Family Focus of New Zealand conducted a survey of 5,000 adults. When asked what they wished they had done differently to resolve conflict with their parents, they provided the three responses most often:
- They wished they had spoken to their parents more often
- They wished their parents had listened more
- They wished they had discussed their feelings more openly
Resolving family conflict depends upon communication. Active listening means actually listening; not looking for an opportunity to interject. Adolescents and parents are often at odds. Young people chaff at house rules they feel limit their freedom. Parents require the patience of Job to weather the ever-changing moods of their teens. When matters reach an impasse, negotiation may work.
Negotiation requires compromise. Parents may view compromise as an erosion of their authority—it is not. An adolescent who asks to be treated more like an adult soon realizes the wisdom of the adage, “Be careful what you wish for.” Parents who can sit down and calmly negotiate issues with their teenage son will find once a young person understands what responsibility entails, he will be less likely to demand it in the future. Conversely, a young man who embraces responsibility benefits from the experience. Negotiation can be a win-win.
- Create a list of ideas which will move both parties toward a goal
- Decide what each person must do to accomplish the goal
- Explore the possible outcomes of each idea—favorably and unfavorably
- Consider what each person must sacrifice in order for the goal to be attained
The WRA solution
White River Academy is a residential treatment center located near the Great Basin in Utah. We provide a challenging academic curriculum, daily therapy, individual and group counseling and a variety of outdoor activities. WRA educates and counsels boys age 12 to 17 with substance abuse issues, mental health and behavioral health problems. We provide our students with the knowledge, skills and attitude to be successful in the world. For more information about our program, our school and our philosophy, please call 866-520-0905.