Fighting the 'good' fight: Families find constructive ways to handle discord

Published: Tuesday, May 14 2013 4:10 p.m. MDT

"Don't allow your child to be disrespectful or disobedient, but giving them an opportunity to express how they feel does no harm," Moore said. "It's your right and duty as a parent to rear them the way you see is best ... Listening softens disagreement and helps them trust your judgment and wisdom."

When siblings fight, watch from a distance. It's one way kids learn coping mechanisms, communication skills and how to adjust in society. If it doesn't escalate to violence or hurtful actions, stand clear, he said. Don't choose sides or play favorites.

Gerette Braunsdorf's girls are 8 and almost 6. "They play lovingly together, then one hauls off and hits the other," said the Cleveland mom. "We have a lot of pitched drama."

She's learned the best approach may be to act like they're behaving normally. "I'm having the worst day of my life," Maddie, 8, might say. "Oh, that's unfortunate," her mom replies.

Ellie and Maddie are different, and so is what works.

Braunsdorf said her husband of 20 years, Chris, is neater than she is, a bone of contention. They usually don't argue in front of the kids and they argue more constructively than they used to be. Since she realized he couldn’t sleep until things are resolved, she no longer gets annoyed and goes to bed. They talk things out. She "owns" her part of conflict. "Sorry about this. It's something I'm trying to work on. Do you have ideas for what might help me?"

They spend a lot of time together. "We joke that we want to divorce the kids, but not each other,” she said.

Stewart said to recognize the other person is probably doing the best he knows how. "They are probably lost in their stuff just like you're lost in your stuff."

EMAIL: lois@desnews.com, Twitter: Loisco

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