How do You Resolve Conflict?

February 18, 2021

I don’t know if it was a generational thing or if it was just my family; but we, as children, were not taught conflict resolution.

When my siblings and I had a conflict, our parents told us to “work it out.” But they didn’t teach us exactly how to do that. I don’t blame them. Parenting was very different in the ’50s, and parenting techniques were not taught then like they are now.

Owen and Ella (our 7- and 5-year-old grandchildren) just spent 4 days with us. One day we were driving home after having lunch out, and Ella asked me if I wanted to hear how they came to own their dog, Fozzy. The conversation went like this:

Ella: Grandma, do you want me to tell you the story of how Fozzy got to be our dog?
Me: Sure
Ella: Well…. one day…. a very loooonnng time ago, Fozzy came to our door and….
Owen interrupting Ella: No, Ella, that’s not how it goes. His name….
Ella interrupting Owen: Owen. I’m talking first!
Owen: But that’s not right.
Ella: Well, I’ll tell the story and then you can tell the story.
Owen: But she’ll already know the story then.
…. then they lowered their voices to continue their negotiations, and I couldn’t hear them, but after a minute or so, Ella said: Grandma, I’m going to tell the story, and then Owen will tell the story, so it will be fair.

So Ella told the story, and then Owen told the story; and they were both happy.

I was so impressed with how they resolved their conflict – by listening to each other, by expressing their point of view, by coming up with a solution, and by doing this all with calm voices.

They’re 7 and 5! I don’t think I learned how to do that until I was well into my 30’s. And to be honest, I probably still struggle with it at times.

I attribute Owen and Ella’s conflict resolution ability to the parenting skills of our son and daughter-in-law. I’m so thankful they are teaching such important life skills to their kids. And teaching them now, rather than later.

Thinking back to my own parents…. they did the best they could with what they knew and what had been modeled for them when they were children. I believe every generation just gets better. I had more parenting skills than my parents did, and our son and daughter both have more parenting skills than I ever had. I can only imagine what kind of parents Owen and Ella will be!

Ella & Fozzy

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6 Comments

  1. Lenore Gilshenan

    That is amazing that a 7 year old and a 5 year old were able to resolve their conflict so effectively. But what happened after the two
    different ? stories were finished. Did the two kids just nod at each other and move on, or did they discuss the differences in their stories?

    • Karen Schulz

      Hi Lenore, Yes, they just went on to something else. Owen gave more details than Ella did, like: “We had to ask Daddy and Daddy was concerned because we already had so many pets.” (2 dogs and 3 cats). Ella just nodded, as if to say, “Yeah, that’s right.” 🙂 It was adorable.

  2. Lynda Bertrand

    That is great how it worked for you in your days but it didn’t work for me. I’m youngest “with no place on this earth”, but amazingly I am 32 years happily married to the cutesiest, sweetest guy ever. I have never looked back from my wedding day when I said “God let me love him more each
    bit everyday, with your help I BELIEVE…” then I went on wedding… and the rest history. My sister is none existent to me because causing me to much pain from childhood all the way too teenager… The break is GOOD.

    • Karen Schulz

      Hi Lynda, I’m sorry to hear your childhood caused you so much pain. I do believe we need to remove caustic people from our lives, and I’m glad you had the courage to do that. I’m so glad you are a happy person with a good life. God is good.

    • Anonymous

      Hey, little sister. I agree with you but occasionally we displayed awesome negotiation skills. Once when you were around 3 and I was, what about 7, our parents said they would take us to a small permanent carnival in Hawthorne or to a drive-in movie. We got to decide and you wanted the movie and I wanted the carnival. We went into another room behind the huge red nagahyde footstool – remember that?- to discuss. I persuaded you to choose the carnival with the reasoning that they would take us to the movies more frequently and so we had a better chance of getting to do both sooner rather than later. You agreed and we went to the carnival, then got to go to a movie a few weeks later. Mom and dad heard us of course and thought it was cute. Do you remember any of that?

      • Karen Schulz

        Hi Big Sister, That’s pretty amazing. I don’t remember it. But then I was 3 and you were 7. I definitely remember the red naugahyde footstool. I remember turning it on its side, and then running and jumping on it, rolling over the top, and landing on the other side. It’s a wonder we didn’t break any bones doing that, but it is a memory that always makes me smile.

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