12 year-old Asher and Debbie Talk About Handling Parent-Child Conflict
Today’s episode is a Kid’s POV Special episode featuring another conversation with 12-year-old Asher. Our topic? Conflict. More specifically, handling parent-child conflict between the two of us. We’re tackling this topic because I’ve been getting questions from listeners who want to know a) if we even have conflicts at all and b) if so, how we handle them.
The easy answer to the first part of that question is DEFINITELY. We DEFINITELY have conflict. I’m very human in that way, as is Asher. Today, we’ll spend the episode answering the second part of that question. We’ll talk about the kinds of things that crop up and cause conflict between us, and then we’ll share with you what that actually looks like in our world—what I do, what Ash does, and most importantly, how we move through and past it.
Pro tip: This is a good episode for co-listening! When Asher and I listen to podcasts, we dump a puzzle out on the dining room table and listen while building the puzzle. It makes for a nice combination!
About Debbie & Asher
Debbie Reber is the founder and CEO of Tilt Parenting and the host of the TiLT Parenting Podcast. 12-year-old Asher is Debbie’s child and is regularly featured on the podcast. Find out more by visiting the About Page.
Things you’ll learn from this episode
- The benefits of talking through and getting clear on expectations (for all members of the family) prior to leaving for a vacation
- A strategy for using the collaborative problem solving approach to identify, address, and pre-solve concerns ahead of time
- How to make departure day go more smoothly
- The benefits of exploring and researching aspects of a vacation time well in advance of the trip (including accommodations, activities, etc.)
- A strategy for using written schedules coupled with frequent reviews during a vacation keeps everyone’s expectations in check
- The benefits of bringing a child into the planning process (and letting them determine some of what will happen on vacation)
- Why it’s useful to work with your child to discover what they need most on vacation and then incorporating it into your daily plan (ie: rest, chill time, etc.)
Resources mentioned for handling parent-child conflict
Debbie Reber 00:00
No matter what happened I couldn’t ever let you see me sweat. I couldn’t ever let you see me get upset. And that sounds stressful. Yeah, it was stressful because I was keeping so much inside, which is not healthy and it doesn’t really help you either because you were struggling with such intense anger and emotions. And then here I am acting like…
Everyone else was like that, everyone else was perfect.
Debbie Reber 00:27
Welcome to the Tilt Parenting podcast, a podcast featuring interviews and conversations aimed at inspiring and forming and supporting parents raising differently wired kids. I’m your host Debbie Reber and today’s episode is a special kids POV episode with my 12-year-old son Asher. Today, Asher and I are going to talk about conflict, more specifically conflict between the two of us, because I’ve heard from listeners who want to know A) if we have conflicts, and B) if so, how do we handle them? So the quick answer to the first part of that question is, yes, we have conflict. I am very human in that way, as is Asher. So today, we’re going to talk about the things that crop up and cause conflict between us. And then we will share with you what that looks like, what I do, what he does, and most importantly, how we move through and past it. Before I get to the episode though, I have two announcements to make. First, if you’re on my email list, you’ve already heard about this. But if you’re not, I wanted to make sure you knew about my exciting new thing I’ve shared on tilt. So last week, I launched something called the Differently Wired 7 Day Challenge on Tilt Parenting. Basically, this is an online challenge where every day for seven days, you’ll get an email from me with the challenge for the day focused on the way you think, act and feel in relation to your child. The goal of this is to positively impact the way you experience your day-to-day life, and help you experience more confidence and peace in that dynamic right now. It’s totally free, and it’s also ongoing. So if that sounds like something you want to try out, I would love for you to join me. You can learn more about it all the details and sign up at Tilt Parenting that calm slash 7 Day. Secondly, I just want to quickly give a shout out to my friend Richard Schramm who is just wrapping up a Kickstarter campaign for a very cool app aimed at supporting differently wired kids, especially kids with ADHD, but really any kid who’s struggling with things like executive functioning skills, I have an interview with rich coming up in a few weeks. But his Kickstarter campaign ends on Thursday. And I would love to see him get the funding to bring his app to fruition because I love what it’s about. It’s about keeping kids on track focused and motivated in a way that works for parents and feels good for the whole family. If this sounds like something you’d would want for your family, I encourage you to help back this campaign. It basically just means you’re paying for it early, while simultaneously helping to make sure it can get made. If you want to check it out, visit kickstarter.com and search for I got this. I’ll also include a link on the show notes page as well. Thanks so much. And now I will get on with the show.
