As the homeschool year ends, we mothers often start losing much of the energy and creativity we had back at the beginning of the year. Sure, there have been some victories, but sometimes the same-old struggles can wear us down. We can be left wondering, once again, how to handle conflict in your homeschool.
I hate conflict. My name means “peace,” so, with any conflict that has come my way, I have one prayer and aim – peace, and relational connection. However, I’m working on a theory.
Sometimes conflict isn’t all bad. In fact, if walked out well, how we handle conflict with our children may end up being some of the shining moments of our journey in motherhood. I’ve done it all wrong plenty of times, but I desire for God to do a work in my family and me, so I’m taking notes, and trying to learn.
HOW TO HANDLE CONFLICT IN YOUR HOMESCHOOL
The Upside of Conflict
You see, we’ve got these living, changing, imperfect (sometimes downright sinful!) little folk who live with us. They are exceptionally short on life experience and need a whole lot of sanctification.
Often, they feel a need to argue about every rule, schedule change, or parental decision. Again – they are exceptionally short on life experience.
As they age in our homes, they’re still trying to figure out where they, personally, land on what they believe. Perhaps they’ve gone on a good while following your parental leadership, but then get hiccuped by something they don’t like, or don’t understand. So… bam. They give you grief, and there you have it: conflict.
But let me ask you. In your life, did you ever have to wrestle through an idea, belief, concept? Sure, we all have, right?
Now I’m going to put this out there. This conflict I’m referring to isn’t your typical two-year-old revolt against authority. My belief is that young children just need to be firmly and kindly introduced to the concept that mommy and daddy are the authority in the home, and the little young one is…not.
My experience has been that this produces a child who feels secure and happily finds his place in the family dynamic. But as our youngsters grow, and we’re seeking to instill in them truth outlined in Scripture, our children will typically reach a point with which they struggle or test the boundaries. Often these struggles are not conducted in a very mature way.
This is where conflict brings an excellent opportunity to lead our children in truth.
Redemptive conclusion to any conflict with your child doesn’t usually “just happen”. It requires intentionality on your part. That’s why I think it is essential that mothers be good leaders.
Guidelines for How to Handle Conflict Management in Your Homeschool
Let’s look at some ways to be intentional about conflict:
1. Realize children are going to test boundaries in order to test YOU and push YOUR buttons.
Many times those young people are TRYING to get a rise out of you. Don’t give it to them.
2. Rejoice during conflict.
I know, sounds counterintuitive, right? But really, it is better to have the issue out in the open and on the table, than it is to have the conflict hidden, simmering in your child’s heart. Conflict (even anger and hostility) means that someone cares (sometimes very deeply) about the situation.
As difficult as this is, anger is a far better problem to have than apathy. When someone doesn’t care about the relationship, they shut down and retreat to a cold, and disinterested separation. This means you have lost influence, and there is often no returning from this latter stage of relational breakdown.
This verse comes to mind: “Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a sprit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.” Galatians 6:1.
Conflict gives us the opportunity to restore our children to right living and relationship.
I love the passage in Isaiah 40:11 that ends with the words “He [the Good Shepherd] will carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those that are with young.”
You are not alone on this mothering journey. God, Himself will gently lead you and you need only to ask.
Whenever conflict happens, it brings the potential for greater surrender to the Lord. Pray that you will have the wisdom to draw your young person to God.
4. Be Quick to Listen.
While many youthful conflicts will be a result of your child’s resistance to your authority, be humble enough to examine whether your leadership is just and approachable. Maybe there really are areas you could tweak and present in a better way.
Taking the time to hear your child out gives you as a parent the opportunity to clear up misunderstandings. “Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger.” James 1:19.
5. Bring in Scripture.
Conflict should never occur because mom is offended.
As Christian parents, household rules and boundaries should be solidly based on Scriptural principles. Speak frequently about why your family has established the boundaries and family rules in your home. Remind your children that the Word of God is the rule and standard for all of life and practice.
6. Reaffirm that you are FOR your child.
Communicate that you are FOR his or her growth and maturity. Speak gently and kindly to your child’s heart. Most conflicts going on with a young person are really about what’s going on inside of them; the struggle they are having in following your leadership and decisions, the struggles they are having in forming convictions, etc.
Praise God you are placed there at that moment to help your young person come to a right and godly perspective!
So, choose the high path and predetermine not to engage your young person in combative conflict. Instead, lovingly walk through the conflict with them, doing all you can to emerge on the same team.
7. Pray together, asking for a blessing to rest on your child.
Talk and work through this conflict until an agreement is reached, and the connection is re-established. If for some reason, time demands you must stop before the matter is resolved, kindly let your child know that you want to continue this conversation, it is important to you and set at least a general time to resume the discussion.
If your child doesn’t see things your way, and the conversation is beginning to sour, seek to end on as positive a note as possible and share that you plan to spend time working through resources (books, videos, etc) to bring some light to the conversation.
In some cases, you may need to bring in other mature brothers and sisters in Christ (God places us in The Body for a reason) who can help both you and your child, to learn better habits of respectful communication.
Remember, the goal of how to handle conflict in your homeschool should be to urge your child to embrace a Godly perspective and re-establish a heart-to-heart connection between the two of you.
Rather than running away from conflict, and trying to avoid it altogether, press into it and seek to establish healthy patterns of conflict resolution. Rather than quarreling, learn how to listen, and embrace respectful dialogue, even while standing your ground, and enforcing predetermined rules and standards for your family.
If you want your child to learn how to negotiate through heated emotions, you need to take the lead and demonstrate how to do that yourself. May our Lord grant you His wisdom and His peace.
Brook Wayne is an author and conference speaker and homeschooling mother of nine. She is a co-founder of Family Renewal, LLC and co-author of the book, Pitchin’ A Fit! Overcoming Angry & Stressed-Out Parenting.
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Don’t miss the rest of the posts in the series!