With Thanksgiving coming up quickly and Christmas break just around the corner, many students are excited to return home to spend time with their families. However, after about a day of the post-return home honeymoon phase of familial bliss, the student previously accustomed to being independent is now expected to live under old house rules. Students all know this feeling: eventually, everyone begins to have some serious conflict issues.
Instead of hearkening back to the old teenager days and storming out the door, take a deep breath and consider some other, more mature methods of conflict management. Here are a few tips and tricks to help keep pressures down and raise the enjoyment of the holidays.
According to Clemson University, the first step in conflict resolution is to identify the problem. Is the problem really that your parents are crazy and will not let you stay out past midnight, or is the problem that you feel stifled and like you are being spoken down to? It is important to think critically and come to the root of the problem before you can address it calmly and maturely.
Next, according to Australia’s Better Health channel, it’s important to remember that the idea is to resolve the conflict, not win the argument. No one actually wins an argument, they just end up damaging their relationship with whom they are arguing with. So focus on the task at hand. Instead of attacking your family on a personal level, keep the discussion around the conflict.
Respect the other person’s point of view and listen respectfully. My dad is infamous for interrupting and I, being his offspring, have the same tendencies. But remember that listening is key to understanding the root of the conflict. If you sit there thinking about what you are going to say next, that is not proper critical listening. Hear what they have to say and process it before you open your mouth to say something else.
After both sides have spoken, come up with a solution to the conflict together. In the caper of the cut-off curfew, perhaps propose that instead of midnight, you could return at 1 a.m. After handling yourself so maturely in this debate, they may be more likely to consider you as a responsible adult rather than a screaming kid.
Lucy Ridge, a senior interdisciplinary studies major, has a large family of twelve children of all ages, which makes the holidays quite interesting for her family.
“Some days it’s great,” she said. “But a lot of days we do get into screaming matches. It’s gotten better now that the majority of us are older and know how to talk things out.”
Remember, some issues cannot be solved on your own. If your family needs to seek professional counseling or have a special circumstance like “coming out” as LGBTQ, go speak to the Counseling Center here at Southern Miss for additional advice on dealing with difficult families. Seeking help does not make a person weak; it makes them stronger.
With these conflict resolution tips under your belt, have a lovely holiday season.