Embrace Conflict

A rare moment of peace.  The kids together after Christmas shopping.
A rare moment of peace

Being a parent is not about making every day awesome for your children. It’s also not about daily drudgery. Every moment of your life with kids will not be sunshine and rainbows, or screaming fits among fist fights.

There are good days and bad days, and within the good days there are horrible moments both for you and your children. Blessedly within bad days there are awesome moments too.

Being a parent is about sticking with it, and not giving up. Some parents give up and run away, leading to divorce. Others hide within the home and try to ignore the work that needs to be done. Yet others try to make every moment perfect and turn themselves into their child’s peer. These are all ways of giving up.

Being a parent is hard work. It is the hardest job I have had, not just because of the emotional and physical fatigue, but because the outcome reverberates down the road for generations. It is okay not to be a perfect parent – there’s no such thing as perfect.

You may look at other parents as they drop off their kids at school, and think “they’re so awesome, I wish I was like them, they’re so nice to their kids”. What you see in public is only part of the story. Yes, you may have spent the morning yelling at your kids, but you’re not the only one.

Kids know how to push buttons, and some of them turn it into a sport. If you struggle with it remember “Pause, Breath, Re-engage”. If all else fails, it’s okay to walk away from a situation and close a door, unless of course someone’s going to get hurt if you walk away, then deal with that first.

I have learned the importance of redirecting during conflict. If my kids are going at it like vikings I sometimes remind them of some chores that need doing. Mathias is a great helper and a hard worker who enjoys finishing tasks. If I can get his attention off the sucker punch he just took, he’ll usually go make his bed or gather the garbage or some such.

Noah is more difficult. He can collapse into a screaming, panicking ball of drama on the floor in seconds just by hearing the dreaded two letter word. When he wants something, it’s hard to redirect, and quite often voices are raised just so that he can hear us over his own caterwauling. Food and video games are the go-to with him, which sounds horrible at first, but I left my pride behind years ago. There’s no room for pride in the home.

That brings me to the next thing. Pride. Pride is a destructive force in a family. There is a difference between remaining firm because it’s the right thing to do, and remaining firm just so you win. Being a parent is not about winning. If your kids grow up loathing your very essence then you lost anyway. A child can dislike your discipline and still love you, in which case you will likely have a good relationship as they come to realize later in life that you were right. An overbearing upbringing that never felt fair and where they were not heard is what will alienate them and build resentment.

As parents we need to balance discipline with kindness. A child that is always disciplined and not shown love or praised will rebel. A child who is always praised and cuddled but never disciplined will rebel even more as they search for direction.

Enjoy being a parent, and don’t be afraid of being in conflict with your children. You and they will grow with every battle.

To see that you’re not alone read:

Turn the Crazy Down

Futility

Here’s to Coffee

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Published by jrdobbin

I am a father of four, married for eight years. I live and play in Alberta, Canada.

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2 Comments

  1. My “children” are now you ng men -I still find nuggets of strength from your blog! Thoroughly enjoy reading your posts! Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

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