Do you sometimes experience family conflict, especially with your parents?
It’s relatively safe to say that no one wants to quarrel with their Mom, Dad, or both. It can cause distress on both ends, and it can even damage the relationship you have with them if you handle the argument poorly. Often, these types of disagreements are at the heart of all familial relationship problems.
Reducing the frequency of conflict is all about dealing with current conflict healthily, which will teach all parties involved how to handle future issues. But how can you do this, especially since parents are authority figures?
HERE ARE 11 WAYS TO STOP CONFLICT WITH YOUR PARENTS
1. DON’T SHOUT
A heated argument can lead to raised voices, which can then lead to full-blown shouting. It’s easy to get carried away in severe conflicts and start yelling, but all that’s going to do is damage the relationship you have with your parents.
Screaming like this can also lead to defensiveness on both sides. Your parents will likely attempt to shut down the argument and become unreceptive to your points if you’re yelling, or they may shout back, which is only going to block any chance at positive communication.
There’s also an issue of rank here. Parents are unlikely to tolerate shouting from their children as they view it as a form of disrespect, so you’ll wind up setting yourself back.
Take a few deep breaths and control your voice. Pick your words wisely and don’t articulate them until you’re sure that you have control of your emotions. If you need to, take a 5-minute break in a separate room to breathe.
2. SET UP BOUNDARIES
It’s not unusual for parents to have difficulty letting go of control of their kids. That’s why children often need to learn to set up boundaries for their parents to abide by. It’s healthy and positive in all relationships, from romantic to platonic to familial.
It can be hard for parents to understand the necessity of respecting their children’s boundaries. Still, once you establish them, you’ll be able to draw a line in the sand about certain things and focus on compromising on others.
Examples of healthy boundaries for things that are not up for discussion are:
Final decisions about careers
Romantic and sexual relationships
How you parent your children
3. THINK OF YOUR PARENTS’ SIDE OF THE STORY
It’s easy to forget that your parents are people, too. That’s why it’s essential to try and see things from their point of view now and then. Here’s how to do that.
· UNDERSTAND THEIR STRUGGLES
Getting older isn’t exactly the easiest thing in the world. Watching someone you raised and loved drift away – even if that’s not what’s happening – can be painful, too. Keep in mind that your parents are fighting their own battles, and that influences their actions.
· OVERCOME CAREGIVER GUILT
A lot of conflicts come from caregiver guilt. You may feel like you’re not doing enough by your parents, causing you to hold grudges accidentally due to that guilty feeling. But from your parents’ perspective, you’re doing everything they could have hoped for, and they likely don’t expect you to make the world perfect for them.
· ASK FOR FULL EXPLANATIONS
Generational gaps can make it hard to understand where your parents are coming from. The next time you clash, ask them for their full reasoning behind their positions. It may help you to see them in a new light, and it may help you to see that their intentions are good at heart.
· ACKNOWLEDGE THEIR PAIN
Before getting into detail about your side of the story, tell your parents that you can understand why they feel the way they do, and apologize for it. This step will help them to feel validated, and they will likely acknowledge your feelings as well.
4. DETERMINE YOUR GOALS
If you go in fighting without knowing what your goals in the conflict are, you’ll end up in a never-ending cycle of anger and arguments. You need to know what you want from your parents, what you want for yourself, and what you hope the situation resolves. Here are some ideas of goals:
To attain an apology
To seek resolution
To prove your innocence
To achieve compromise
To show that you’re in the right
To receive forgiveness
To help them understand
Whatever your goals, make sure that they are realistic. You should also know that you won’t always get what you want. In that case, focus on longer-term goals, such as:
Preventing future misunderstandings
Strengthening your relationship
Reducing the risk of tension in the future
Maintaining healthy boundaries
5. DON’T AVOID POTENTIAL CONFLICT
Healthy relationships involve confronting problems then and there and solving them. Avoidance leads to lessened positive thinking, festering grudges that will burst forth and cause huge blowups later on. Here are some tips for not avoiding potential conflict:
If you know, it’s an issue that will crop up in the future, start trying to figure it out early and bring it up in advance to hash it out now
Prioritize sit-down, serious discussions about issues instead of half-hearted attempts at no-strings-attached resolutions
Don’t avoid problems, or beat around the bush: be direct and honest, and never pretend things are okay when they’re not
6. DON’T ASSUME
Assumptions don’t help anyone. You should never make assumptions regarding your parents’ needs, thoughts, and desires. This practice is unfair to them and can also lead to misunderstandings later on.
