Some life situations are extremely difficult for us. When conflict occurs for our children, parents often tend to defend their children no matter what. The lesson the child learns is that he is always right. That can be crippling to his adult life. What other options might a parent exercise? Here are some suggestions to teach your children when life presents conflicts.
First, treat others with respect and honesty.
The greatest of teachers said, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Some teenage girls struggle for popularity by gossiping about other girls. Deep psychological wounds can be inflicted to a child’s psyche through some of these denigrating and unnecessary comments. Unfortunately, some parents make remarks that are buried deep within a child’s mind. Parents need to model the behavior a child can follow. If I don’t treat others with respect and honesty, my child will not learn this principle.
Second, learn to negotiate fairly, not just to win.
Rarely is a dispute resolved in only one direction. Compromise is the art of learning how to get what you want while letting the other person get what he wants. Sometimes that requires meeting in the middle. Children can learn this art by acting out how to share toys or by having them take steps from a distant until they can reach out to touch each other. Fair negotiations are not total surrenders. I must learn to listen as much as I talk when there is a disagreement. I cannot reason with an opponent in a dispute unless I fully understand his position. To listen to my child’s ideas or objections allows me the position of fully explaining the differences between us and how we can reach a compromise. Only a parent who can admit a mistake will teach child how to negotiate fairly.
Third, honor your commitments, even if it costs you.
We live in a world where honor has very little meaning. Some of us grew up hearing, “A man’s word is as good as his bond.” I watched my father shake hands with a customer, order a car as desired and wait for a check when it was delivered. If the customer – usually by this time a friend – did not remember something, after listening, my Dad almost always worked out a solution. He believed his word was the most important thing he could give.
I watched the face of a child whose father had promised something. When it was obvious the parent’s commitment would not materialized, the child’s face was contorted and through the tears, he said to his father, “But you promised…” It was a moment that father will probably never overcome. His child lost faith in his promises. Sometimes a principle, such as keeping our promises, can cost us a position, a promotion, a friendship, or even finances. Each of us must decide what the price of his integrity is. Every child will know if he has an honorable parent!
Fourth, don’t deceive the face in the mirror – you’ll have to look at every day of your life.
No child ever learned a more important lesson! If we deceive ourselves, we know the truth deep within. The authentic parent models for his child that special integrity which allows the child to feel secure. If the parent deceives the child, his actions will clang so loudly his words will go unheard. Each of us can check ourselves by our reflections in the mirror. A parent who says, “Don’t do that…” to a child, but then fails to be consistent in his own actions practices self-deception. There is no great deception!
We bear a great responsibility to teach our children by living principles. It occurs to me that some of these principles can work for “older” children when we face conflicts or disputes in our churches, city or county politics, clubs or community organizations, especially those involving volunteers. Think about that!