a "been-there" mom of six offers encouragement
to wives, young mothers, and those not so young,
and simple common-sense approaches to
the "ings" of life:
child-rearing (hints and helps), homemaking (all areas),
cooking (simple, cheap, and do-it-yourself)
making (toys and gifts), preparing (for the unexpected),
maintaining (sanity and peace in this increasingly crazy world) and more---
all aspects of making the most of making do on little---
and having fun in the process.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Combating the War Against the Family . . . Part 7

Note: This post is the last one of seven on the war that is being waged  against families and family values---and what we can do to strengthen and protect ours. I teach a Sunday School class on strengthening the family and parenting skills. The lesson manual Strengthening the Family by LDS Family Services is terrific, the points "right on" and the suggestions doable. 

This is the final post in my Combating the War Against the Family series. Those who were attending my Sunday school classes filled out an anonymous evaluation form and turned it in at the last session. They all wrote they felt the materials presented were very valuable. I hope they have been helpful to you as well.

How to Disagree Without Conflict will help parents understand that while differences of opinion are inevitable, families who resolve conflicts grow closer and become stronger --- along with ways to accomplish this in your own home.

The Basic Facts: 

Some parents are overly permissive --- giving in to their children's whims until their children's behavior is out of control.

Some parents are too restrictive --- provoking their children to rebel.

Some parents overreact to their children's normal drive for independence. 

and . . .

Sad but true ---  some children will still go astray and willfully engage in behavior that violates family rules and standards, in spite of what you do but ... isn't it best to try to change your methods in hopes it will change their behavior.

Family members grow closer and become stronger when they resolve differences successfully. Left unresolved, conflicts destroy family relationships and cause sorrow among family members.

We should strive to approach our loved ones in the manner Jesus Christ taught.
"A soft answer turneth away wrath: 
but grievous words stir up anger" 
Proverbs 15:1
BEGIN BY . . .

Applying the Savior's teachings to your role as parents--both fathers and mothers.  Parents should show love and a willingness to resolve conflict by
  • using good listening skills and seek to understand their upset, angry children.
  • making concessions in a spirit of compromise --- while upholding values and standards
  • striving to persuade their children --- while refusing to give in to manipulation
  • teaching their children correct principles  --- and the rationale for family rules (rather than just saying "because I said so")
  • encouraging their children to make correct choices
  • persuading them when they are argumentative 
  • imposing consequences when they choose to disobey
  • pleading tenderly with them when they are on the verge of making serious mistakes. 
WHY? . . .

A child's angry feelings often dissipate when he or she feels understood and respected by the parent. Also, parents who listen may find that their own feelings and perspectives change.

This Next Suggestion is AMAZING in it's simplicity!

This principle for resolving conflict is so simple that it is often overlooked.  Simply. . . 

                            REFUSE TO ARGUE

Parents who refuse to argue with a contentious child soon discover that the contention is short-lived. 

Quarreling and fighting cannot occur when one person refuses to engage in it. 

Glenn Latham, author of Christlike Parenting: Taking the Pain out of Parenting, stated "In my research on the treatment of behavior problems, I have been astounded to find that if parents remain calm, empathetic and direct even in the face of outrageous reviling, 97 out of 100 times, by the third statement of parental expectations children will comply."  He further states that while some parents may think that a non-combative response gives children the upper hand, allows them to win arguments and places them in control of family matters, this is not the case.

Children are often governed to a great extent by the things that go on around them. One of the things they most want is parental attention. According to Latham "parental attention is the most powerful force or consequence in the shaping of children's behavior." When children fail to draw negative attention by being argumentative, they usually calm down and engage in more socially acceptable behavior. 

Children sometimes engage in arguments to get attention and to have the parents take their side. These arguments often place parents in a no-win position. The can never fully know how the conflict started and what has happened between the children. By taking side, they may reward an undeserving child and alienate the other child.

Parents can often help best by taking a neutral position and by giving the children the responsibility to solve the problems. In our Sunday school class, we roll-played the following to demonstrate and practice good communication skills. 

The situation:  Dad entered the room as Sid, 12, and Vance, 9, were wrestling on the floor, hitting and yelling at each other. Vance began to cry, and Sid called him a baby. Dad stepped in and separated the boys.