Debbie Reber 03:25
Hey, Asher, hello. How are you today?
Debbie Reber 03:33
Well, we are doing another Asher special podcast, as you know. And today we are going to be talking about conflict. Yeah, I’ve gotten this question from more than one person. People who are curious to know how we handle conflict. And that’s assuming we have conflict. That’s a big assumption, don’t you think?
Yeah. Which we don’t?
Debbie Reber 03:54
Okay, we do.
Debbie Reber 03:57
I think it’s funny because we tried to record this two days ago.
And we had a conflict.
Debbie Reber 04:03
We didn’t have a big conflict. But it was not working. I think it was because it was towards the end of the day, and you were just not very engaged. And I was feeling a little stressed that we needed to get the podcast recorded. So what was a mini conflict? Do you remember how we handle that?
Ah, by recording it today instead?
Debbie Reber 04:24
Yeah. So we decided to record it today instead? And yeah, it wasn’t a big conflict. I was a little frustrated. But I think in that case, I just said, Okay, we’re not going to do this now. And I kind of just let it go. And I went in my office and worked on something else and took a few breaths. And that was kind of the end of it. Right?
Debbie Reber 04:44
So before we get into the conversation about conflicts in terms of how we handle it in our relationship, I’m curious to know what your opinion is about conflicts. Do you think that they’re good? Do you think there’s something that we should avoid? What do you think?
I think they’re necessary without complex, you’ll never know how strong your relationship is.
Debbie Reber 05:05
Okay. Can you say more about that? How does a cat as a conflict, give you that information?
Well if it tears your relationship apart. And obviously it wasn’t strong enough.
Debbie Reber 05:16
Right? I can see that answer when it comes to friendships. Right, that makes sense. But what about an A mother-son relationship? So I think the conflicts are just a normal part of any relationship. Yeah, I know that some people feel uncomfortable about conflicts or maybe kind of want to avoid them at all costs. But they’re certainly have been a part of our relationship. And I do think that they have made us stronger, working through some of our conflicts.
Debbie Reber 05:49
What are the kinds of things that we have conflicts about?
Well, sometimes when I miss dinner, oh, that’s usually my conflict with myself. It’s true because I feel bad about missing dinner.
Debbie Reber 06:02
It used to be a bigger problem, and that your dad or I would get upset if you missed dinner. But now, we’re kind of upset with myself if I miss dinner. Yeah. And you’re usually harder on yourself than we are on you. Yeah. So well, most listeners know that we are a homeschooling family. So you and I spend a lot of time together. And of course, we have conflicts. We have our really good days, and we have our not-so-great days. Luckily the not-so-great days are fewer and far between at this point, but we still have our challenges. One of the examples I thought we could share Asher of a recent conflict that’s been kind of a reoccurring theme has to do with a little something called the order of
Operation. Oh no, not that.
Debbie Reber 06:56
Why do you say that?
Because it’s so annoying.
Debbie Reber 07:01
So why don’t you share with listeners why the order of operations is so annoying to you?
Because it’s completely arbitrary. And you can easily do everything with just parentheses.
Debbie Reber 07:11
Right? You in your opinion?
Yeah, you could just put things in parentheses.
Debbie Reber 07:16
Right. So here’s a little background for listeners. So I teach most subjects to Asher, except for science and art, and Dutch. So other than that, I’m still teaching. And so in math, we’re using this math curriculum this year, it’s a new one, we decided to go offline because you didn’t want to be doing your math on a computer. So that means I’m your math teacher, which is fine, except you have a lot of resistance around certain math rules that have been accepted by the mathematical community.
