Strengthen Your Family: Family Feuds and Loud Discussions

CLEARFIELD – Arguing goes hand-in-hand with the teenage years. I once asked a seasoned grandmother of many if she and her children argued much. She replied, “We didn’t argue nearly as much as we should have.” This reminded me of an important concept — the way a family deals with conflict is an important factor in keeping the family close.

There are many negative ways to deal with conflict. You can pretend it doesn’t exist or you can overpower your teen – physically, verbally, or with a bribe. Few conflicts will arise if you buy your teen enough gifts, or if you ignore anything negative. I don’t recommend either of these approaches.

I know a mother who smiles no matter what the issue is. Avoiding needless battles is one of the talents of raising teens. Choosing which battles to fight and which battles to ignore can be learned. I often stop and think to myself, “Will this matter next week?” If the answer is “no,” then the issue can often be ignored. However you can’t continually sweep conflict under the carpet. If you don’t deal with it, it gathers momentum until one day, nothing can stop it. The conflict thunders down on your family and you’re into World War III.

It takes patience and maturity to live with conflict or differences of opinions. Understand that just because your family argues does not have to mean your family is in serious trouble. You and your teen can disagree, argue, and get mad; and still love each other. As you argue and express your point of view, try your best to be respectful and not degrading. Teens are very sensitive to our criticism and negative language. Many nasty and hurtful words have been spoken in haste.

Some families choose not to fight or share differences. I’m not exactly sure how this happens, but I have a feeling it may be a little boring. I’m not advocating constant tension; but teens should be expressing their thoughts and opinions. This is one of their developmental tasks, which helps them to separate themselves from their parents. Learning to think their own thoughts and expressing them rationally is what you want your teen to practice.

In every argument there is a potential for learning. Something your teen says in haste and anger may hold a thread of truth about yourself or your action. Use this to your advantage. If you change your opinion based on your teen’s thoughts, for heaven sakes, be mature enough to share this with your teen. This gives your teen a clue that she’s on track developing her own thoughts.

Additional information is available from your local office of Penn State Cooperative Extension. In Clearfield, the office is located in the Multi-Service Center, or by calling 765-7878. In Brookville, the office is located at 180 Main Street, or by calling 849-7361. Penn State is committed to affirmative action, equal opportunity, and the diversity of its workforce.

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