situation.  After all, yes, our kids might pull some shenanigans, but we are still the parents.

Dare 22 in With All Due Respect has a strategy for dealing with sibling conflict.  How did they learn it?  It’s obvious that Mom had put a plan in place before the conflict occurred.  She modeled what healthy conflict looked like and was there to coach through the situation.

Do you know how to navigate conflict well?  Do your relationships deepen as you work to resolve your differences?  

If you are like most of us, it’s a struggle.  Just like parenting, conflict resolution is not one of the things that we’re taught in school.  If your parents didn’t resolve conflict well, then most likely you’ve not been given the skills to help your kids.

God has given each of us a mission field when it comes to our kids.  And if you are like me, you want most to hear Him say “Well done my good and faithful servant”.  I would encourage you to pray about sharpening your conflict resolution skills–for you and for the legacy you will leave for your kids.

I have two opportunities for you. 

Our With All Due Respect on-line eCourse runs January 8 through March 28, 2018.  There you can join other moms from the convenience of your home computer as we go through the book.  You can set your own schedule as to when you access the videos and other training materials.  I’ll be there along with our mentor, Sandi Winnen.  We promise you encouragement as you put your parenting strategy in place for dealing with your tweens, teens, and 20-somethings.  Iron sharpens iron and as parents we need other like-minded people walking beside us. If your kids are between the ages of 9-29, this group is for you.

Proverbs 15:22

Plans fail for lack of counsel,
but with many advisers they succeed.

If you want to forge the relationship with your kids and get more in-depth learning in how to better deal with conflict and handle difficult relationships more effectively, we have a Deflating Defensiveness Training Retreat coming up May 30-June 3, 2018 near Cincinnati, Ohio.  This is an opportunity for you to learn, practice, and put a plan in place for strengthening the relationships with the “challenging people” in your life.  I found out Friday that the early-bird pricing has been extended until January 31, so grab your spot early since our private rooms are limited. 

Proverbs 16:3 

Commit to the Lord whatever you do,
and he will establish your plans.

I hope that whether you choose to join us or not that you will think about the conflict in your home.  Put together a plan that will help you resolve it well.

“Let go…and Let God”,