How to Deal with Family Conflict

Communication is key to resolving any conflict, whether that be between spouses, parents and children, or even whole nations. You must keep the dialogue open. You may disapprove of your daughter’s new boyfriend or your husband’s new job, but do not throw your arms into the air and sulk. Keep talking. And talking does not mean whining or nagging! It is also crucial to choose your moment carefully. So wait until the other person is calm, peaceful, and receptive.

4) Listen. 

That does not mean be quiet and wait for the other person to finish speaking. No matter how infuriating your 13-year-old daughter may be as she screeches that she should be allowed to wear a mini skirt, you must listen. Always try to see things from the other person’s viewpoint. And do not allow your emotions to overpower your reason. Are you approachable? Are you so preoccupied with work that your husband and children do not feel they can reach you without yelling? Remember that listening does not mean obeying; it is a sign of strength, not weakness.

5) Re-state what you have heard.

Counselors often encourage what is known as “reflective listening”, which can be very effective so long as it is used subtly and sparingly. So, for example, imagine your son throws a tantrum because he wants to play soccer rather than visit your mother. Instead of yelling back, allow him to speak. Ask him why he doesn’t want to come and then repeat his reasons in your own words as if you are trying to understand. He will feel respected and validated and be more likely to listen to reason. But be careful. When overdone, this technique can seem patronizing and manipulative.

6) Let some things slide.