How we deal with conflict in a family is so important as it really sets the tone for the energy and mood of the house. Is the tone of the home that things are important, but the moments are there for teaching and connection? Or is the tone of the home that things are important, but in a stressful way, and the energy and tone of the home is punishing and threatening?
I think how we deal with conflict comes down to two main things: how we set boundaries and how we communicate.
I am sure secondary influences have to do with our own temperaments and our own patterns, and also what is impacting us in terms of stressful events in our lives outside of the conflict event. So, tell me, what is going on with you? Have you had a physical examination by a physician or other health care provider recently, how are your hormone levels, are you getting enough sleep? Who supports you in real life? Do you have any support? What patterns are you setting?
Those are important things, but we must also address boundaries and communication. I want to make it clear that you can still choose to be calm and steady, even under stressful circumstances, should you choose and should you practice the tools to do this!
I am suggesting in parenting you pay special attention to boundaries because many mothers ask a child ten times to do or not do something and then they BLOW UP because the child still has not done what they asked. But many times the blow -up occurs because the mother was wishy- washy about the boundary, did not set the boundary but secretly wished it was set, or finally did set the boundary but didn’t follow through on the action part helping the child meet the boundary. (The other piece that is connected to this is developmental capability, and many parents are expecting too much or not enough, but that is a topic for our next post!)
What many mothers that I speak with tell me is that they have a very hard time setting boundaries with ANYONE. They say yes to everything, even when they want to say no. They don’t guard their time and then they feel overwhelmed. They cannot come up with the words to say, “I want to listen to you but I cannot hear you when you speak to me that way” or “No, I cannot do that right now. My schedule is full.” or “Everyone in the family will help because we all live here.” Those are all boundaries. A mother will have difficulties setting the tone for their home and for their children if they can only say, “Well, okay…..” to whatever someone within or outside the home suggests or wants or says. I am not suggesting a dictatorship run by mother by any means, but I am suggesting looking at your family’s values and aligning your words, your time and your energy with that. We can think what we want to think but without action, it all becomes rather meaningless and empty. The thoughts count, but the words and the actions are what drives the family and creates the tone.
If you are searching for back posts about boundaries, here is a small sampling of posts:
and this one:
And these two really hot button posts on authority and claiming authority in your home: http://theparentingpassageway.com/2010/12/02/re-claiming-authority-part-one/ and this one: http://theparentingpassageway.com/2010/12/05/re-claiming-authority-part-two/
Words are one form of communication in how we set boundaries. We also have wordless ways to communicate our boundaries, even if our words are saying something different than our gesture. Small children need more physical follow-through and less direct commands. Physically helping a small child put their arm into their coat whilst singing the song you always sing when it is time to go outside, for example, is a way of communicating a boundary and secure sense of how things are done in your family.
Words need to be kind, and not sarcastic. Here is a classic post about the language we use and how it affects children: http://theparentingpassageway.com/2010/05/23/changing-our-parenting-language/
Think strongly about what boundaries your children need in order to grow up to be healthy adults. Think about what boundaries you need so you are a healthy adult for them to model. Follow through, keep calm and carry on!