I was having a conversation with somebody earlier today, and we talked about the different ways that conflict occurs with our children. I’m going to tell you that, as a mom of six, this is so true. If you really hear what I’m saying today, this can really shift the conflicts that you’re having in your house with your children. It is called expectations. When you have an expectation of your child and your child sees that as a different expectation, what happens? Conflict habits. I will give you a great example: I have a few clients that were going through a challenge, and their parents were really concerned about their safety. Who are their friends? Who are they hanging out with? Who are they communicating with on the phone? Who are they texting on social media? Whatever it is, apparently, we know at this age what our kids are getting into. When we looked at that, the parents just wanted their kids to be safe.
However, the kids feel like their parents are spies. They feel like their parents are encroaching on their privacy, that they have no freedom, and that there is no trust. If the child sees it, the expectation is trust, and the parent’s expectation is safety, is there a question of why things aren’t getting resolved? However, when I spoke to this client in particular and it was really about Instagram, I said, “What do you think it is with your family? What do you think is like upsetting your mom or your dad?” She just kept saying, “They just don’t trust me; they just need to trust me. I’m old enough, like if I make a mistake, I’ll get it.” I said, “So what if it was more about safety? What if your parents just wanted you to be safe? They were concerned that you weren’t being safe on the internet, especially on Instagram. The child’s eyes went, “Huh, I mean, I guess I just thought it’s because they don’t trust me.”
Then, I took the same scenario back to the parents. I said, “You see it as safety; you see that you want your child to be safe on Instagram and out in the internet world; I get it and appreciate that. What do you think she’s seeing though?” The parents said, “Well, we’ve told her that we just care about her and we want to make sure she’s okay and safe.” I said, “Okay, yet do you know what she’s hearing? What she’s hearing is, ‘I don’t trust you, I don’t trust you, I don’t trust you.’” The parents were like, “Huh!” So as soon as we were able to really get to the core of what the conflict was, we’re now able to create resolution to it, to create strategies for both sides to realize what’s the common thing here. The child definitely wants trust, and the parents definitely want her to be safe, so what has to happen for that child to show her parents that she’s safe?
What would happen if whatever she did, whether it was texting, Instagram, or whatever, followed what her parents wanted and the parents had full certainty that their child was safe? There wouldn’t be any more conflict. I invite you to think about whether there’s conflict in your life. What was it really about? Were there expectations that weren’t being met? One of my mentors always says, “Trade expectations for appreciation.” What can you appreciate in that moment? Is there a gift you can find in that moment, even when you’re not happy or a little bit upset? Let’s get rid of the expectations; let’s communicate a little bit better. Start to understand our kids, like, what are their expectations versus what are yours? Let’s see how much conflict can be resolved.
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