How often do you have to intervene in the arguments between your offspring?
I have done a lot of that over the years.
My children are getting older. I have loved watching them grow, watching them flourish, watching them gain intelligence, confidence and independence. I even love that as they have grown, so have their vocabularies. What I don't love is that along with those vocabularies comes the need for me to mediate the flow of the exchanges between them.
We have a good sized house. There is lots of room for everyone. Everyone even has their own room and own sinks in the bathroom. Our kitchen is large enough to prepare food for a small army, our family room couch can seat 8 comfortably (there are only 5 in our family), and we have enough seating capability to have 20 people sit down to a meal in our home.
With all this room, why do my kids always seem to be in the same place at the same time? And why, when they end up in the same place at the same time, do they end up in an argument?
I know that this is part of the growing process. I went through the same thing with my sisters. I know it is way to learn conflict resolution, persuasive communication, and important relationship skills. But still, as the parent, it is daunting.
When they were little, I was much more involved in helping them work through their disagreements (or in just flat out resolving them) than I do now. When they were small, they relied on my mediation and communication to learn how to interact with with one another as well as with others. As they got a bit older, they were able to navigate the arguments and conflicts a little more independently. They still relied on mom the be the ultimate judge - let's face it, our perception of fair is a little more spot on than an 8 year old's. But now that they are in their adolescence, my role really has become much more that of a true mediator. I step in when conflict can't be resolved between them. I step in when I can clearly see that one is getting the raw end of the deal. I step in when one is clearly asserting power over the other. I do my best to help them step back and see each others view point and come to a fair agreement. For the most part, they settle their own disputes. They usually come to a somewhat agreeable resolution, and rarely to I have to be the "judge" anymore.
It is a difficult thing to watch them hone their interpersonal skills. Words fly, feelings are hurt, and lessons are learned - for them as well as for me. But, there is also a great reward as they learn to solve conflicts, become independent, and stand up for themselves in a fair and empathetic way.
Watch out, here comes mediator mommy!