- Lori K Walters
Why I don’t promise to eliminate conflict with your kid
Conflict with our kids is painful. Things are said that are difficult to un-hear. Hearts constrict. Cracks in relationships turn into chasms.
Wouldn’t it be great if we could have a pleasant connection with them that’s free of conflict, just see eye to eye and feel more harmony and acceptance? It’s what I truly wish for you and every parent.
But you will never hear me promising that your coaching program will produce a relationship with no more conflict.
It’s so great that there are more and more resources available that teach us how to regulate our emotions, listen deeply, develop presence and speak honestly from our sage selves.
But if anyone promises to eliminate conflict with your kids, be very skeptical. Very skeptical.
Why I Don’t Promise to Eliminate Conflict
Conflict is inevitable.
The truth about human relationships is that we ARE going to have conflicts. Whether it’s dirty socks or values, or anything in between, you will differ with these kids with gangly bodies, developing brains, shifting hormones, fluctuating emotions and the pressures of so many ‘first’ experiences.
And those families that never fight? You can imagine what lies beneath the surface: unspoken worries, unheard feelings, tension, denied rage, blame, distrust and detachment. That goes against our basic needs for attachment and eats away at one’s personal sense of security, acceptance and self-esteem. That’s not what you want.
I don’t have your answers.
Your role in your conflicts with your young adult child is a complex melange of beliefs you have adopted about what your relationship should look like, societal norms, the expectations of your friends and family, your own adolescent wounds and more. You are multifaceted, to say the least, and so are your conflicts.
The answers you seek about conflict are unique to you. You have your own path of development and your own wounds to heal. You are unique as a parent, on a unique journey with a unique child. It would be deceptive and, frankly, fraudulent to claim that I already know what you need to resolve or cultivate in yourself so that you can be in a healthier relationship with your child.
I feel angry when I see things like, Here’s how to get your teenager to listen or Here’s how to fix your relationship. These are prescriptions and placebos and, simply put, I’m not a pharmacist. I am an intuitive and embodied guide of personal evolution and my ethics would never allow me to promise something like that.
No, I don’t have your answers - you do. But what I have to offer are the skills to help you discover and implement them. I have the questions that will take you deeper into your own self-awareness. I have the tools to help you develop new relating capabilities. I have the strength and tenderness to walk beside you as you stumble, explore and find your new way of being as a parent to that child.
Conflict is good for you.
I know, it’s sort of like saying Brussel sprouts are good for you… but the truth is that there is relationship gold in conflict.
When we allow conflict to be transparent, when we take accountability for our role in it, and when we learn how to skillfully resolve conflict, our relationships become stronger. Our attachment and sense of belonging improve. There is more resilience, appreciation of differences and tolerance.
We develop a mutual trust with our child that the two of us will be able to find our way through this and that we can love each other despite our disagreements. And that’s what our hearts are really longing for.
So what are the promises I make to my clients?
Deeper Self- Awareness
In our work together, my clients receive a new view into the beliefs they hold about conflict and getting along with their child. Some of these beliefs are deep-rooted in their childhood. Some may be remnants of ancestral trauma or have been adopted recently.
Through coaching, you gain clear insight into how these beliefs shape and propel your patterns – how you constantly scan for warning signs when your kid walks in the room, how you resent and/or avoid your teenager, how you walk on eggshells and hold your tongue, how you worry and imagine the worst scenarios, how you get loud or quiet, etc. Awakening to these patterns is necessary for you to break free from them and shift into a new way of parenting and connecting.
You’re right if you’re thinking that, for real and lasting change to occur, you need to be able to do some things you can’t currently do. That I can promise.
Your beliefs about conflict with your children are deeply ingrained – in your heart, your bodies and your thoughts. Different parts of you may say you should listen, should speak up for yourself, should say nothing, should win, should give in, should make all your points, should focus, should make ourselves understood, should try to understand, etc. And these egoic voices become louder when there’s tension, trying to point you in the right direction. That’s when it’s easy to fall back into the well-worn rut.
But the parents I work with discover ways to get out of their old, auto-pilot patterns and that gradually gives them room to cultivate their new way of being with their child.
What that new way looks like is as individual as the parent and their relationship with their child. But here are some of the skills that have supported my clients to build a better relationship with their kid as they moved through conflict:
Listening deeply, without judgement.
Connecting with and appreciating how the world is seen by your child and being able to truly meet them there.
Finding and using your authentic voice as you express your needs, boundaries and viewpoints.
Being more consistent or more flexible.
Staying present to strong feelings (yours and theirs) and exploring emotions as a source of information.
Creating a warm environment of support, approachability, safety and understanding.
Being truly open to learn something outside your current view.
Being in the ever-changing mystery of parenthood with faith and discernment.
Being able to connect with your essential self and what deeply matters for you.
Being able to ‘be with’ whatever arises.
Peace in your Heart
As you become more self-aware and more resourceful in how you respond to differences, you can see ‘farther’ and ‘deeper’. Things that always led to conflict in the past don’t necessarily have to go that way anymore and there is an increasing sense of choice. What you could only dream of becomes an option now – exploring together, mutual respect, deeper listening, patience, more sharing, balance, ease and acceptance of each other.
At the end of your coaching program, you will be different. You will feel it in how you hold your self and how you think of yourself as a parent. You will see it in your day to day life and how you are relating to and being with your child. You will feel more peace in your heart. And you will feel confident moving forward on your beautiful, messy parenting journey.
And I think those are better promises.
With you on the journey, Lori
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Photo by Rose Erkul on Unsplash