Conflict! Not just any old conflict. Conflict with our adolescents and, in particular, our girls. Whether you love it or you hate it conflict is set to play a part in our lives.
I attended a workshop a few years ago with my then 10 year old daughter called “Girl Power”. It is a program aimed at empowering girls with the skills, language, and self-confidence to be better friends, develop healthier friendships learn what's normal in a friendship, see the difference between healthy and unhealthy friends and how to stand up for themselves.
It essentially encourages them to evaluate their friendships, assess the toxicity of them, and decide whether to make the effort to continue it or discard it. If the effort is assessed to be worth it then they are shown how to confront the issue to build a stronger friendship.
Initially my thoughts went straight to “seriously – there are adults who can’t do this shit” and, it got me thinking about why this is even necessary – because believe me – it is! How are we – the mums and dads - dealing with conflict in our homes?
I know in “our day” (oh God – did I just say that) it was not the norm to talk in great detail about any sort of problem with anyone let alone provide a workshop ….. and there it was – the light bulb moment – if we didn’t talk about it how did we learn to deal with it and how do we (or don't we) show our kids?
I realise that not every family is in the same boat, but as I looked around at the other mums
in the workshop, I wondered if they were hearing this, as if for the first time as well, and I noticed something - Some were very uncomfortable – myself included! You might as well have replaced all those “tweens” with the current friendship group of the adults. There is nothing quite like sending your own kids to school to feel like you are transporting back in time to old school yard antics – particularly mums!
Conflict, depending on your own parents, is something that is created or avoided. Conflict Creators love a good argument! They will offer their opinion on just about everything to see the reaction they get. Conflict Avoiders will do just about anything to change the subject, the mood, the place etc. This “dance” is then played out in our own families – create or avoid! Generally, you will have opposites in spouses so the dance is exactly that – round and around in circles. This often leads us nowhere because the motive is to be “right” not “resolution”.
What I learnt about myself is that I am a Conflict Creator!! I love a good argument, offer my opinion on just about everything, have my say and then leave you standing there with your mouth wide open wondering what the hell happened! ……mmmm yes – very mature!
Conflict Avoiders don’t get off well either. It teaches our girls to give up, to not fight for what they want if it rocks the boat and also has the ability to leave you standing there with your mouth wide open wondering what the hell happened! Avoiding conflict creates conflict!!
No wonder our girls and boys are having a crisis of who they are, where they fit and, more importantly, how they look – they have had very good teachers – Us!
This is where Girl Power made a difference. It offered suggestions, role play scenarios, different options if you were not ready or confident enough to confront, yet still able to find a voice that was not mean, nasty or right!