Fort Worth, Texas,
16
June
2014
|
08:10 PM
America/Chicago

After Father’s Day

Healthy resolution of conflict

I hope everyone had a great Father’s Day. I'm sure there were no fights between fathers and their teenage children.

Maybe, you had barbecue and ugly ties mixed with good feelings and love all around. But now back to reality.

Because of that, you can consider this a post for all the other weeks of the year when there might be more "disagreements" between fathers and teenagers. Most of you might be able to file this away under the Common Sense tab of your brain but I think it is a good reminder.

What is the best way for a teenager to resolve a fight with his/her dad?

Find someone else to support them through dealing with the conflict in a healthy way.

Jeff Cookston from San Francisco State University studied almost 400 families asking them questions about how they handled father-child conflict. He released a study in the March edition of the Journal of Research on Adolescence.  

The most common people that teenagers talked to were mothers, then friends and occasionally a stepfather or father (if conflict is with stepdad).

The study compared two positive ways the support person could discuss the problem with the teenager: giving an explanation for dad's behavior and assigning responsibility for the conflict.

So, to make the adolescent happy, just take his or her side and assign all the blame to the father, right? Actually, you may be surprised to learn that’s not true.

In fact, a real discussion about the reasons for dad's opinion and a fair assessment of the responsibility of the conflict left children feeling better about themselves and their fathers in the long run.

So, how does this play out in a real life situation?

Conflict #1:

"But, dad, I really want to go to this party and it won't even get started going strong until 11!"

"Sorry, it's just not going to happen this week."

Bad support:

"That's just how your dad is, he's always been overprotective."

Good support:

"I'm sure your dad is just concerned about you being safe and remember what happened the last time you went to a party and came home hours after your curfew."

Conflict #2:

“But, dad you can’t take away my Xbox!”

Bad support: 

“He’s just being dumb.  You can always play after he goes to bed.  I’ll try to convince him to give it back.”

Good support:

“I think he’s concerned because we’ve noticed that your grades have been dropping and you are having a hard time getting out of bed in the morning.  Maybe if you show him that you can show more responsibility, we can talk about getting it back.”

Give the father in your life the best gift you can give them this year, support your teenager in a way that helps them feel better about themselves and their Dad. (The ugly ties can wait until next year.)

About the author

Justin Smith, M.D., is a Cook Children's pediatrician in Lewisville . He has a particular interest in development, behavior and care for children struggling with obesity. In his spare time, he enjoys playing with his three young children, exercising, reading and writing about parenting and pediatric health issues.He attended University of Texas, Southwestern Medical School and did his pediatric training at Baylor College of Medicine. He joins Cook Children's after practicing in his hometown of Abilene for four years. He has a particular interest in development, behavior and care for children struggling with obesity. In his spare time, he enjoys playing with his 3 young children, exercising, reading and writing about parenting and pediatric health issues.

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