A couple weeks ago our 12 year old Storyteller and 10 year old Lollie were struggling to get along. The tension and the expressions of that tension were making things… tense… in our home. After repeated journeys through the Peace Path and other attempts to help them resolve the conflict between them it reached a head in the van on the way to the library. Consumed with ways to hurt and annoy each other, we hadn’t even made it 5 minutes before their conflict led to tears from a younger sister not involved in their issues. In an effort to protect those not involved, I turned the van around and took them home where Jeremy was working and Sugarbaby was napping. It meant that they wouldn’t get to go to the library that week but I felt I needed to provide some space for those of us that were not contributing to the tension to have a positive experience that afternoon in the library and an hour break from the tension of those two. Upset with me, they stormed into the house.
At least they found something they could both agree on.
I gave them an option, figure out how to set their conflicts aside for family activities or to safeguard the rest of the family they would have to bow out of family activities for the time being. Brainstorming a way they could show they wanted to work past their differences to be in community with their family, we came up with a joint writing project: a fable illustrating how fighting in unhealthy ways with those in your community can be damaging. I came home from the library (with books I selected for them) to the following poem and two girls excited to show me not only their cooperative effort but also ready to discuss what they felt they had learned through the experience.
Two wolf sisters
In their own little pack
One blind, one deaf
From a bear attack
The two wolf sisters got in a fight
They left each other
And slept on their own that night.
The two wolf sisters alone that day
Could not hunt in their regular way
The two wolf sister made up with love
And set out to hunt a weakened dove.
Moral: We can be stronger with our differences than when we are apart.
We don’t view fighting and conflict as a bad thing, in fact, learning how to work through conflict is a skill that will serve our children for the rest of their life. There will be times when they need to stand up for themselves or for others and having experience in fighting well will help them confidently pursue justice. It is our aim to help our children work through their differences, to know when to fight, to know how to fight well, and to be able to resolve conflict to have peace. Acknowledging the struggle for what it is, neither good nor bad, and aiming to improve the interactions and how we respond to the struggle can help us all grow and appreciate even more the gifts we have in the relationships with the people around us. Because struggling with those we love is better than being alone.
Our girls will continue to have moments of conflict, that’s the deal with relationships. Specially ones that we are experiencing so close day in and day out. What really matters is not removing all conflict but developing healthy patterns in dealing with that reality. Putting into practice is just part of the journey.