Today is SuperBowl Sunday. Many families will sit around the television cheering on the team they hope will win. In this game, there will be a designated winner and a designated loser.
How does winning and losing work in families? Think about an argument a parent might have with a teenager. Can an adult effectively argue with a teen? Think about it - the teen has the idea that his parent could not possibly be right. I mean, who can argue with that? So what defines winning and losing in this situation?
Winning happens for all involved when a conflict is effectively mediated by a parent who gets the teen to think and reason through the problem. Maybe the teen sees himself as "winning" if the parent concedes that a point the teen makes is accurate. But it is the relationship between the parent and teen that has truly won in that instance.
I am not suggesting that parents concede to teens in matters in which a firm stance is required - such as violating curfew, drinking alcohol, etc. But what about an argument which is simply a difference in viewpoint about politics or what is the best type of chicken dish to eat? I think agreeing to disagree in these situations can be very helpful for all involved.
So back to the notion of winning and losing - in a family system everybody wins when active discussion and conflict resolution can occur.
Debra Atkisson Kowalski, M.D.