Parenting can be a challenging journey filled with moments of conflict and arguments. As a 21st-century parent, it's crucial to embrace these conflicts and view them as opportunities for growth and connection. In this episode of The Apparently Parent Podcast, we explore the importance of conflicts in parent-child relationships and offer practical guidelines for handling them. Discover how conflicts can strengthen your bond with your child and empower both of you to communicate effectively.
Conflicts are a Natural Part of Communication
Conflicts are an inherent part of human communication, as we all have different needs, interests, and limited resources. When we view the mere existence of conflicts as a problem, we fall into a trap.
It's essential to recognize that it's our reactions and how we resolve these conflicts that truly matter. By acknowledging this, we can begin to shift our perspective on conflicts and embrace them as valuable learning experiences.
Why Conflicts Are Hard
Many parents struggle with conflicts, hoping for a calm and harmonious family life. However, conflicts between parents and children are inevitable. It's crucial to explore why conflicts can be challenging for us as parents. Sometimes, our own history of harsh conflicts or dismissive parenting influences our reactions. Additionally, losing control during conflicts can leave us feeling guilty and unsure of our parenting identity. Understanding these underlying factors can help us approach conflicts with a new mindset.
Handling Conflicts Like a 21st-Century Parent
Rather than avoiding conflicts or resorting to authoritarian control, it's essential to approach conflicts with a mindful and positive parenting mindset. Here are some guidelines to consider:
Be Mindful and Predict Conflicts
Developing mindfulness in your interactions with your child can help you anticipate conflicts before they escalate. Pay attention to your emotions, thoughts, and feelings, and stay present during your communication. By being more aware, you can better respond to conflicts with intention and composure.
Shift from Winning to Resolution
Conflicts are not about winning or losing; they are about finding resolutions that benefit both parties. While children might interpret conflicts as winning or losing, it's crucial to foster a different perspective. Recognize that resolution doesn't require someone to win but rather aims for understanding, empathy, and compromise.
If you find yourself falling into a winning or losing mentality during conflicts, practice creating distance from these thoughts. When such thoughts arise, say to yourself, “I notice that my mind is telling me that I'm winning or losing.” By observing these thoughts without immediately acting on them, you can release their grip on your emotions and engage in healthier conflict resolution.
Be the Leader of your Ship
Imagine parenting as being the captain of a ship. As a parent, you guide the journey and steer through conflicts. Embrace your role as the captain by approaching conflicts with a sense of leadership, calmness, and intention. Remember that conflicts can be opportunities for growth and connection, and by navigating them skillfully, you can strengthen your parent-child relationship.
Conflicts are not to be feared but embraced as opportunities for growth and improved communication with your child. By adopting a 21st-century parenting mindset and applying the guidelines shared in this podcast episode, you can transform conflicts into valuable learning experiences. Approach conflicts with mindfulness, shift from a winning mindset to resolution, create distance from unhelpful thoughts, and be the captain of your parenting ship. Embracing conflicts can lead to stronger bonds and healthier communication, benefiting both you and your child.
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Ep. 68 - Embracing Conflicts
[00:00:00] Gentle parenting means that I should never ignite a conflict or an argument with my child, because that would hurt our connection. Do you agree with that statement? And if so, does it really work for you? And this episode, you're going to learn why conflicts are actually a good thing for you and your children and your parenting. So stick around.
All right, my friend, welcome to another episode of The Apparently Parent Podcast, episode number 68. I am very happy and grateful that you are here with me today. I think that if you chose to press play on this particular episode, in this particular podcast, it means that you may be struggling in your parenting with you also know that parenting is one of the most important things that you'll ever get to do in your life. And you want to do better for yourself, for your children to achieve the best for yourself and for them. You want to transition from being the conflicted and confused parent into what I call the 21st century parents who are more at ease with themselves. They know where they want to go. They deal with whatever is coming up and they have a plan in mind. And in this episode, we're going to [00:02:00] talk about why conflicts between you and your children matter and what you should do when they arrive. Because you see, a lot of times I get from other parents, these kinds of questions in social media or people who come to my office for some kind of consultation. And I also feel it in my own daily lives. I don't like conflicts. I really don't. I just want us all to get along. Me and my wife and my kids and everybody, I really don't like conflicts. Never have. And maybe that's one of the problems. Yeah, maybe that's one of my struggle points as a parent and as a human being.
