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Successful intervention for fathers caught in the middle of conflict

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HOUSTON (FOX 26) -

Dads often times don't get the respect they deserve, and this can be seen most clearly during mother/daughter arguments. If dad is there to witness the verbal battle, he is often ignored or the battle moves on to other rooms in the house to avoid his input.

Tensions run high between moms and their daughters because both are equipped with remarkable verbal skills and prefer verbalizing feelings rather than withdrawing. Because they are both women their tactics in conflict are similar, and mom argues from a point of authority and daughters usually argue back from a point of defense. The end of the battle usually leaves both exhausted and hurt. Many times the fall out lands on dad, and he does his best to patch up whatever results he can.

Dads don't get the respect they deserve, because they don't understand that their intervention may minimize the length of the conflict as well as the intensity. He doesn't have to be louder than the two in combat, but he does have to be a strong, steady voice of reason. This requires not only respect for his wife as the mother of their daughter, but also respect for his daughter who is growing and changing to become her own individual self. Dads who have an open ear in the beginning and are listening to what is being said will have a better chance of actually knowing when and where to intervene. Telling them to "knock it off" or yelling at their wife to stop won't work, because this causes marital problems and creates a needless tension in the family.

When you intervene it is important that your goal is to help both mom and daughter end up feeling heard, understood and supported. Below are suggestions for all of you dads caught in the middle of conflict.

1. When conflict begins brewing allow time for your wife and daughter to deal with it. Conflict is necessary for healthy relationships and supporting both after with something such as, it's okay to agree to disagree helps both feel better.

2. As much as possible, tell them both what you admire when they resolve their conflicts amicably.

3. If the conflict becomes loud and begins feeling out of control, stand by your wife and firmly say, "You both have good points, but this argument is not about those points anymore." "You and your mom can discuss this later."

4. Talk to your wife in private about how emotional your daughter is right now, and suggest that emailing one another or writing a letter may be a more effective way to get your point across.

5. Dads who engage with their daughters one on one raise daughters who seek male attention less. They don't need it, because they have a good dad. Go to your daughter and talk to her one on one about what she feels happened in the argument with her mom. Remind her that when she argues it's important to tell her mom how she feels. When she says a comment such as, "You are ruining my social life," this is not as effective and escalates the argument more than, "When you don't allow me to go out with my friends, I feel lonely and sad."

Dads today were mentored by dads of yesterday. Dads of yesterday were the providers, and many times uninvolved with interactions within the family. Dads who are engaged with their wives and children raise healthier children, and experience happier marriages. Conflict is necessary for healthy children to feel secure and confident as they grow. Healthy conflict involves stating the problem, brainstorming solutions, and a win/win resolution for both. Many healthy conflicts in the teen years don't end with a win/win, but with parents stating a boundary and kids following the rules or being disciplined with the consequences from breaking the rules. This is to be expected, and actually is a healthy sign that parents are raising a child who is fighting for their independence, but learning respect for authority and the consequences of disrespect.

– Mary Jo Rapini

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