Debbie Reber 07:53
And I would say the order of operations brought this house down for about three weeks. Is that correct?
Debbie Reber 08:03
So what would happen during a typical math session, when I suggested that we were going to move forward with the order of operations?
And we’re like, no, I don’t like the order of operations why can’t they just use parentheses?
Debbie Reber 08:18
And then I would say, I understand that this is frustrating for you, and that you have kind of a philosophical objection to the order of operations. However, it is what I need to be teaching you right now. Because that’s the curriculum like,
Well it, stupid, why would I want to be taught something that was inefficient and useless, and I refuse to learn it? Right? What is hard is that it isn’t that hard.
Debbie Reber 08:47
No. Your objection is not about how difficult it is. It’s because you really struggle with things that seem inefficient, and or arbitrary. Right.
And this was both,
Debbie Reber 09:00
And this is both. So I thought we would just go through kind of the anatomy of a conflict using the order of operations as an example. So what exactly happened? So I remember telling you that we were going to be doing the order of operations, we prepped for it. You agreed, okay. I’m going to be cool with this. I think it’s stupid, but I know I need to do it anyway. So we had done a lot of work so that your kind of were working on your mindset around accepting the order of operations in your life.
Yeah. And then I learned it
Debbie Reber 09:36
And then you learned it, but this day, I’m thinking of, we had this big talk, you were already I was like, Ah, good. We’re going to avoid conflict. It’s going to be a super productive mass session. And I got out the whiteboard and I grabbed my pen, and I started I wrote down a problem. And you look, you took one look at it. You spoke
I didn’t know this was going to be order of operations with fractions. I just thought it was going to be order of operations. That’s twice as bad.
Debbie Reber 10:07
So you remember when the story I’m telling
I don’t like fractions either, they’re just ways of writing division problems that make them look like actual numbers.
Debbie Reber 10:19
So this is all funny now to recall that at the time, it was not so funny because it had been weeks and weeks. And we finally got to a place where we were kind of move forward. And then I wrote down a fraction,
And I realized it was twice as bad as I thought.
Debbie Reber 10:36
And you lost it. And you started yelling, and you stormed out of the room. And I just sat there like, oh, my gosh, at what? I was frustrated, I was annoyed because I thought I did everything I needed to do. I was all prepped, and you were prepped, and now we were back to square one. So that’s an example of a conflict. And I get pretty upset in those moments, don’t I?
Debbie Reber 11:06
What do you see what I get upset? I’m curious. Like, from your perspective, what is me being really upset look like?
Well, you usually leave and then take some deep breaths.
No, I said, usually.
Debbie Reber 11:22
What do I do when I don’t model healthy conflict resolution strategies?
You get annoyed?
Yeah. What does that look like?
Maybe yelling or something?
Debbie Reber 11:34
Yeah, I. Typically what happens is you get really upset you Storm Away, and I go any one of two directions. One direction, the direction I’d like to go in, is I do remember to take those deep breaths, and I decide to just give you time to chill. And I wait until we’re both calm. And then we reconnected and kind of debrief on what happened. Sometimes, I do not do that. Sometimes something catches me so off guard, and I get upset too quickly to take those breaths. And then I get really upset, and my getting upset tend to look like me
Making me even more upset. That’s what’s the word? That’s a slippery slope.
Debbie Reber 12:18
It is a slippery slope. You know, when you were little Asher, and maybe like, I don’t know, four or five, six, and you were really challenging, your behavior was really challenging. And you were doing all kinds of things that, you know, our friends’ kids were not doing. And they’re our friends, kids, for the most part, were very compliant and kind of listened to their parents that oh, don’t do that the child wouldn’t stop doing it. And so we were just so perplexed, because we didn’t know how to how to help you or encourage you to stop doing things that you weren’t supposed to be doing or things that were dangerous or whatever. And I remember one friend said, why don’t you just try yelling at them? That’s what we do. And for some reason I thought that was a good idea. I was like, Okay, I’ll try it.
