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The Positive Side of Conflict

Most people avoid conflict like the plague. While conflict is painful in the moment, when done right, conflict can lead to a better future. In this article, I’ll teach moms and dads how conflict can be a means to create deeper relationships.

Using Conflict to Create Deeper Relationships

Timing is important. Don’t shy away from conflict until it reaches a boiling point or let your frustrations leak out slowly over time, eroding your relationship. It’s not okay to bottle up and postpone dealing with conflict, and it’s not helpful to constantly nag at things that are wrong. You must overcome your fear of conflict and face problems intentionally, at the right time.

Avoiding issues now simply causes them to come back later when they’re bigger and harder to handle. Embracing conflict and working through problems together ushers in a world of change that has the possibility of keeping your child from having to walk a path he really doesn’t want. So change the way you look at conflict. See it as an opportunity to help your teen assimilate what he knows and apply it to his situation.

Schedule a Time to Work Through Conflict

Try the “confrontation over coffee” method. Find a time to sit down with your teen and tell them that this is the place and time to resolve any issues. Meet consistently once a week, or every other week. That way you don’t make problems the only time to get together with your teen. As you establish a routine and create a relationship, you earn the opportunity to confront problems. These regular meetings also act as a release valve to prevent pressure from building up in your relationship.

There Is a High Cost to Unresolved Conflict

If you avoid conflict with your teen, nothing will change, and it will likely get worse over time. Your teen’s problems won’t magically go away when he leaves home. You’ll face unresolved conflict again when your teen goes to college, or else your kid will face these problems in a future relationship. And just think about the precious time with your teen that is wasted putting off a conversation instead of building a stronger relationship. That’s a high price.

Choose to Look at Conflict Differently

Conflict can be a valuable opportunity to help your teen learn critical life skills. It may even save his future relationships. So enter into conflict by understanding that it is a precursor to positive change. Look ahead on what will come out of it, not back on what has happened. And remember to keep your own example in mind. Your teens are watching you. Your role is to help your teen, not prove you are right and he is wrong. You conversation should not be about your speculation, feelings, or what others might think about your teen’s behavior. Communicate without yelling, berating, or expressing disgust at your teen’s behavior. Instead, talk to your teen with love, truth, and grace––working together towards a resolution. God’s advice for conflict is this: be slow to speak, slow to anger and quick to listen.

Ultimately, addressing your teens’ problems won’t create a perfect kid. You should expect some disappointments as you face the imperfections in your family. But you can use these conflicts to help your teen get to a better place and deepen your relationship.

Encouragement for Parents:

As you put this advice into practice, the process of dealing with conflict will get easier over time because you will start to see the bigger picture. That doesn’t mean that it will get more comfortable. But don’t let your discomfort keep you from doing what is right. I haven’t met a teen yet that doesn’t want to change! So stand firm and don’t run from conflict. Your willingness to enter conflict with your child sends a clear message that you are willing to risk the relationship, for their benefit. It communicates a message every teen wants to hear––“I love you in the good times and in the bad times.”


Hey moms and dads … unresolved conflict only raises its ugly head at a later time in your teen’s life, when the consequences will be greater and it will affect more people. Your willingness to enter conflict with your teen sends a clear message that you are willing to risk the relationship for their benefit. And it communicates that you love them even when conflict is present in your home. Your willingness to talk about disagreements let’s them know that conflict is a part of life. The quicker they learn to work through their issues for the sake of relationship with someone, the happier they will be.

Author: Mark Gregston

Mark Gregston began working with teens more than 40 years ago as a youth minister and Young Life director. He has authored nearly two dozen books, has written hundreds of articles, and is host of the nationally-acclaimed Parenting Today’s Teens podcast and radio broadcast.