Conflict in the home can be a disruption in the harmony of a family. Most families would love to create a space of safety, support and unconditional love in their home. This peaceful harmony is too often demolished by the reality of disagreements and rivalry that often occurs when people are living life together. This happens among both parents and kids.
There was a time my husband and I had three boys in the home all under the age of 5. This made for some really funny moments, sweet memories and rambunctious disagreements (usually over who had the green car last and who gets it next, for how long and to do what with…). Playing referee to arguments took up so much of our time, attention, energy and quite honestly sucked the life out of our enjoyment of time together as a family. Where was the unity and support we wanted for our boys?
Not only is it detrimental in our home but it ravishes the schools and workforce too. Learning to disagree respectfully, providing constructive feedback versus criticism and sharing thoughts/Ideas are all soft skills that need to be learned and practiced. In a world where people can anonymously comment on social media and other internet platforms using disrespectful remarks and rude comments, it is more important a skill than ever!
I give to you “Fair Fighting Rules”! Fair fighting rules are often use in marriage therapy to outline expectations for inevitable conflict among spouses.
These rules usually include, but are not limited to:
No degradation language
Take turns talking
Assume positive intentions
No use of the word “divorce”
I say, why limit it to just spouses? Create your own family list of Fair Fighting Rules. Come up with the rules together and come up with a creative way to display them in the home. Frame them and use them often. If you have young children you can create a visual display of the rules, including pictures.
A few things to keep in mind...
Accept input! If each person has a say in what the rules will be, each person will be more likely to follow them. So yes, include the kids. Ask them what feels good and bad when having disagreements.
Follow through is key! If there is no follow through, the plan will just fall by the wayside.
- Keep is simple! Too many rules can be confusing and an outright bother to remember. Many lists are limited to 10, but feel free to make it less for you family.
We are our greatest tool in teaching our children. The more focused and diligently we can teach and reinforce the lessons, the greater potential for success. As my husband would say, “Nothing changes, if nothing changes.”