I couldn’t sleep last night. You know when something happens and it weighs heavily on you? When you go over and over it in your mind? I had a night like that.
My kids and I are here in Calgary visiting my sister, Kath, and her two wonderful girls. The kids are having an awesome time with each other. There is just something so very special about cousins. And of course my sis and I always enjoy each other’s company. Although we have little time just the two of us with these crazy kids around we still manage to chat and laugh and catch up.
Those crazy kids!
But, when there is 24/7 togetherness there is bound to be conflict. Little arguments or, like last night, some more significant drama. And when there is conflict there is an opportunity for education and resolution, right? I think most parents would agree on this. However, what I barrelled head-on into last night was that not every parent gets there in the same way.
I am a “doer”. I throw myself fully and immediately into projects at full force. So, when the kids were at a standstill, unable to resolve their issue last night, I dove in to help them. I attempted to gather them together, hear what the others had to say, to have each of them hear the other’s point of view.
The problem was that this would not have been how my sister would have dealt with it. My sister is more passive. My barrel in approach is not her style. To her it seemed loud and forceful. She would have given the kids a chance to cool off and then deal with them individually, helping them see the situation from a calmer place.
This, of course, makes sense too. But, life experience has taught me that dealing with it in the moment guarantees it is dealt with. My fear is that it would simply stagnate and never get resolved. In my experience, if conflict is not dealt with in the moment it often goes unresolved. This can lead to resentment, misunderstanding and avoidance. I want my children to be able to actively resolve conflict in the moment and move on.
Much of this is personality. I HATE conflict and need resolution. Immediately. And then we move on.
My sister HATES conflict and would prefer to walk away and let the conflict subside. Then later discuss solutions to avoid conflict in the future.
Neither of us is wrong and the kids were all fine, jumping on the trampoline and laughing within minutes. But it hung heavily over me last night because I felt the difference in our styles of resolution. I thought a lot about Kath’s style and what is best for our kids. I thought about parenting and our role in preparing our kids for the real world where they will decide for themselves how to resolve conflict. I thought about how my style will influence the rest of their lives.
What I came out of this with was a keen understanding of our different styles, a sense of how my intentions might be misinterpreted and a terribly sleepless night. Ahhh, the joys of parenting.
How do you resolve conflict? How do you deal with different parenting styles?