11 Ways To Overcome Conflict With A Parent & Communicate Better
Fighting with parents can be stressful, especially when we have so much to be appreciative for. The bond with parent and child is incredibly strong, and unfortunately, we often have the most tension with those whom we love and care for the most. By working on communicating well, we can minimize conflicts with parents and get past obstacles easier together.
As a certified health coach, I find that many of the challenges that my clients tackle result from the behaviors and dynamics found in their childhood, involving their relationships to their parents. As far as eating and self-esteem issues go, I often find that many people struggle due to family criticisms, both past and present. I also see how lots of conflict between parent and child, even once those children have grown to adults, can cause much stress and unhappiness, where the child feels unaccepted or never good enough for the parent's standards. Usually, there are many misconceptions, as parents often want the best for their children. Regardless, misunderstandings can lead to conflict, and such issues can be truly debilitating for both parent and child psyche and wellbeing. Here are eleven ways to overcome conflict with a parent in order to overcome easily and try and create a healthier relationship going forward.
1. Understand Their Story
Put yourself in your parent's shoes, and ask for him or her to fully express the reasoning behind the actions and behaviors. Even if you don't agree with the other point of view, it'll provide more insight into why your parent did what he or she did. "Fully understanding their story and where they came from" can help you both reach a resolution faster, says certified integrative nutrition health coach Cova Najera, over email correspondence with Bustle. Ask questions, and try to see from your parent's perspective.
2. Seek Another Adult's Advice
Often parents do not see our point of views or are resistant to taking responsibility, so it's sometimes better to avoid the hassle of an argument. "I like to have other 'parent figures' in my life," says artist and yoga instructor Tracee Badway, over an email interview with Bustle. "Rather than arguing with my flesh and blood I find someone with similar ideals I see as a 'parent' so everybody wins," Badway continues. Save the bigger things for your real parents, but bounce smaller things off of other people who are less sensitive to your words.
3. Figure Out What You Want From The Conflict
As you are fighting, figure out what it is that you want from your parent and from the situation. Is it an apology? Is it a resolution? Is it to prove you were right? Is it to just end the conflict and be forgiven? Whatever it is, "set realistic rules and goals for yourself," advises Badway. You can't always get the perfect apology, so be realistic in your desires and take what you can get. Think of long-term goals (keeping a relationship strong and reducing tension in the future) rather than short-term (getting the perfect apology and acknowledgement).
4. Avoid Yelling
Experts show that yelling can make an argument worse by inducing fear and helplessness in the other person. When speaking to someone and discussing a conflict, be sure to keep your voice calm and leveled, as this will allow for greater communication and transmission of messages. Yelling will only cause your parent to shut down and take defense, refusing to see your side.
5. Pick The Right Time
Picking the right time to discuss an issue is key towards finding resolution quicker and easier. If you or your parent is dealing with a deadline at work, hadn't slept well the night before, or just got in another fight with someone else, you're more likely to cause added stress that will be seen as an attack upon a day of attacks. Ask for your parent if now is a good time to talk, as you have something that has been upsetting you that you would like to get off your chest. If he or she says no, make plans for an alternative time.
6. Brew Tea
Studies show that hot tea can calm our nerves and promote clarity. Great picks include green tea, which promotes cognition, and chamomile, which is a natural anxiety-suppressor. Brew two cups of tea and sit down with your parent to discuss the issue at hand. Whenever you feel nervous, take a sip, and collect your thoughts.
7. Take A Deep Breath Before Speaking
It's common to blurt out whatever we are thinking when under stress, and unfortunately, when we're in a heated argument, it's easy to say things that we will later regret. Before saying what it is on your mind, take a deep breath (or two) and choose your words carefully, as best to articulate what you are upset without it coming across as an attack.
8. Say How Much You Love Them
Tell your parent how much you love and appreciate him or her before discussing what you are upset about. By letting him or her know that you want to overcome the conflict because you care so deeply about the relationship, you are more likely to receive open-mindedness and willingness to see the other's point of view. People respond better when they feel that criticism is coming from a good place.
9. Acknowledge Their Feelings
Say, "I can see why you are upset, and I am sorry." By showing that you acknowledge their feelings as valid, they will be more likely to move on and even reciprocate the sentiment. Even if you don't agree with their feelings, pretend like you do to make them feel understood and accepted. Focus on healing their issue before your own. Once they feel better, then describe the ways in which you were hurt.
10. Don't Sleep On It
According to research, sleeping when angry can actually preserve negative feelings and enhance tension. If you allow yourself to dwell in unpleasant thoughts, you'll only feel worse about the argument at hand and build up more resentment that will make resolution tough to achieve. If you are upset, speak calmly at a slow moment in the day or later in the evening, when there's ample opportunity to have a few minutes to chat.
11. Pick And Choose Your Conflicts
Decide whether what's bothering you is worth addressing. Heated arguments are common between family members, so think wisely before opening your mouth. Is this a problem that is recurring? If so, then it might be worth bringing up so that it can be mended for the future. Is it a large problem that influences other family members or your personal wellbeing? It would be smart to bring it up in a reasonable manner. However, is it a snappy comment or too much texting during dinner? It might be worth it to let it slide.
Fighting with a parent is never easy, and it often feels as though an argument can go on forever. It's hard to change parents, so work on changing your own behavior to be more thoughtful, patient and empathic during conflicts and hope that you are given reciprocated care. However, if your parent is unresponsive to your side, know that you tried and can still find a resolution, without your ideal scenario. Think of the larger picture: overcoming conflict will make for a happier, loving relationship.
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