Can You Create a Fighter?

16 Jun

I have a dear friend here in Hawaii who, by nature, is calm, rational, and easygoing. Naturally, she doesn’t love conflict, but guess who does? Her mom.

In fact, her mom likes conflict so much that she’s determined to instill a “fighting spirit” in my dear friend, her daughter. Turns out, mom reports that she instigates fights with her daughter in order to teach her how to stand-up for herself and fight. No matter what the subject, mom will pick a fight about anything and everything, just to have someone with whom to fight.

Turns out, this isn’t a new method of parenting at all. Another dear friend says her dad did this when SHE was young. She reports that he would constantly instigate fights to make her “tough” and “less docile.”fighting

What’s unfortunate is that, despite the intentions, it seems this method of parenting has had the opposite effect. Both friends are so tired of fighting that they intentionally bow-out of anything that looks like a potential fight.

As for the parents? Well, old habits die hard, and they’re still trying to “toughen up” their adult children. Me? I seem to think they just like to fight.

The whole conversation made me wonder how much power we actually have over others’ conflict styles. Let’s face it: neither of my friends was going to be a real fighter, no matter how many fights in which they had to participate.

In the midst of consistently trying to make my children stop fighting with me, watching my friends’ parents instigate conflict seems strange and unnatural. And, frankly, it doesn’t work.

So, here’s to appreciating our childrens’ conflict temperments… and meeting them where they are.


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