Dealing With Conflict: Eight Facets Of A Healthy Family Culture

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:

This one:

And these two really hot button posts on authority and claiming authority in your home:  and this one:

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:

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!


8 thoughts on “Dealing With Conflict: Eight Facets Of A Healthy Family Culture

  1. This post brought up many questions for me.
    -What if you don’t have *any* support?
    -What if you live far away from family/relatives and you are shy and not very good at making friends?
    – How do you go about finding/developing support?

    The church I belong to is not fellowship based, it is centered around the sacraments and worship; it is impossible to make friends there. My neighborhood becomes a ghost-town during the day: parents are all working, children are all in school. I had a full physical in October, and I am healthy. I get as much sleep as is possible for a mother of five.

    • Hi Susan!
      I am so very glad you are here! Yes, social isolation can be quite real! I have written some about it in the past and wondered if this post would resonate with you at all:
      and this one (and its many comments are interesting!) :

      You have a lovely blog and I would love to see you blog about this topic. The need for support is so real I think. If there is something you are interested in, I find that the easiest place sometimes to begin. What are you interested in outside of your children, and is there a club or group of people getting together for that interest? Could you find a friend there?

      Having no support is so, so hard, which I think is why we tend to look on-line and sometimes you can actually meet friends who become friends in real life from being on line. It happened to me in starting our homeschooling group…

      I am happy you are here!
      Many blessings to you!

  2. Such a wonderful, wonderful post — and an important topic.
    I have found that ESPECIALLY when you are coping with difficult or stressful events (including chronically stressful ones), it is all the more important to provide boundaries for your children. They crave the security of boundaries all the more when other things in their lives seem out of control. Yes, they will often test these boundaries and they may even put up resistance or shed a few tears, but at the end of the day, they are looking for you to enforce those boundaries, consistently and firmly — they want this and it is comforting to them. Understanding this helped me change my perspective on boundaries altogether — and to realize that when I was enforcing boundaries, it wasn’t me vs. them — instead, I was enforcing boundaries out of love for them — this made it much easier to do it with loving, gentle words (that were nonetheless firm).
    Even so, it requires a lot of practice. (And a lot of patience with yourself. I found that lots of things that usually came more or less easily to me require a lot of practice when dealing with stressful events — I have to tell myself time and time again to practice having a sense of humor about little things. Also taking care of yourself — sleeping, eating well — requires practice.)

    • Dana,
      These are such astute and perceptive thoughts on this subject. Thank you so much for sharing them in this space.

      Many blessings to you,

  3. Your posts are such a welcome part of my life. I sometimes feel that I am struggling alone in this household (albeit just three of us – myself, my partner, who had a very different kind of upbringing from the one I want for our own 4-year old daughter, and has very different ideas about life). But I always find some strength and encouragement in your words. I follow a few blogs – all lovely, inspirational people from around the globe with whom I’d dearly love to gather around my table and share a pot of tea – but yours is one that I reflect on the most. I almost want to print off all the pages and carry around with me; a little security blanket. Thank you, thank you. Many blessings to you.

  4. (Please use this post as my previous seems to have some errors. Apologies!) Dear Carrie, I started reading your blog a few days ago and now am completely hooked. Thank you for offering such great insight into how to parent, and why we parent the way we do. It took me a few years to figure out some of the methods you describe and I wish I had come across these ideas earlier with my first. However, experience does have a way of teaching us so that we never forget and question ourselves twice before we head into a similar, non-productive situation again! To help my myself and my fellow readers along (on my blog on natural health and parenting), I have linked to your posts on Twenty Days Toward Being a More Mindful Mother. I hope that is okay? My parenting bent is primarily based on Waldorf philosophy as this is how my mother raised us and I have tried to weave this into our daily life as well. While my eldest daughter did attend a private Waldorf school for nursery (which was a lovely experience), we now have her at our local public school which has had its fair share of ups and downs. I feel empowered to help my children become the the wonderful people they are meant to be by using many of the principles you have described. My natural health background is based primarily on Traditional Chinese Medicine in relation to fertility, pregnancy, pediatrics as well as general dietary health.

    You have such wisdom and clarity in your writing. All the best and I look forward to reading more in the future.

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