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Tackling Family Challenges: A teen’s guide to surviving and thriving in the midst of conflict

Conflict is inevitable.  As long as we have relationships, we will experience conflict.  Research even shows that conflict can be a vital part of strengthening relationships, as we work to rebuild the connection together relationships can go on to be stronger than they were initially.

For many of us, we are spending more time with our immediate family than ever before.  Sometimes inevitably more time can equal more conflict rising to the surface.  Teenager, you are not powerless in navigating family relationships.  There are some tools to help you move towards less family conflict.

Apologize and forgive

Asking for forgiveness is challenging.  As humans our innate tendency is to protect ourselves, and most all of us have some amount of pride in us.  Saying “I’m sorry” is simple, but can also be hard!  Make it a point in your daily life to apologize easily, knowing that it means a great deal in your connection with people.

As you consider the repair opportunities in your relationships, take a moment to:

-Acknowledge the misstep

-Accept responsibility for your part in it.

-Apologize to any hurt parties.

-Find ways to make amends.

-Think about what you can do next time so you don’t repeat the error.

Choose your words and how you say them carefully

It is significant that we find ways to be honest with our feelings. And that we do so with respect.

Be assertive.  Being assertive is different than being aggressive!  Assertiveness means that we are committed to honestly conveying our feelings and are willing to stick with communication to help the other person understand our perspective.  Assertive communication requires us to do more than spew our emotions out on someone, but to consider what we really want to communicate for the good of the relationship.

Be kind.  Consider how your words are coming across.  Consider how your tone and body language impact the conversation.  Often we use angry words and tone because we want the person to know we are mad.  We have the opportunity when we choose how we communicate to temper the situation while still conveying our feelings.  Ask yourself as you are speaking, “am I adding fuel to a fire?” 

Our goal in relationship communication can be to speak clearly, to represent our feelings truthfully, and to do so in ways that are not demeaning or hurtful.

Be willing to give

It is easy to spend time and energy focused on ourselves.  What we want.  How we feel.  How we think we should be treated.  Making sure things feel “fair” as we navigate relationships.

One of the best things we can do for our relationships is to foster an attitude of generosity.  The people around us want to be loved and cared for just as much as we do.  Help those you are connected with to be able to see, feel, and have confidence in your love for them.  We can be generous with our words, our affection, our time (every parent loves clean dishes!), and how we spend our money or resources.  Make it a point to give of yourself to the people around you.

Pursue peace with others

Romans 12:18 says “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”

Regardless of your spiritual beliefs, this applies well to each of us.  Part of managing conflict is understanding what we do not have the power to change.  Although we can communicate calmly and respectfully with others about how their actions affect us, we do not have the power to change the people around us.

We do, however, have the ability to gauge how our actions and words might be creating disharmony in our relationships.  As you experience family conflict, ask

-Am I escalating this conflict with my words or how I’m saying those words? (Tone and body language matters!)

-Am I acting selfishly?

-Have I calmly and kindly communicating how I feel?

-Does the person in front of me know that I want to have a good relationship with them?

-Am I treating this person with the value they deserve?  Have I expressed that I care?  Am I giving encouragement?

-Is there anything else I may be doing to exacerbate conflict?

Relationships are challenging!  For help with the parent-teen relationship (or others!), contact us at Amy Wine Counseling.


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