This C word definitely should not have a negative connotation. What C word is this? Compromise!
When you mention the word ‘compromise’ to some people in relation to parenting they will tell you that it is something they have had to learn despite initially finding it difficult. Some will even go as far as saying that compromise is necessary in a family in order for peace to reign. What is your definition of compromise? How important do you think it is in relation to one’s parenting journey. Can one successfully parent without comprising?
Here are two definitions of the word compromise:
- a settlement of differences by mutual understanding; an agreement reached by adjustment of conflicting or opposing ideas, beliefs, etc.
- an agreement following a disagreement in which the parties decrease their requests or change their opinion or stance in order to reach an agreement.
In any type of relationship, you need compromise in order for it to succeed. Compromise is not only relevant to parenting. It is equally necessary in other situations such as work, relationship with friends and family.
For the purpose of this article, I will focus on compromise in relation to parenting – most importantly in raising children.
I have chosen a number of points associated with compromise which I believe will help to improve a parent-child relationship in the course of one’s parenting journey.
Battles and battlefields – Firstly, as a parent or carer, you must choose your battles wisely.
It is not all battles that are worth fighting. You need to be selective. Sometimes, you need to overlook certain things in order for peace to reign. You can neglect certain issues or behaviour temporarily, monitor it and if it persists you can then decide to take action. This may involve speaking to the child and explaining for instance that you have noticed some unacceptable behaviour which you have been monitoring and there has been no improvement. As a result, you believe it is time to address your concerns.
Choosing your battles wisely can also mean rather than taking immediate action on a matter, deciding on the best time and environment to tackle it.
Teach and model compromise – As a parent or carer, it is advisable to teach and model compromise to your children.
Inform your children from a young age that compromise is a necessity in life. It is not an easy task to teach and demonstrate to children particularly as they may not grasp the concept that other people’s opinions can differ from theirs.
Furthermore, they need to understand that they may not always get what they want despite having cogent reasons why they should receive what they want or make someone do what they asked. Losing control is something that children fear which prevents them from reaching a compromise.
However, giving children basic choices will often help them in mastering the art of compromise. In doing so, they will feel that they are in control. For example, a child asks to go to a party which ends late and they are insisting on remaining at the party until it ends.
You can simply ask the child whether they would prefer not to go to the party by you saying no or agreeing to go to the party but returning at a reasonable time before the party ends. The child may well see the parent as being unreasonable but by giving them a choice rather than purely saying “no” they are more likely to calm down and consider the choices they have been offered.
Young people need to see the adults in their life displaying the concept of compromise. It will help their understanding with time.
Be flexible – compromise does not mean you must always win. Compromise is not a fight. Compromise is about allowing each other to speak; listening and being flexible about how you can resolve any differences you may have. You should be willing to have a dialogue, be flexible and not rigid. You should equally listen attentively and encourage the other person to do the same.
Do not keep reminding your child of their wrongdoings from the past. If the child had erred and have been corrected severally but struggles to correct their behaviour, it will not help if you keep reminding them of their struggles. You should instead find ways to help them overcome the difficulties. You need to be empathetic and learn to let go. Sometimes, forgiving a child that is remorseful is a an amazing thing to do and it will help to build trust and rapport.
In order for compromise to work you should not have unrealistic expectations.
Be open-minded and do not insist on winning every argument. Do not expect that your child will always agree with your view point and change their beliefs and behaviour overnight or by you telling them to do so. These things take time and in order to avoid disappointments, the parent should not have unrealistic expectations.
If you are involved in an argument with your child, be mindful of your words as you clearly do not want to be setting the wrong example. Yes, parents shouldn’t really be arguing with their children but we must be honest and accept that arguments happen. It is, in some instances a good thing because in certain situations, if the adult handles it well particularly by not prolonging matters and even saying that the discussion should be held at a different time when both parties are calm, it will teach the child how to deal with arguments. The parent may also decide not to stand their ground and try to reach a compromise with the child in order to end the argument. We must remember that the way we conduct ourselves is the way our children will conduct themselves. Children occasionally remind parents of their behaviour. It is best that we are reminded of our best behaviours and not the worst ones by our children.
Keep your promise – do not promise and fail.
If you agree by way of compromise to do something. Ensure you follow it through to completion. If you don’t, your child may lose respect and trust for you. It might take a while to regain it. You want to be able to demonstrate to your child that your word is your bond and you did not make the compromise in order to end an argument.
Share your beliefs and emotions.
I would say remind your child about your family values particularly where you are both unable to agree on certain points and explain why it is important in the issues being discussed and your proposed action to deal with the situation. Do not forgo your values and beliefs just because you wish to be seen as being fair.
It is also acceptable to make your feelings known to your child and also allow your child to express their feelings. Both parties suppressing their feelings will prevent a successful compromise. When parties are aware of each other’s feelings, it will help in finding solutions to tackle their differences.
Irrespective of the outcome, be thankful for the opportunity in attempting to settle differences between you and your child. You can even show appreciation to your child for agreeing to discuss issues with a view to reaching a compromise. In doing this, you are also teaching and modelling for the child how they can reach a compromise with others.
Finally, it is important to remember that the aim of compromise is for the parties to feel content to a certain degree believing that they have been listened to and their concerns have been dealt with. Learning to compromise will teach children to feel valued and to value the needs of others.