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How to Get Back on Track After Conflict


mom and teen daughter talking


Parenting, like any relationship, can be challenging. No one is perfect. Rather than feeling guilty about past mistakes, begin from where you are now - build a respectful, honest, and open relationship going forward. There are no magic formulas, but these tips can help.

Conflicts can happen between parents and children, it’s normal and expected. Resorting the relationship after a conflict helps build a stronger relationship going forward.

1. Model healthy behaviour

Why it matters: Attitudes and actions are both taught and caught. Children learn by observing the behaviour of others and imitating those around them. Modelling responsible use of alcohol is an important way to influence your child’s own use. Drinking too much, too often or in risky ways can send the message that these behaviours are normal and acceptable. Your child will be more likely to experiment with such behaviours and adopt similar patterns as they grow up.  

Restoring the relationship: Practise healthy self-reflection in order to explore the discrepancies between what you say you want for your family versus what you’re actually doing. This is a critical step in beginning to change your own behaviour. The aim is to identify possible reasons to change. When you know and are convinced of the reasons to change, you can usually find a way.

2. Nurture open communication

Why it matters: Open communication in which children feel accepted and valued is imperative. The goal is a two-way exchange where your child can share their thoughts and feelings and come to understand yours. Lecturing or ridiculing ideas you don’t like may make your child reluctant to share their thoughts and feelings with you.

Restoring the relationship: Apologize when you catch yourself lecturing or making a critical comment. Saying you slipped up shows that you respect your child and helps build the collaborative nature of the relationship. An apology might go something like this: “I’m sorry I jumped on you. That wasn’t fair.” Then, give them the chance to express how they feel.

3. Encourage active collaboration

Why it matters: Nurturing active collaboration is a way to work with your child to help them build the ability to think through issues and find solutions on their own. Children need support as they struggle with issues such as alcohol and other drug use. By imposing your solutions or perspective, you may undermine the self-efficacy and resilience that comes through working out their own positions.

Restoring the relationship: Set aside your need to be the expert in resolving issues. This helps build a two-way style of interaction and nurtures their sense of self worth. By carefully listening to what your child is saying and working with their strengths, you can find ways to help them find solutions. By taking this approach, you’re helping them grow their capacity to make good decisions and address challenges in the future.

Resources & Links:

Healthlink BC: Helping Your Child Build Inner Strength
Here to Help: The Road Ahead: A Guidebook for Parents of Young Teens about Alcohol and Other Drugs

Last Updated: March 31, 2015