Archives for October 2012

When the Going Gets Tough: Handling Family Conflict

Today’s blog post is submitted by our featured guest contributor, Rachel Taylor, M.S.  Enjoy the post and look forward to future posts from Rachel.

 As schedules get busier, school starts back up, and the days get shorter it can difficult to get enough sleep and eat well. Usually when we’re stressed, our mood plummets, making us snappy and irritable.  This isn’t just true for you as a parent, but also for your children.  When we are in that bad mental space, it’s much easier to get drawn into conflict that we might normally let go or have more patience with. 

Kelly Nault, author of “When You’re About To Go Off The Deep End, Don’t Take Your Kids With You,” promotes the idea that if you put yourself first as a parent you will have more to give to your children.  So, in an effort to support you in this, I have included three tips from Kelly’s book. 

  1. Establish Family Rules For Conflict- As a family; create some sort of document that you can refer back to during conflict.  Include things like: we are specific when we talk about our problems, we forgive one another, we are honest, we don’t yell or put another person down, etc. Create this document when things are going well and really try to refer back to it whenever things get heated.  The more everyone feels involved in creating the “rules,” the more every member of the family will use it.
  2. Use a ‘Parents’ Timeout- Timeouts are often used as punishments when a child misbehaves, but they can also be used during times of conflict.  If you as the parent, allow yourself to ‘disengage’ from the argument and take a break, you can return to it later with a clear head.  This strategy works because although you cannot control your children all the time, you CAN control yourself. 
  3. Perform ‘Daring Do-Overs”-No one is perfect. In fact, we usually make mistakes that we wish we could take back.  Instead of feeling guilty, try a ‘do over’ and try again.  This strategy helps to decrease conflict as well as giving all family members the opportunity to behave well, increasing the chance of it happening in the future.

 For more information, check out Kelly’s book or check out her website at: www.mommymoments.com

Rachel Taylor is a Marriage and Family Counselor in private practice in Corvallis.  She provides parenting education as well as child, family, individual and couples counseling services.

Can children be truly “colorblind”? Should they be?

Children enter this world with very few notions about the differences that exist between themselves and their peers. As they grow older they begin to notice the visual differences between themselves and those around them. They notice the similarities as well. Eventually, like it or not, children will point out the differences that they see. As adults, who have internalized the social norms (some may call it etiquette), we cringe when our children blurt out,while pointing “look at how funny looking she is!”

As children enter school and have peers of various sizes, genders, colors, etc. they will begin to create categories for them. Meanwhile, many parents are at home desperately trying to teach our children to overlook things like the color of someone’s skin, or the shape of their eyes. In an effort to raise “colorblind” children many parents will completely ignore that differences exist among people.

This is a crucial mistake. Trying to teach our children to ignore human differences causes us to forfeit a chance to have a conversation about accepting others as they are. Children need to create categories for people to fit into. This is how they organize their world and the information around them. Parents can honor this human tendency and still teach their children about important concepts such as tolerance and justice. It is fine (and necessary) to acknowledge differences in gender, race, culture, religion, etc. as long as we are having conversations with our children about how beautiful our differences are in an accepting and tolerant manner.

Giving our children the skills to talk about and ask questions about the variations in humanity gives them the language and skills to inform and communicate with ALL people as they mature. Society could truly benefit from more discourse that leads to sharing and understanding of others.