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Parenting: Conflicts and Avoidance, Part 1

March 25, 2014

All kinds of experts say “Don’t bring up the past” “Don’t name call” “Focus on the action, not the person” etc., etc. There is a right and proper way to communicate and to argue. If we adults need constant training on this, then why would we think our children are automatically learning this?

In our 18 years of marriage the Chief and I have had to work on this. One thing in our favor with this lifestyle is that you learn life is too short–you can’t hold a grudge and stew about something for days when you’re not guaranteed a phone call. I’ve said the Chief and I fight better over the phone because there is nothing like the phone cutting out on you to make you not mince words. Yes, it is hard to argue this way because you can’t see the person’s expressions, tonal quality is hard to gauge… but I will tell you, we can get more said in two hours than we can in an all-nighter arguing.

So we have learned to deal with conflict as soon as possible. We don’t always but we try. And when we do we also try not to bring up the past. I was really big on bringing my complaints to the Chief right away. This sometimes left the Chief feeling like a shotgun had been pulled on him. Like any other human being, he reacted by bringing up some of his complaints. I’d usually respond very negatively and then say, “That was three months ago. If it wasn’t important enough to bring up then, it’s not important enough to bring up now.” We’ve come a long way and I’ll even concede that sometimes things do have to wait because of circumstances beyond our control.

Another thing that is really important to me is being able to make amends. I like being given the opportunity to either defend myself, explain myself, or to correct an error and ask for forgiveness. I can’t do any of these things if I am not aware there is an issue. Often when I am confronted down the road I am more angry that time has gone by than the accusation itself, especially if I have wronged the person. I do not like being denied the chance to improve myself and make amends. I find it disrespectful. “Down the line” becomes more about how the person reacted and their continued hurt feelings more than the offense. I can only apologize for what I did, not for the stewing and anguish a person chooses to go through if they never seek a resolution with me. Personal accountability is a BIG thing with me and I will be the first to apologize and accept responsibility if I have wronged someone.

The problem with “Down the line” and dragging up the past is that ALL the past can now be brought up and ALL parties better be prepared for that. And it can get ugly. Dealing with something in the present usually avoids this. The issue at hand can be looked at for what it is–an action and a choice. The hurt is there and addressed but it isn’t the prolonged festering and perceived hurt that often comes with unresolved issues. You end up avoiding the what ifs and the paranoia that comes with never addressing an issue.

I also believe that if you are going to bring up a grievance, you better be sure they cannot bring up your actions as well. Remember, if you point a finger, three point right back at you. Normally you would think this would lead to avoidance. “Oh man, I know I did this so I can’t say anything to her.” But the interesting thing is that once you live and practice taking things head on and you’ve had chances to apologize and make amends, you have less and less to regret and worry about being thrown in your face. If you are going to confront someone you have to be willing to see that they may have a grievance against you and you can’t get defensive about it. You have to graciously accept a Mea Culpa if you ever expect them to hear your complaint and make amends.

Part 2: Where all this is leading….

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2 comments

  1. […] slapped in my face over and above the issues we just had with T1 and my friends (Parenting Parts 1, 2, 3)). I know there are times when the rage is barely kept in check but it would take provocation […]


  2. […] lost loved ones, friendships have died an unnatural death because of earlier events this year (see Parenting 1, 2, & 3), and for the first time in many years I wasn’t able to go to the local […]



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