And many parents really want everything to be calm, like everything to go smoothly. To have no arguments, no conflicts. They ask, how can I stop fighting with my child? How can I stop arguing with my child on this and that? Getting your shoes in the morning, going to bed. yada, yada, yada.
And the thing is that what happens is that you usually get into some kind of conflict. And when I say conflict in the context of this episode, I'm talking about arguments, or simple fights . I'm not talking about, you know, verbal abuse about really physical fights. I'm not talking about the types of fights where you're just lashing out on each other, not talking to each other after, after that for a couple of hours or days or whatever. I'm talking about conflicts. I'm talking about an argument. Some kind of indecision. Some thing that you want and they don't want or vice versa. And then, both you and your child feel bad after that. And you tend to feel guilty. Why did I do that? Why is this always happening to me or maybe why does he always does that to me? et cetera.
And you get caught up in this mixer of shame and guilt and shaming and guilting, and really feeling bad about even going [00:04:00] into this place of being in a conflict. Why couldn't I just give this up for the sake of my child? Why can't he just be more flexible? And all that.
But I want to offer a different perspective on this area. And mark this next sentence , because this is the gist of everything here. Conflicts are not your problem. Conflicts are not your problem. Arguments are not the problem. Those little fights you have with your children are not the problem. Disagreements are not the problem.
It's how you react. And how you resolve the conflicts that matters.
You see, conflicts are a natural part of human communication. Yeah, we all may think that it's going to be so nice if we can just all get along. But we can't. Because we live in a world where we have different needs and different interests. And limited resources. And sometimes you may want or need something
that isn't aligned with someone else. Now, yeah, it can be something like you want to drive safely to work and there's this crazy person in another car that is driving like a maniac. Or maybe you want to get in time to work and there's this garbage disposal truck that is blocking the way and driving really slowly and, you know, making your commute longer.
But there are some conflicts with people that we actually know and care about. Maybe your child doesn't feel like going to school, not because he's sick or something like that, just because he doesn't feel like he's and you can't take your day off your work because you have to go to work.
So that's another kind of conflict. All right. It's just part of who we are. Of how we communicate because we [00:06:00] are. openly communicating with eachother.
Throughout history we humans created systems for conflict resolution. I think the most prevalent one was going out to war. Or just little skirmishes between tribes or all out wars. Which obviously is the worst kind of conflict resolution. Because, everybody gets hurt. Even people who are not part of the conflict you get hurts. And, you know, even when someone quote unquote wins, nobody really wins. No one wants that.
We also developed a different kind of conflict resolution system, which is, the legal system, the court system. You can litigate, you can sue someone and there's a judge who's supposed to be this objective figure to resolve the conflict for you. That's a more civilized kind of conflict resolution. And courses and books about conflict resolution it's just part of life.
And because it's such a natural kind of communication in life. Your children really need to learn how to be with a conflict. How to handle conflicts without being afraid of them. Without running away from them without giving up too easily on their values and what's important to them. Also without trying to control the other side too much without needing to win every conflict they get into.
They need to learn how to really be with the conflict, really let the conflict be, and then maneuver within that experience. And they can't just do that. We have to train them.
And we do so, naturally, by our daily communication with our children. Because conflicts arise. You want to get to school in time so you can get to work in time and they want to change clothes all of a sudden, or they can't decide on what they're going to wear, or they don't want to go to bed in time. Or you, you decided to have a date night and the babysitter comes and then the children throw a tantrum because they don't [00:08:00] want you to go out or whatever.
I'm bet that easily, you can count at least 10 types of conflicts between you and your children in a heartbeat. Right. It's just what happens all the time. Now, the question is, what do you do when it arises? How do you react? How do you conduct yourself? How do you enforce your needs or your listen to your children needs, et cetera.
And there are many systems for conflict resolution. But the basis of that is how do we even want to be ourselves as the adults in this situation, how do we want to conduct ourselves inside the conflict? What do we want to achieve? These are things which we have to think about. And usually you don't think about that because it just happens. You don't plan to go into a conflict and then, Hmm, maybe I need to think about what I'm doing here.
But this is why we have podcasts like this one to make you think about these things, not during the conflict, but before the conflict. Now, when you're driving or running or, whatever you're doing right now, I just want to open your mind into the possibility that today you're going to have some conflict with your child and maybe you can conduct yourself differently.