It’s not like yelling is something angry. Yeah. Yeah. Just like the expression it about fight fire with fire.
Debbie Reber 13:23
Right? I mean, it wasn’t even that I was going to scream at you. But I was like, Alright, I’m going to try raising my voice and being a more authoritative, domineering parent and see if that snaps him out of it. Well, I think I tried that one time. And I learned very quickly that raising my voice to you are trying to be stern with you what I might as well have taken a big vat of gasoline and dumped it on top of a fire because it did not go well. It was
Yeah, gasoline is liquid right liquids put out fires, don’t they?
Debbie Reber 14:02
It was not a good move. I I knew from that point on that that is not the way to get this child’s attention and it’s not going to fix anything. It’s going to make things much worse. However with that said, yes, I do still sometimes lose my cool when I lose my cool. I tend to storm away. I’m big on dramatic exits, if I’m feeling really upset, so I might storm away. I may even
Yell like a one liner.
Debbie Reber 14:30
It just like a one liner. Sometimes I say an expletive I will admit. I don’t know.
Debbie Reber 14:38
You’re like yeah. However, that’s life. I don’t think I’d be doing you any favors if I never let you see myself get upset. In fact, I used to. I used to feel like I couldn’t let you see me get upset because that was bad modeling.
It seemed like parents were fallible,
Debbie Reber 14:58
right, yeah, and I didn’t wasn’t that so? I don’t know. I just felt like I had to always keep my cool. No matter what happened. I couldn’t ever let you see me sweat. I couldn’t ever let you see me get upset.
And it sounds stressful.
Debbie Reber 15:12
Yeah, it was stressful because I was keeping so much inside, which is not healthy. And it doesn’t really help you either because you were struggling with such intense anger and emotions.
Debbie Reber 15:25
And then no one else was like that, everyone else was perfect.
Debbie Reber 15:30
Exactly. Exactly. So, I mean, that was a while ago, that I finally gave myself permission to just kind of let my emotions be expressed. And yeah,
When was that?
Debbie Reber 15:42
I don’t know, maybe five years ago?
Debbie Reber 15:47
Yeah. Yes, it helped. It helped me feel better. And I also think it’s a lot healthier for you, because now you get to see that we don’t have it all figured out either. And we’re still working on our own strategies to stay calm. Your dad to your dad is not immune from this conversation. He also has his moments we all do in this house. But so when we have conflicts like that, where one or both of us really lose our cool, what usually happens, like how do we move past the conflict? What from your perspective? What is that process look like?
Well, usually we apologize. Sometimes me for sometimes mom but I, try to make sure it’s me first, because I feel extra good when that happens. Really? Yeah.
Debbie Reber 16:38
I have noticed, especially in the past year, that yeah you.
There’s kind of this moment after I’m angry. Where I’m where I’m just like, I don’t really want to spend the rest of my day being angry. I’m going to apologize right now. And then sometimes I do, and sometimes I don’t. But whenever I do, it’s totally worth it.
Debbie Reber 16:58
And your apologies are so sincere too, they feel nice and genuine. And, yeah, that is something I’ve really noticed in the past year that you have been often apologizing before I do, which I think is pretty incredible that you’re able to get to that point on your own.
Yeah, like I remember there was this one. I think one of the first times that happened there was one time when I got really annoyed but hurt myself before I got really annoyed. And so I immediately calmed down. I was like, can you bandage my finger.
Yeah. And then I apologized after that.
Debbie Reber 17:38
Yeah, you will have been doing that on your own. And sometimes, if you’re really upset, you tend to go to your room and read or listen to music and kind of chill out. And I think I used to try
Until I feel apologetic.
