Achieving Household Peace … It’s Not As Impossible As You Might Think

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A Family Peace Treaty: The Solution To Family Conflict?

BY JULIET REINER

Family life with teenage children is not always as joyous and harmonious as it appears to be on the American sitcoms you might have watched in the past, like Family Ties, The Cosby Show or even Modern Family. In fact, sometimes family life can feel like war and peace! Whether the fighting is between siblings or teens and parents, when positive communication breaks down, things can escalate quickly and family life can become hostile.

Are arguments disrupting peace in your household?

When two countries go to war, resolution is reached via a peace treaty.  Both sides commit to the process of finding a solution, and each side has to give a little to get a little.  Family wars are no different.  You can resolve conflict within your own family with a peace treaty.

There are a few guidelines you’ll need to follow to be effective with your peace treaty.  To start, set aside uninterrupted and distraction-free time for a family conference, where each family member should be prepared to listen respectfully and speak respectfully to other family members.  Family members should also think about their answers to the following questions before attending a family conference –

  • Why am I disagreeing with my family members?
  • What has my family member done to affect the disagreement?
  • How have I contributed to the ongoing conflict?
  • What can my family member do to show me they’re serious about resolving our conflict?
  • What can I do to show my family member I’m serious about improving things between us?
  • What one or two things need to change for you to make peace?
  • What could you do, or give up, to make peace a reality?
  • What can other people do/not do to help support your peace treaty?
  • If either or both of you don’t manage to keep to the peace treaty, what needs to be done?


Speaking and listening play an equally important role in the success of a family conference.  When you’re talking, make sure you use specific descriptions and focus on how the conflict makes you feel.  Use assertive language (e.g. “I feel…., when you…., it makes me….”), and give the other person an opportunity to respond. Likewise, show you’re listening by listening more than you talk, asking questions to clarify critical information, resisting the urge to argue thoughts, feelings or perceptions, and respecting reasonable requests.

If your conflict continues, you might need to seek additional help to reach an effective peace treaty, but remember, as John F Kennedy said

“Peace is a daily, a weekly, a monthly process, gradually changing opinions, slowly eroding old barriers, quietly building new structures”.

Juliet is a warm and compassionate registered psychologist with more than 15 years of experience working with children, adolescents, young adults and families. She has a special interest in working with adolescents experiencing depression, anxiety, self-harm, school refusal, self-esteem issues, family breakdown, behavioural difficulties, HSC and school-stress. Her areas of expertise with children include developmental and behavioural difficulties, emotion regulation, parenting and school issues, family breakup, social skill development and friendship issues.


 

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