Living with family is not always easy. Living with teenagers can be especially challenging. We find ourselves experiencing hurt, disappointment, and anger, no matter how often we might want to avoid or ignore it. Whether it’s a major life transition, loss, behavioral concern, or just general difference in opinion, unresolved issues can lead to strained relationships that make life seem more rocky. While we cannot prevent this kind of familial discord from happening, we can choose to respond to it in healthy ways that serve to foster positive and supportive communication between family members.
So, what does this kind of communication look like?
Sometimes, good communication requires active listening. In other words, giving our full attention and working to best respond from a place of kindness and compassion. Other times it may require our willingness to confront the problems that we observe in our teen directly, and for us to acknowledge when we are wrong and make mistakes. While we can all tend to focus on what is wrong, we should also consider finding moments to communicate what is going right. With the proper balance, healthy communication through times of conflict can actually be the bridge between differences and the start of a new relationship.
Conflict does not have to be a barrier to communication. Rather, conflict is often a precursor to change, and change is how we grow and mature. It is something to be expected and understood as a natural part of life. When we can experience this, we get to experience the love and grace of God in a genuine way. The kind of grace that heals and restores even the most broken of relationships.
Remember, you are not fighting with your child, but fighting for them. For more about managing family conflict with your teen, consider Breakaway, our Intensive Outpatient Program designed for teenagers that provides a safe and supportive environment to further work through issues with communication, conflict, and more!