Debbie Reber 17:53
Yeah. And I think I used to feel like I needed to fix things right away. And I’m really working on giving you some space to relax and making sure that I’m also fully recovered emotionally, because I don’t want to engage with you to try to move forward and reconnect until I am genuinely calm and in a good place. Because if I do it too early, and I’m still kind of annoyed, then I might come in and talk to you and still
Make it worse
Debbie Reber 18:21
Yeah, make it worse, I can make it worse. And then we must start the process all over.
Didn’t dad do that once?
Debbie Reber 18:27
Yeah, I think he has done that.
He tried to apologize. And he ended up blaming it all on me.
Debbie Reber 18:36
Yeah, so it doesn’t really help you have to make sure you’re ready.
There’s nothing to be sorry for, for it’s all your fault.
Debbie Reber 18:46
It’s like sorry, not sorry, not apologies. Yes, that’s true. I do think it’s important to wait to wait a good chunk of time, until both people are really calm. And then typically what I do if you haven’t come to me first and apologize, then I will come to you and I’ll check in and I tried to go right to first I apologize if I if I was the one out of line.
That makes me apologize too
Debbie Reber 19:22
That’s true. The second I apologize to you instantly shift. It’s really great. Because I think so often you just want to feel recognized and understood. And so when someone apologizes and takes responsibility for what they did you feel recognized and understood. And then yeah, you’re not defensive
And you apologize for what you did too.
Debbie Reber 19:42
Yeah, yeah. I also, one of the things that I do Asher is I tried to be really empathetic, and I find that when I can be empathetic to what you’re going through, even if I don’t understand why, you got so upset.
Yeah, these orders of operations don’t make any sense to me either,
Debbie Reber 20:04
Right. Or if I can just say, I understand that this is really frustrating for you, and you really don’t like doing things you consider to be a waste of time. And so I try to make sure that you know that I, I understand why you’re so upset, and I’m not disregarding it. And I’m not trying to minimize it. And when I do that, you tend to respond really well, because you feel again, heard and understood, right? And if we’re dealing with something bigger, then once we’ve apologized, and we’ve taken responsibility, and we’ve talked it through, and I’ve been empathetic about the situation, how do we move forward from there to kind of address the actual situation that happened and try to make sure it doesn’t happen again?
Oh, I’m not sure.
Debbie Reber 20:54
Well, we use something. Maybe you don’t know what it’s called. It’s called proactive problem solving. Actually, it’s proactive, collaborative problem solving.
Yeah, I can see why I wouldn’t know what it was called.
Debbie Reber 21:07
Yeah, I probably don’t say it’s time to proactively collaboratively problems, but.
Yeah, let’s collaborate on proactively problem solving.
Debbie Reber 21:17
But it’s a technique that is outlined in this amazing book called The Explosive Child, which I know I’ve mentioned on the podcast before.
Debbie Reber 21:27
It’s by this man named Dr. Ross Green. And it’s this very straightforward way to either be after something has happened or before the fact. So if you do it before you’re proactively problem solving, if you do it after you’re just problem solving. And it’s basically looking at the situation and seeing what happened in that moment. What was it that was so hard and difficult, and then coming up with solutions for how we can avoid that in the future. And I often asked you to come up with those solutions, because for it to work,
They have to be good solutions,
Debbie Reber 22:07
right? They have to be good solutions, and you need to feel bought into them. So if I just say, this is what we’re going to do,
Yeah, we’re going to make strategies.
Debbie Reber 22:18
Yeah, that doesn’t work. But often, what I have noticed is that you often have really great ideas and strategies that you come up with yourself to deal with these kinds of problems so we can avoid them moving forward.
Debbie Reber 22:34
And then what do we do when we’re all done with that, say, we’ve
Then we repeat the process.
Debbie Reber 22:39
Say we had a big conflict. And we both needed time to chill out. Then we reconnected, we apologize. We share empathy, we talk it through, we definitely talk through and try to make sure the other person knows we understand their point of view.
Then we see if our strategies work.
