Hey, I’m Louise. I want to ask you a few things. Be honest. Going though a rough patch with your family? You think you’d be better off without them? Do you constantly talk bad about them to your friends? Have you ever said to them, “I hate you” or “I wish you were dead.” Did you really mean it? If you’re honest, you’ve probably said both of those things to them and meant it at the time, right?
I’ve been there, done that. I used to say that to my Dad everyday. One night we had the biggest fight, I never screamed at someone so much in my entire life. I told him, “I hate you! I wish you would die! I’d be better off without you!” Over and over again. The next day i went away to a camp and I never said goodbye to him. I should have gone, said goodbye and hugged him. But no I had too much pride.
The night after I left camp, I got a call from mom. “Louise, Dad passed away, I’m so sorry.”
Every single day I remember and have to live with knowing that the last thing I said to him was “I hate you! I wish you were dead!” I regret that every single day of my life. Please do not make the same mistake I did before it’s too late. Your parents love you even if it doesn’t feel like it sometimes. And no matter what you do. Please do not take them for granted. Tell them you love them before it’s too late.
How to Stop Fighting With Parents:
RULE 1: NO PERSONAL ATTACK
When we disagree, avoid name-calling or blaming. Name-calling and blaming are destructive. Avoid ‘harsh start-ups’ or starting conversation by shouting and attacking the other person.
RULE 2: TAKE RESPONSIBILITY
Taking personal responsibility for what we say and how we say it is an important part of conflict responsibility. We need to take responsibility for our mistakes and learn from them. Being open to feedback shows your willingness to listen. Being defensive will only make us spiral downwards when in conflict because we blame each other. Make the first move to apologize. You will be surprised how far it will go in minimizing the tension. Remember, nobody makes you angry. I make myself angry.
RULE 3: LISTEN ACTIVELY
Listening is an art and most difficult to do in our fast-paced society. Active listening is a deliberate effort to understand the other person’s perspective. I
RULE 4: FOCUS ON ISSUES
The most difficult aspect in conflict management is managing negative emotions. They run wild and we lose control of our emotions during a conflict. We feel anger and frustration when our goals are blocked and expectations are not met. Often parents and teens don’t mean what they say and they don’t say what they mean. When someone throws wet mud, don’t rub it in. It only smudges. Wait for it to dry, and then flick it away. Don’t let it stick on you. Stay focused on the issue.
RULE 5: CHOOSE YOUR FIGHT
Some parents love to fight and win all the time. They fight over what their kids should eat, what they should do during their holidays, how long they could play on their computer. They micro-manage and nit-pick. They fight over trivial matters. Decide if the issue at hand is worth fighting over. Some issues are really not worth the effort. Sometimes, ‘Avoidance’ and ‘Giving in’ may be wiser. If we fight all the time, we will lose credibility when there is something really worth fighting over. Also, when emotions run wild, take a break. Taking time out and coming back at a later time is a wise thing to do.
RULE 6: TIME YOUR FIGHT
Timing is everything. Imagine coming into the home, asking your mother for extra money when she just had a quarrel with your dad about some financial issues. What will happen? You can be sure, you will not get it. You might even have your allowance reduced! When the timing is wrong, the resulting consequences are angry reactions. And then we spiral downwards. Be sensitive to the surrounding and the other person’s moods. When the heat is up, don’t make it worse by ‘making snide sarcastic remarks’ and/or ‘pushing hot buttons’. Also, when emotions run wild, take a break. Taking time out and coming back at a later time is a wise thing to do. Come back again when things are less heated up.
RULE 7: REALIGN TO SUPRA-ORDINATE GOALS
Sometimes, parents and teens need to call attention to the greater goal, the bigger picture, and the long-term objective of parenting. It is very easy to just focus on our self-interests. Parents need to raise the sight of our kids. There are times I have to ask myself and my kids, “Wait a minute. What are we fighting about? Why are we fighting ? What does it mean to be part of this family?” Lifting one another to higher goals is important. An effective way to manage conflicts in the family is for parents and teens to help each other see the supra-ordinate goals. Expect conflict but transform conflict into opportunities for growth and learning. You can recover from conflict and be the stronger for it! It’s not that bad after all!