Handling Conflict Better
This weekend the pastor of my church gave a sermon on “handling conflict”. He stated the importance during this season of the world for us to learn to handle conflict in a much better way. That got me thinking that no matter what the season, for many parents a new conflict waits around every corner. The issues that cause the conflict often feel huge at the moment even when they are of no real importance. We spend so much time, effort, and energy trying to figure out a resolution that we often lose sight of what is actually important. In most cases how we handle conflict with our children has a greater impact in the long run than fixing the issue or finding a compromise.
How do you handle conflict with your children, your spouse, and other people? Do you avoid conflict until it builds up and you explode? Do you confront every little thing in a big way even if it isn’t a big deal? Is your attitude more positive and hopeful or negative and demeaning? What is your tone, your volume, and your body language like? Do you put the relationship first or the conflict issue first?
If after answering these questions you have come to realize that you would like to make some changes you will have to make a couple of decisions first. The first decision you must make is that regardless of how your children, your spouse, or other people you have a conflict with are behaving you are going to take responsibility for your own behavior. The second decision you must make and remind yourself over and over about is to put the relationship first. Usually, our inability to react in a way that we are proud of comes from our frustration with how unrighteous something is or our fear that there will be consequences if we don’t fight to make things right. The fact is that many of your fears either can’t be avoided or won’t come to fruition anyway. The huge feelings you have when things seem so unfair and wrong will always fade with time whether you come to an agreement or not. Many spend too much time in negativity. This negativity is usually an attempt to change or control someone even though your tactics have never actually worked. Some things you are not going to be able to control and you have got to turn them over to God or let it go in the way that you let things go.
Do me a favor and follow these rules when it comes to conflict for a while. I am pretty sure that in the long run, your influence will increase, and the conflict will decrease in your household.
1. Model more humility than righteousness and listen more than you talk.
2. Remind yourself often to fight for the relationship first and your message second.
3. Make behaving right during conflict more important than being right.
4. Prove to your children or loved ones that you are a safe person in conflict even when they are unreasonable, unkind, or are behaving poorly.
5. As soon as you recognize that you have behaved poorly model taking accountability and make amends even if part of you feels justified.