Debbie Reber 22:59
And then we come up with some ideas, and we always end are these kinds of things with a hug, too.
Debbie Reber 23:05
Which I think is really important.
Debbie Reber 23:08
And I think it’s also important that after that hug, you just kind of give each other a fresh start and a clean slate and just both agree to let it go. Not to bring up a song from a certain movie or anything.
Oh, I hadn’t even thought of that. Sorry.
Debbie Reber 23:25
It just popped into my head. But I won’t start singing it. I promise.
Debbie Reber 23:30
But yeah, I think that is that’s kind of our cycle. And it really that last piece is really important. I think because you’re really good Asher and letting things go once you’ve forgiven someone and accepted their apology. You move on. You don’t hold grudges, which is such a lovely quality.
Well, I only hold grudges against people I didn’t like in the first place.
Debbie Reber 23:54
Right? People who probably didn’t genuinely apologize to you as well.
Debbie Reber 23:59
Because if someone genuinely apologizes and is vulnerable and wants to connect and make amends you.
Oh but I’m sorry. You were offended. Or just no apology at all.
Debbie Reber 24:12
Yeah, that doesn’t work.
Yeah, my actions were totally justified. Not yours, though.
Debbie Reber 24:18
Yeah. Any hoodles. So. So that’s kind of our strategy for conflict. So we definitely have them. We’re not immune to them. They don’t happen super often. We definitely have our good weeks and our bad weeks. But I feel like we’ve gotten so much practice at dealing with conflict that we’ve we kind of know how to move through them. We, we accept that they’re part of our relationship. And I would actually venture to say after that some of our conflicts have really actually even brought us closer and helped me to understand you better.
Yeah, that’s what you get if you succeed with a conflict, you get closer. But if you fail the conflict, you get further apart.
Debbie Reber 25:05
Right? And that’s not really an option in a parent child relationship.
Yeah. Well, I mean, it is, but it’s not really very good.
Debbie Reber 25:14
It’s not ideal. It’s all about I think you just kind of keep, keep going in and keep working on it and keep being vulnerable and communicating. And, yeah, hopefully it will bring you closer together. And, some of the moments that I have felt almost the closest to you where we’ve really bonded and connected and had these deep, meaningful conversations about things. They came on the heels of a conflict. Isn’t that interesting?
Debbie Reber 25:47
So I guess maybe the lesson in that too, is to not avoid conflict, but to lean into them.
Debbie Reber 25:57
Not to create them. I wouldn’t say let’s make conflict, but.
Yeah, let’s conflict over things.
Debbie Reber 26:04
But to know that they’re not a bad thing. And, if you are willing to do the work, they can actually help you move your relationship forward in a really amazing way.
Debbie Reber 26:17
Well, before we go, Astra, is there anything else that you want to add about conflict, anything that you want to share for listeners?
Not really, I already said the stuff online point of view about them.
Debbie Reber 26:28
Okay. Sounds good. Well, thank you so much for sharing. And having this conversation, we were actually going to record this, I don’t know, like a month and a half ago. But it was at a time it might have been during the order of operations saga. So we were having a lot of conflicts, and we decided to wait until we had a little distance from that. So I’m glad we were able to have this conversation and I hope it’s helpful for our listeners. So thanks so much for sharing and being open today, Asher,
Debbie Reber 26:59
You’ve been listening to the Tilt Parenting podcast for the show notes for this episode, including links to the resources Asher and I talked about in the show as well as the I Got This Kickstarter campaign page. Visit tilde parenting though comm slash session 51 And if you’d like to participate in that Differently Wired 7 Day Challenge I talked about at the beginning of the show, please visit us at tiltparenting.com/7day to find out more and get signed up. We would love to have you join in. And lastly, if you like what you heard on today’s episode, and you haven’t already done so, please consider Subscribing to our podcast on iTunes or leaving a review. Both of those things make a big difference when it comes to helping our podcast get more visibility. Thanks again for listening. For more information on to parenting visit www.tiltparenting.com.