The family life is one of the places par excellence where there are tensions… and this is quite normal. After all, everyone must share the same space, with the values, responsibilities and different needs that often clash. While the sources of stress are even more numerous in this period of a pandemic, the family is side by side all day because of the containment, and this, for a considerable period of time. In such a context, how to avoid that a disagreement that is not resolved does not degenerate into conflict ?
The perfect storm for the family tensions
Whether they arise from health problems, financial stress, or the impacts of the confinement, the stress sources are currently much more important than in normal times for the vast majority of Quebecers.
Our coping skills and our patience is then put to a severe test : under stress, we experience more difficulty to listen to, it is sometimes more difficult to communicate, we become more rigid… and fight more easily.
The fact that a young person does not count his room despite repeated requests from the parent, combined with the fact of not being able to discuss this without ” skipping a tick “, so that it could turn a simple dispute into real conflict !
In such circumstances, however, it is possible to put in place some strategies that will promote the exchange and listening.
First of all, it is important to wait until the dust has settled and everyone has calmed down again, and this, before even beginning this discussion. Then, it is important to recognize the stress that each person can live currently, and that the source of this stress can be different for each.
Throughout this discussion, the listening will be paramount, especially as there is a high level of stress undermines our ability to listen.
Real Solutions… and sustainable
Once these conditions are met, each can approach the subject of contention within this dispute, and without return in the past.
This approach should be conducted in a climate of trust, where everyone wants the good of the other. It is desirable that everyone can explain the problem which it is facing, without paying of intention, nor even to shift the blame to the other, without which the other risk to guard rather than to listen. It is also very useful to reformulate the requests of each one, to ensure that everyone understands the point of view of the other. Once the problem is well-defined, it then becomes possible to determine what it means, what it does not intend to, and seek to find, together, solutions.
During this exchange, it is necessary to be open, accept all of the ideas, and also suggest new ones. It is then necessary to try to find a true compromise that will satisfy – really – the two parties. Once the solution is identified, it is put in place, we will assess the situation, and one makes the necessary corrections. As solutions that help to de-escalate a conflict are neither magical nor permanent, it will also be important to reassess these in the face of new realities, for example, when the guidelines relating to the confinement change.
Learning for life
The family life, and even more so in the context of containment, force the collaboration of all. When everyone cooperates, the newspaper becomes so much more enjoyable for everyone, the parents, but also children and adolescents.
Although they are never pleasant, we must not forget that the tensions are also opportunities to develop our communication skills, and empathy. The family then becomes a space where each can discover its strengths and weaknesses.
Among the things learned during this period unusual punishment – which, although difficult, is temporary, our ability to understand the other, to solve conflicts and to adapt will be great and will serve us throughout our lives.