Every side is ‘right’, in their mind
Years ago, a fight broke out in my sitting room. I raced in to see my two warring toddlers, pulling at the toy they both passionately believed should be theirs. In each of their heads, they were in the right.
Ordinarily, I would have told them off, removed the toy, talked about what things are worth fighting over and what things are not, then found a way to reach a compromise. I’m not sure why, but that day, that isn’t what happened. That day, I sat on the floor with arms outstretched and said,
Oh dear, what are YOU going to do to sort this out?Mummy Dunklin
That was the moment that changed the future of our family life.
Conflict resolution, a life lesson to save the world
From the safety of my embrace, both children looked at each other and set about the task of resolving the problem, anger and tears forgotten. They fully understood ‘sorting it out’ was their responsibility. The potential to hold on to resentment years down the line disappeared. Henceforth, that was the way we rolled.
If we stop children fighting?
We end up with adults who lack the emotional maturity to deal with opinions they disagree with or behaviour they don’t like. Instead of being able to discuss their feelings directly with the person involved, resentment and anger build up unchecked, a ticking bomb inside that fuels irrational and disproportionate response. They are unable to address the problem at the time, or in the future. To them, it’s easier to stay at war than face the problem. Hence, families, friends and nations ‘fall out’, damage is done, potentially forever.
The explosion, the war, the consequences are never worth it. Lives are ruined or lost as people refuse to talk, sulk, act in anger and continue to believe only they have the moral high ground. If only they had sat down and talked.
Let children learn how to deal with challenges, or life will be tough
Children cannot develop this vital life skill if they aren’t given the opportunity to deal with challenging circumstances. They need to learn to listen and understand that the opinions of others have value, and may also be right. When subjected to hurtful behaviour, children (and adults) should have the opportunity to address it in a rational way. That can’t happen if someone else has waded in and stopped the disagreement. Negotiation, debate and resolution allow the processes of understanding and healing.
Doesn’t affect you?
As onlookers we can all do something, if conflict involves family members or friends, we can enable them to appreciate there is another way of looking at every situation. Staying silently out of the firing line is an easy option, but it doesn’t resolve anything.
With politicians and their inflammatory, dangerous actions, we can protest, object, lobby for change, or preferrably, not vote for these people in the first place. The world would be a far better place if it was run by people who have emotional maturity and the courage to sit down and resolve the conflict.
I would like to thank my children for inspiring the post. They grew up to be fine young adults who go through life able to get along with others around them, both making the world a better place.