So I think that you need to start with thinking a little bit about why conflicts are hard for you, even if you think they are not. I think for most of us, even if you know how to be inside an argument, there's a sense of struggle here. Right? Especially when it comes from our kids.
Sometimes you have your own bad history of being in hard or harsh conflicts as kids. So maybe, when you, as a child stated your needs and that conflicted with those needs of your parents, they came down on you quite harshly. And then I'm not necessarily talking about abuse. I'm talking about dismissal, I'm talking about, you know, it's my way or the highway kind of parenting.
And, and et cetera, not, not the kind of conflict [00:10:00] resolution that I'm going to share with you in a second, but something that is more authoritarian, or only dismissing.
As a child, you will learn that stating what you want to do and, and entering a conflict can be quote unquote dangerous. Okay. So maybe it lies there somewhere, even in some sub conscious level.
And another thing is that, when you are having this kind of moment with your child, conflict and argument or fight. You sometimes tend to lose control because you, you are not regulated. Your emotions and thoughts are not regulated in the moment. And when you lose control, you feel like crap.
Because, Hey, how, again, I'm entering this loophole, this trap of being too angry too controlling too whatever. Too not who I want to be. Ever had the thought after an agreement that you becoming your mum. Or your dad? Ever had that second, when you, you said something and you instantly hear it in your mind in thinking, whoa, I'm talking like my dad used to talk to me. This is what I'm talking about, right. You you feeling like you, not the kind of very, you want to be. Okay.
But what if you could handle conflicts like a 21st century parent. A parent that is mindful about being a positive parent in a controlled manner in, in a, in a way that sees everybody and achieves a kind of resolution that is beneficial for everybody. But still preserving the role of the parent.
So what I want to do in the next couple of minutes is to suggest. A couple of guidelines, if you will. Or, or not, not a formula because I don't think that in relationships, we can be too formulaic. We can strategize and say, what do these do that? Do this, do that. People are not computer programs. We can't code that, but we can preserve some [00:12:00] ideas of guidelines or principles that we can keep in mind whenever things like that happen.
Don't get me wrong and start to create conflict in purpose. Okay. You don't need to, because as I've said, and I'm sure I'm right about that, you can easily find five to 10 conflict points between you and, and children. And any given moment you can think about things that happen during the day. What I do want you to do, it's to listen carefully. Be more mindful about the communication between you and your child and notice when things are starting. Starting to rise into something that may become an argument or a conflict. Be more attentive to your own emotions, your own feelings, your thoughts, and try to predict what's going to happen. That's what I mean. Don't get surprised by that. And they will come. conflict will come. Okay. And when they do don't run away from the conflict by either giving up too early to the child. Okay. Or controlling the child and making them do your bidding harshly. Okay. Because. Neither this option or the other option, is a real resolution. Because that leads me to the second point here. The second principle is that when I'm talking about the conflict resolution in that manner, I want you to remember that a resolution doesn't mean winning. No one needs to win. This is not a court case. This is not a fight in, I don't know where people fight, like in, in a boxing ring. Okay. Whatever. This is an argument between two people who love each other. Who are there for each other parent. And a child. So nobody really needs to win. Now, children will usually take that into the language of winning. I won or I lost, because that's what we tend [00:14:00] to do. This is what we sometimes did teach our children, when we talk about winnings and stuff like that. But in our context, in our case, I really want to stress this out. This is not about winning. You don't need to win over your child and you, and, you know, even if you quote, unquote, give into your child and let them get their way, essentially, it doesn't mean you lost. Okay. Now if you are still stuck in this you have to work on that. You have to notice that, just notice that these are the words your mind is bringing up in those moments. I'm going to win. I lost. I'm losing. He's winning. Try to kind of take the sting away from these thoughts by, you know, a simple trick is whenever these thoughts arise, stop for a second, notice the thought, and then repeat it by saying, wow I noticed my mind is telling me that I'm winning. Or I notice that I'm having the thought that I'm losing this argument.
When you do that, when you add the I noticed that my mind is doing that, or I noticed that I'm having the thought or I'm having the feeling, before you repeat the thought itself, you're creating a distance between yourself and the thought, and then you're able to look at the thought.
