Multigenerational Conflict Resolution

When multigenerational caregiving plays a role in a family, conflicts may come up more often, and with more grandparents than ever caring for grandchildren, resolving differences may be a challenge.

Modeling appropriate behavior when resolving conflicts is an important part of giving children the best start. Here are tips for cultivating constructive conflict resolution between generations:

  • Understand that they are not you — and that’s okay. Accepting that you are two separate people with different life experiences and points of view can help set the stage for listening. Working to see a situation from another standpoint can be the start of constructive conflict resolution.
  • Separate the problem from the person to find a solution.Do you turn into a child or authoritarian during conflicts with family? Family dynamics run deep, and history can play out again and again. If you can view the conflict as a problem to be solved cooperatively and creatively, rather than repeating old patterns of behavior, it can help you find solutions.
  • Listen and reflect first, then make your point. Feeling heard helps people feel safe. Listening and repeating back what another person has said lets them know that you are working to understand them. Clarifying and validating their point of view — remember, you don’t have to agree, only acknowledge — can help make resolving an issue easier.
  • Speak from your own perspective. Nothing shuts down communication faster than when people feel attacked. Use “I” statements about how you think and feel about an issue, rather than telling the other person what they are doing wrong.
  • Remember — you can always be right or you can have a relationship. If you stay stuck in right/wrong thinking, it is difficult to move through conflict. Imagining yourselves as partners working side-by-side can help break the cycle of opposition.


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