When in doubt, always ask. Your parents are complex individuals who have their own set of beliefs and thoughts that can change over time. They may have different values than they did while raising you! Unless they are not cognitively capable of making decisions or providing input, always ask your parents for answers.
7. BE FORGIVING
Forgiveness is crucial in maintaining healthy relationships and preventing future parental conflict. It can be difficult to forgive your parents, especially since you may still be stuck in the idea that they should know better. But they’re human. They make mistakes. And they’ve forgiven yours most of the time!
Forgiveness is a choice, of course, and we aren’t suggesting that you must forgive abusive, manipulative, or cruel behavior, mainly if no apology has ever been provided. But for the most part, if you want a healthy relationship with your parents, both of you need to learn to forgive and, if not forget, at least move on.
8. GET SOME OUTSIDE HELP
Have a lot of trouble resolving conflict with your parents? There’s no shame in getting outside help. Here are some ways to do that:
· FIND OTHER PARENTAL FIGURES
It’s not unusual for a person to have parental figures in their life who they aren’t related to by blood, such as mentors, or just older friends. Don’t be afraid to talk to them about the issues you’re facing. They can offer a different perspective that could help you understand your parents more.
· ASK FOR OTHER OPINIONS
Talk to friends, other family members, or people you can trust about the conflict you’re facing and ask for their opinions. Sometimes, you can be too close to a situation to see alternative interpretations that others can see.
· GET PROFESSIONAL HELP
If things are terrible, go to a family counselor. Your parents may be reluctant at first, but there are some issues and emotions that run too deep for you to work through on your own. A professional can help you.
9. EMPLOY POSITIVE REINFORCEMENT
You can get lost in all the negativity sometimes, and you need a little positive reinforcement to help things move along. This reassurance can help your parents associate positivity with specific actions, allowing them to understand what helps you and know when they’re on the right path. Examples are:
Praising a parent or thanking them for making an effort or doing something you’ve asked for
Telling your parent about your appreciation and love for them
Explaining that you want to work through conflict because of how much you value your relationship
Beginning discussions with a positive and calm statement instead of an accusation
10. LET THEM WIN SOMETIMES
You can’t win all the time. Sometimes, your parent is just in the right, or sometimes, a situation doesn’t seem resolvable. In these times, you can decide to allow your parents to win. Sure, no argument should be about winning or losing, but there are times when they have to be, and that’s okay.
Not only is this healthy, but it can also help parents who feel like they’re losing control or think they’ve outlived their usefulness. Let them help you choose activities, meals, vacations, and other things to make them feel better.
On top of that, there is plenty of wisdom in learning to pick your battles. Some arguments can’t be won or resolved, and that’s just a part of life. Accepting that and moving on is key to more positive thinking and a better relationship later on.
11. GET THE TIMING RIGHT
If you start trying to fix a problem at the wrong time, things are going to fall apart pretty quickly for everyone involved. Here are some examples of bad times to bring up the conflict:
When either of you is stressed out
When either of you just received worrying news
When either of you is already slightly annoyed or upset with each other
When either of you is lacking sleep
When either if you are in a rush
In these times, it’s ideal to reschedule the discussion. Arrange a time where you can sit down and talk about it. As a rule, you should ask your parents if it’s a good time to bring something up instead of just jumping right into it.
conflict with parentsFINAL THOUGHTS ON AVOIDING CONFLICT WITH YOUR PARENTS
There’s no real way to stop conflict truly. It’s merely a part of life, and it happens naturally when you have relationships with anyone. Your parents are individuals with their own set of values and desires, and those values and aspirations are going to clash with yours sometimes. There’s no avoiding it!
So don’t avoid them! Learn to manage conflict healthily and resolve problems maturely and responsibly, which results in greater understanding from both parties. It won’t outright prevent conflict forever, but it will certainly reduce it!