And, and, and be with the thought with that acting on it. And with that actually incorporating into your being into yourself and believing it. So if you notice yourself going quickly, into this winning losing situation, black and white, work on releasing the stronghold of these thoughts by, by doing this little trick. Sounds funny, but trust me on this. It works. I know it works for my own personal experience and from people that I've worked with, it's one of those little methods that have been shown to work even in studies. It's it's, it's so [00:16:00] simple and it's powerful.
When you move from this place of winning and losing and, and remembering that you don't need to create a conflict, you just need to allow yourself to step into them when they happen and you don't have to win. I want you to remember that you are the captain of this ship.
Now if it's the first time you're listening to this podcast, or you don't remember me talking about that, let me rehash this metaphor for you. Because I believe that you can look at parenting like that. When you when you became a parent, when your first child was born, you were given a ship.
Now you can imagine whatever kind of ship you want. It can be a little boat, it can be a huge yacht, it can be a catamaran, whatever you like. Okay. And you were instantly promoted to the role of the ship's captain. You didn't have to work your way up and in the ladder of ranks, you know, starting from the lowest ranks and working your way up learning how ships work and how to command people and all that. You were instantly being parachuted into this role of ship's captain. The the top dude, the top man. Who says how everything's supposed to be, and everybody's supposed to listen to and has all the responsibilities. The problem is that you were never really taught how to do that. And this is why you get stuck sometimes you get conflicted and, my work, my life's work here in this podcast and other venues is to help people assume their roles as ship's captain.
And, and it's relevant here because as the ship's captain, you have to remember to you, you have the final word. So if you argue with your children in, it's true of even if you have teenagers. You are the parent. You order a legal guardian, you are responsible for them. You have the final word.
May not come easily, but you have the final world. Okay, it's up to you. So, allow yourself to be in the argument. Which means you save to listen. Because yeah, you can be the [00:18:00] authoritarian parent who tells them, Hey, it's my way or the highway. And listen to me or feel the consequences and stuff like that. So, I don't want you to go to that place because that's not a healthy respectful resolution. That's not the conflict resolution of the 21st century parents.
That's maybe a conflict resolution in, I. I don't know, 17 or 18 century pirates. But you're a different kind of ship's captain. Okay. So yeah, you have the final word but you need to get the cooperation of your child and you do so by being an active, caring, listener.
And it's important to repeat that. Active, and caring listener, listen to what they have to say. So often, and I am guilty of that as much as you do, so often we step into their words because we think we know what they're going to say. And even if we do know what I'm going to say, because sometimes kids are predictable,
let them finish the sentence. Really listen with your heart and your mind, not just with your ears. Don't be preoccupied with your phone on anything else. Really listen to what I have to say. And showed him that you care about what they have to say, even if you don't agree with what they want or demand or whatever.
Because eventually you will have the final word but when you give them the sense and the notion and real authentic, feeling that you care about what they want, but you can't allow that maybe and state your reasons. Okay. I really know that you you like your new shoes. But we're going to the beach and you're not taking your new shoes with you. Because they were going to get ruined. Just something that came up to my mind right now, or, yeah, I know that you, I really know that you love ice cream. I love ice cream too. But you can't have ice cream for lunch.
And those are very simple examples. And if you have other examples that you feel like you're stuck with, share it with me, go to my Instagram account, Apparently Parent, find the [00:20:00] DM box and share it with me and I will do my best to help you. Maybe I can, you know, share those examples in, follow up episode and suggest some ways to resolve those conflicts, or if you have your own tricks of resolving those conflicts in a respectful and helpful manner, we would love to hear them as well. So I just want to reinstate that you, I want you to try and be in this place of calmness as much as possible because yeah, you're going to get mad. You're going to get frustrated. You're in a rush. That's fine.
But connect with them, connect with them, connect with them. and that you care. And then, you know, you'll have the final word. And try to foster the sense of togetherness. It's something that sometimes parents and, and again, I'm a parent Myself. I'm in the trenches with you guys. So I know, I know it feels because it happens to me again and again and again, I'm just trying to work on that and I am working on becoming more mindful into those spaces.
We tend to have to enter into the space of you against them. Me against you. The parent against the child, the parents against the child, one parent against another parent against the child.
We are a family. We are sailing this ship together. If we are in a constant state of conflict, of a mutiny, if you will, it's very hard to go forward. And. Even if we go for it, it sounds really fun. And we are here to enjoy each other.
