Peace is not the absence of conflict but
the presence of creative alternatives for responding to conflict.
Family traditions are handed down from one generation to the next, for better or worse. Unfortunately that includes violent tendencies. Children raised by abusive parents are more likely to become violent adults themselves. This includes tendencies toward physical, emotional and social violence. I remember working with men who sexually abused their children. Some of them thought sexual contact with their children was normal since they had been on the receiving end of it throughout their childhood and adolescence. Some men know that violence is wrong but turn to it as a response to their frustrations and disappointments. They may not have been taught more constructive responses. If the family is a breeding ground for violence, what can be done about it?
It is up to parents to provide fertile ground for planting and nurturing alternatives. If parents were raised in abusive families, their first step is to recognize the pattern, especially if they have adopted the violent ways of their own parents. If their children have become violent, punishment will not correct the problem. It just gives them a strong motivation to find ways to avoid punishment.
Once parents recognize and accept that they are abusive, the next step is to understand their violence. This is a difficult challenge for parents to master alone. Counseling may well be useful in helping them understand the mental and emotional process of becoming angry and reacting with violence. Once they understand this process, they can move on to discover more constructive outlets for unwanted and unpleasant thoughts and feelings. It would be best to address all of this before having children.
Being a parent comes with its own challenges, fears, frustrations and disappointments. It should be no surprise that these difficulties will also face your children least from time to time. Parents who have learned to manage their own conflicts will be in a better position to help their children manage their challenges in a healthy and constructive way. If every family did this, violence in the world would be much less of a problem.
- How did you see your parents handle their challenges when you were a child?
- What did you learn from them about how to manage your challenges?
- Have you learned constructive ways to handle challenges?
- If you have learned to live in peace, share what you learned with your children.
- Don’t expect your children to be perfect but help them develop good life habits.
For more on violence, see my book on Amazon, From Violence to Peace.
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The Holidays are a very stressful time because there’s so much going on! From gift buying to going to parties to hosting family get-togethers…Tensions can run really high! So as parents, what can you do to manage things better for you and your kids? Child and family therapist Dr. Larry Curry was here with his advice.
Excerpt from Seth Gregory’s post and video from KDVR- Watch video
There is no such thing as a perfect family. Behind every door there are issues.
The difference is accepting and encouraging each family member as they are,
not as we would like them to be.
Are you at peace with everyone in your family? If so, congratulations! Be thankful for your family and for your ability to listen to each other and talk about your differences. No two people are the same. Our values and perceptions are all at least a little different. It is inevitable that from time to time we will see things in a way which conflicts with the views of even those closest to us.
If you find yourself in conflict with an acquaintance, it might not trouble you. What that person feels or believes might not matter that much to you and you just go on your way. There are plenty of other people in the world. Disagreeing with a few of them is no big deal. What they think does not affect your daily life. You just let it go unless you are one of those people who think everyone must agree with you.
What about conflict with a family member? Did you grow up in a family where your parents were able to listen to each other, digest what they heard and respond lovingly? I have never met a family which approaches conflict in this way one hundred percent of the time, including my own. You might have been lucky enough to have had parents who handled most conflicts this way. If so, you most likely learned good ways to handle conflict most of the time.
You might have had parents who weren’t so good at managing conflicts. If you never saw good ways to handle difficulties as you grew up, you might find yourself at a loss for how to manage your own conflicts. There are a few ways to improve your ability to handle conflict. Here are a few suggestions you might want to try.
- Find out what is important to the other person and why. Learn how he or she feels about the issue and why.
- Next, think about what is important to you and make sure you understand your own feelings.
- Look for areas of agreement. Share these with each other.
- Share what you love and respect about each other.
- Make sure you understand the other’s viewpoint.
- Agree to hear and respect each other’s opinion even if you don’t agree with it.
- Understanding might lesson the conflict but in the end you might need to accept each other as you both are.
Life Lab Lessons
- Make sure you understand your own position and feelings about areas of conflict.
- Get some help understanding yourself if you need it.
- Do more listening than talking.
- Try to understand your relative’s position and feelings.
- Look for ways to support each other regardless of your differences.