Fathers can successfully resolve family conflicts

Explore these tips for developing family conflict management skills.

When fathers create a more democratic style of family conflict management, all members of the family are more likely to feel safe and comfortable. This style creates an atmosphere of openness and honesty in which families learn to support each other through conflicts, rather than use put downs or attacks.

So, how can a father set up a democratic style of family conflict management? The University of Nebraska’s Great Dads Program has worked with specialists in family communication to develop the following suggestions:

  • The old edict, “My way or the highway!” does not leave any room for some basic negotiations which are critical for fair discussions and successful problem solving. Save ultimatums for your zero tolerance rules like, “No drinking.”
  • Winning is for sports events, not family conflicts. In family conflicts, the ultimate goal is to find solutions that work for everyone. There is rarely only one right answer to a conflict; there can be multiple right ways to solve a problem.
  • Statements like, “You are lying,” “You irritate me,” “Get away from me,” and so on, make people shut down or become defensive or angry. Such hurtful, negative communication puts distance between you and your family.
  • Always try to do twice as much listening as talking. That’s why you have two ears and only one mouth! Listen for the feelings behind the words. Repeat things back to make sure you are really hearing what they are trying to say.
  • The silent treatment, which is actually a form of passive-aggressive anger, is used to manipulate and control other people’s behavior. The only way to really communicate with those you love is to express your feelings honestly and kindly – with words.
  • Bringing up past issues is an easy trap to fall into, but it does not help solve family conflicts. Yes, we can learn from old problems, but the past cannot be changed. The point is to find solutions you can use to move forward and make things better from this moment on.
  • Don’t hold it all in for one big confrontation. Deal with things as they come up, or as soon as you are calm enough to talk about them.

All families have conflicts because families are made up of individuals with unique thoughts, feelings and personalities. Within families, conflicts handled with love and respect for one another can work to bring family members closer together. Family relationships provide the architecture for all other relationships in a person’s life from friends, to co-workers, to life partners.

As a father, you have a unique opportunity to influence the future success of your family members’ life-long relationships by implementing these suggestions for developing a democratic style of family conflict management.

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