We are here to have fun as a family and you can foster the sense of togetherness. As much as possible. Okay, why are we fighting? Yeah. We can, we can argue, we can have points of disagreements. We can have all those moments of you want this I want that. Okay, but let's see how we [00:22:00] can together resolve this.
How we can foster the sense of being together. Yes. I'm the parent. We are the parent. parents and, and we have the final word. That's fine. That's our job. It comes with the fact that we take care of you physically. We give you a home. We give you food and shelter and then, you know, after school classes and all of that.
It also means we are responsible for your safety and wellbeing. But we also want to hear from you. And we care about that. We listen. We care, we incorporate your needs and wishes. However, and how much we can. And sometimes we just can't do that. Right. So.
To sum this up. There is no real formula for a healthy conflict resolution the way I see it, because every family is kind of different.
It's so important to be aware of the context of whatever you're going through with your family. But if you follow this principles or guidelines, I think you will be on a better track to have those moments easier, working more smoothly and you will see how conflicts become less of an issue. They become less conflicting. If you will. And easier for you to handle. Less guilt provoking or shame provoking. Okay. And also less frequent. To be honest. So just let's recap, those simple principles.
For one last time before we finish this episode off. And we were talking about that nobody needs to win. Okay. Get the notion of winning and losing out of your mind. And if you notice yourself going to those places, remind yourself. This is just a thought. I'm having a thought that I need to, when I'm having a thought that I lost and all that , it will take time until you will flush this out of your system.
And, it's going to be better if you can do so, even outside your parenting. So notice how you sometimes feel like that when you're [00:24:00] driving. Like, you know, this person cut me off so much means I lost, but eventually we got to the to the red light. To give her. And even if we don't, I didn't lose, it's not a fight.
We, we, we not competing in the formula one. Okay, so nobody needs to win. And when you accept that, nobody we need. So when you can be more at ease, As the ship's captain, as the leader of this family. Where you have the final word. And you can enforce your decisions as a parent.
But you do so by getting their cooperation. By being an active, caring, listener and fostering this sense of being together as a family, we are one unit, one group of individuals. Tied together in this ship, doing our best to get to safety, to get to calm waters, to get to, to this beautiful gulf where we can swim with dolphins. Okay. Whatever image you want to have in your mind.
But we are doing this together and yes, along the way, along this parenting journey, we are going to have arguments. We are going to have conflicts. You're going to be mad at me. I'm going to be mad at you. But essentially we will, we are a family working together and we love each other. This is why we can endure conflicts without having them turn into clashes or, or weeks of not talking to each other, or just feeling like we are hurting each other. Feeling shame, feeling guilt, feeling awful. Conflicts are not a pleasant experience. Yeah. This is why you should not seek them out. But who said that parenting is a pleasant experience? 100% of the time.
Who said life is a pleasant experience 100% of the time. It's not, it can't be.
So with that. Remember. You're the captain of your ship. You have the final word. But you can have you crew feel respected and seen. Because that's [00:26:00] a true conflict resolution when everybody feels seen, respected, and understood. And with that. Thank you so much for listening to this episode. I hope you got something useful out of it. If you do, please share it with your friends, your families, your coworkers. Em, whomever you want to share this with on social media. And or wherever if you do share this on Instagram, please tag me at Apparently Parent. And let me know that you would like this or dislike this. If you don't agree with me, let me know as well. Subscribe to this show on your favorite podcasting app, if you haven't done so yet. So you will not miss a new episode that comes in every Thursday. And with that, I wish you a wonderful, wonderful parenting journey. See you next week.
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The Apparently Parent Podcast
On this show, I share with you my perspectives and experience of parenting and psychology.
Enhance your understanding of the relationship with your child and yourself by learning about attachment, mindful and playful parenting mindset and techniques.
Listen to me sharing my knowledge and experience both as a parent and a therapist, as well as interviews with parenting experts from around the world.
Your Host – Eran Katz
I’m a clinical psychologist and parenting counselor specializing in attachment theory. I’m also the father of two children who are my best parenting teachers.
I believe that parenting is one of the most important jobs we ever do. This is why I created Apparently Parent and The Parenting MAP. My goal in life is to help as many parents as possible become 21st Century Parents, moving from chaos to harmony and building an enduring, meaningful relationship with their children.