Parents everywhere are feeling stressed about children going back to school. And for some, it’s testing the strength of their relationship connection with each other.

She says, If it were up to him, our daughter would never learn any discipline. He doesn’t realize she needs to face reality and stop being so fearful of going back to school. Kids must learn to be tough!

He says, If it were up to her, it would be like military school 24/7. Kids need more than just discipline. They also need understanding!

Who’s right? Well, they both are. But in our extreme reactions, we lose sight of this. Negativity in our communication will always result in conflict, in a struggle to prove who’s right rather than seeing the value our partner contributes.

Using Safe Conversations skills can help us eliminate that negativity, validate each others’ concerns, and connect beyond our differences. And that’s when, as parents, we can function at our highest level – bringing the best of what we each have to offer to our parenting plan.

Do children need to learn to be tough? Absolutely! Part of our role as parents is to help prepare them for their own tough times ahead.

Do children need understanding? Absolutely! Understanding why they are anxious or afraid and validating their concerns is essential in empowering them to overcome obstacles and become strong to face the future.

Healthy mental and emotional growth happens best, not in some self-empowerment program, but in a relationship that is safe, open, and connected.

What might a safe conversation look like in this case? Here’s how it might go.

After mirroring her, he might validate her by saying something like this: “It makes sense from your perspective that our children should grow strong and learn to face and overcome their problems in life. You make a lot of sense.”

After feeling validated, she might mirror and validate him by saying something like this: “It makes sense that from your perspective our daughter’s self-empowerment will come through a relationship with us where she is understood, where her concerns are validated and not just challenged. I can see how that might help her move forward, face her fears, and go back to school.”

We all want our children to be self-empowered and the best way to do that is not on their own but through their relationship with us.

And the only way that can happen is for us as parents to first connect beyond our own differences. Then we can use those same safe conversation skills to connect in the same way with our children.

Here’s to empowering each other and our children into a wonderful future beginning this fall!

– Chuck Starnes
Safe Conversations Trainer