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4 top stressors
A parents’ guide to restoring peace with your kids

Students attending Central Michigan University are given a Code of Student Rights and Responsibilities. One of these responsibilities involves learning in a peaceful context: “A student shall not act as a disorderly person ... or disturb the peace, as defined by state statute or local ordinance.” This implies that peace in one place may be disruption in another. Peacemaking goes beyond a tranquil mood; peacemaking involves a decision based on community and relationships. The beatitude says, “Blessed are the peacemakers,” because peace requires action; peace is “made.” Parents know the challenges of maintaining peace within a family.
4 top issues that disturb the peace and what might restore a healthier balance?

1   Social pressure: Parents know that raising a child takes place on “center stage” and many people will review the “performance”: “Don’t you think he is too old for a pacifier?” “She’s so tall. You should get her to play high school basketball.” Casual comments may lead us to question our parenting decisions, and perhaps feel guilty or embarrassed.
     Try to think of these comments as a perspective that may or may not offer wisdom in regard to your family’s circumstance.
  Renegotiating relationships: Just when child-rearing is steady and smooth, the child gets older! There aren’t rigid rules for peaceful parenting, since the relationship is dynamic. Nurturing a six-month-old is quite different than setting limits for an adventurous toddler. An eight-year-old needs help interpreting newly-encountered social situations, whereas a teen needs parental guidance in making competent decisions as an emerging adult.
         Social support from other parents helps reduce the tension and provides an excellent resource for strategies.
3   Conflict. According to Dr. Thomas Gordon, we should try to figure out which person “owns” the problem. For example, a parent might feel that he is lacking the respect that should be expected from a child. Or a child may feel that parental restrictions are holding her back from desired activities.
      Once the nature of the conflict has been identified, Dr. Gordon suggests brainstorming different alternatives so that parents and child can implement a solution. Planning a follow-up time to see how things are working out helps maintain peaceful communication.
4   Mood and Circumstance. When we are hungry or tired, often we don’t respond to our children in the way that we might wish. If a colicky baby has kept you up all night, then reduce your expectations for what might be accomplished the following day. When teens greet you at the door with problems, let them know that you will talk to them after you get a bite to eat. Follow Jesus’ example and seek a solitary place to pray.
     To be a peacemaker, make sure that your own basic needs are met.
     The psalmist implores us to “seek peace and pursue it.” (Ps 34:14) In doing so, we will be leading our families on God’s path of life.

by Dr. Cathleen McGreal

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