Dad: What’s going on between you two?
Sid:         Vance started it.
Vance:      I did not. You started it.
Dad:  So you’re both blaming each other for starting the problem. (Here he is giving them responsibility for solving the problem.) What do you think we should do to solve it?
Vance:    Tell Sid to leave me alone!
Sid:         Leave you alone? What about me? Who was it that took my cards and scattered them all over the floor? Leave my stuff alone, and we’ll get along fine.
Dad: (Remains neutral; uses reflective listening.) So Vance, you’re saying that Sid started it, and Sid, you’re saying that Vance started it by taking your cards without asking.
Vance:    Yeah, well who was it that took my CD without asking?
Dad:      Both of you are blaming each other for taking things without asking. So let me ask again, what needs to happen to solve this problem?
Sid:       Tell Vance to grow up!
Vance:  Why don’t you grow up?
Dad:     (Prepares to impose consequences.) It sounds to me like you want to keep arguing. Maybe you better go to your separate rooms until you’re ready to solve this.
Sid:      I’m ready.
Vance: So am I.
Sid: Tell Vance he needs to ask before he borrows my things.
Vance: Sid never asks me before be takes my things. He needs to ask too.
Dad:    So both of you want the other to ask before borrowing things. Is that right?
Sid:     Yes
Vance: I guess
Dad:     I like that suggestion. Is that agreeable to both of you?
Sid and Vance: (Together) Yes

This dialog may seem a little contrived but it definitely gives you the idea. And, yes, it takes a little more time and effort that just yelling and sending them to their rooms or grounding them. 

Results may not be this successful nor immediate but it is a process that, if you take the time to begin with, will more than pay for itself in the long run.

Let's dissect why this father's arbitration worked. It worked because he
...was able to listen without taking sides
...obtained the boy's cooperation in suggesting and carrying out a solution
...was able to motivate them to look for their own solution  when he proposed a consequence. Although the consequence turned out to be unnecessary, it would have been an appropriate intervention had the children wanted to continue the argument.

This is discipline/teaching as opposed to punishing.

Problem-Solving: A More Productive Approach (in only 
5 Steps!) than "counting to ten" before addressing an issue

Psychologist Susan Heitler, in working with families, found they experienced success in solving conflicts using the following method. Ms. Heitler said it was most successful when family members understand how it works and agree to use it.

Step 1: State Positions
Each person states his or her position or preference---about he or she would resolve the issue---without fear of interruption, attack, or ridicule. Sometimes a solution becomes apparent during this process, although solutions usually come in step 4.

Step 2: Explore Underlying Concerns
Family members explore their positions in greater depth, examining concerns that underlie their positions, both individually and commonly as a family.

Step 3: Brainstorm Possible Solutions
Each person suggests solutions without being attacked or ridiculed. In considering solutions, each person proposes what she or he could do to contribute to a total plan of action that would respond to everyone's concerns. Every solution, no matter how impractical, is written down. This freedom fosters creativity from which a viable solution may emerge.

Step 4: Select a Solution
After brainstorming is completed, family members evaluate each suggestion and create a plan that will be responsive to the concerns of everyone. Since the solution generally needs multiple components to address the concerns of all family members, the family should think in terms of "building a solution set rather than simply a or the solution."

Step 5: Carry Out the Solution
As family members carry out the solution, they evaluate together if modifications are needed, and make them. Occasionally they may find they need to find a different solution. If that is the case, the basic framework is already in place, ready for changes to be made.

                                             adapted from Conflict to Resolution: Skills and Strategies . . . 

A note from Gail: Rather than resorting to "counting to ten" I am trying to visualize the above as my "five finger solution"  realizing that most/much of the responsibility for bringing/keeping peace in the home is in my hand.  Additionally I try to remember that when I am pointing a finger (in any situation with any one) that my other fingers are pointing right back at me!

During Jesus Christ's mortal ministry He introduced a new and better covenant that requires all of us to abide a law higher than the law of retribution found in the Old Testament's Exodus. This new covenant found in the New Testament's book of Matthew tells us to be guided by a desire to do good, to turn the other cheek to those who smite us, love our enemies and pray for those who despitefully use and persecute us; to seek and follow the promptings of the Holy Spirit as we interact with our children, our spouses and others.

As families abide by this new covenant introduced by the Savior, resolving differences in a loving, amicable way, they will enjoy greater love, peace, and harmony in their family relationships. 

When all is said and done, we must always remember
We are their parents, not their peers
We are the adults and must behave as such --- even, or especially, if it requires changing our behavior
We have the sacred responsibility of raising our children in a responsible, productive manner even when that requires sacrifice on our part

Previous posts in this Combating the War Against the Family series are "building blocks" to improving our parenting skills and may be worth reviewing. They include how to ...
...Guard against family breakdown
...Understand child development
...Communicate with love
...Nurture our children
...Foster confidence 
...Communicate expectations
...Teach responsible behavior
...Give choices between acceptable alternatives
...Impose consequences that have been agreed upon in advance
...Overcome parental anger

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