Managing Conflict: How Can a Dreamer and a Doer Live in Harmony?

Managing conflict between a dreamer and a doer, two very different personality types is possible. A dreamer is someone who likes to talk about their ideas and bounce those ideas off their partner. The doer is the one in the relationship who actually gets things done. They make phone calls, set a plan and do the follow through. This can be great if you both work well together and make the dreams come to fruition.

The problem can occur when the dreamer starts talking about their dreams, like remodeling the house, starting a small business, or something as simple as a new diet for the two of you. Let’s say the man is the dreamer and he has heard about a raw foods diet. It sounds amazing, so healthy and his friend is feeling so much more energy since being on it. So he starts sharing his ideas with his partner. The woman hears this and she knows that the actual implementation of this diet is going to fall on her shoulders. What she hears is, “I will have to shop differently and learn new recipes”. This is stressing her out.

She thinks about this and she wants to dream with him but she can’t take this on right now because of other things in her life. This is where conflict arises. What she may do is try to shut it down, she becomes the nay sayer. She points out the problems with the diet, that it is not realistic, too hard to really do, can’t eat in their favorite restaurant anymore. This frustrates the dreamer because he doesn’t want to hear that, he likes to dream.

This can also happen with your teenagers, they come to you with big ideas. Mom or Dad hear “unrealistic” and “it sounds like a lot of work”. So if you are the doer how should you handle this without having to squash the dream? There are various options but one of them is to be supportive, honest and put the ball back in the dreamers court. It is not your job to make all their dreams a reality. If you are too busy or just don’t want to put your energy there then say something like, “That’s a great idea, how can you make that happen?” If they put it back on you then you have to be honest and say “I want to support you but right now I don’t have the time or energy to make that happen”.

As a doer you assume it is your job to take care of it, that is your gift, making things happen, but it is not always helpful, especially for a teenager as they need to put the effort in. And the truth is some adult dreamers just like to share their ideas with you, they probably aren’t ready to make it happen either but the dreaming is what they do and it is fun for them.

Recognize that you are different in this, accept this part of who they are and don’t let it stress you out. Recognize that you can say no, you are not responsible for making all the ideas happen, if you just let them talk about it that actually might be all they need.

Written by Lisa Strong

How to Listen When Someone You Love is Hurting

When someone you love is hurting and comes to you with their pain, what can you say? You want to make them feel better but you are uncomfortable, you don’t know what to do. Remember these 3 helpful suggestions.

It’s not about you. I am sure that you have heard the analogy that a conversation is like a tennis match. You have to keep the ball going back and forth. This may be true sometimes but I believe that when someone is hurting, they want the ball. What I mean is, it’s not time for you to tell your story. We all do this, we want them to know that we understand what they are going through so we start telling them a story about how we went through something similar. They lost someone, so did you. They have cancer, so did your uncle. They feel depressed, you felt like that when you lost your job. When someone is hurting and opening up to you, let them have the ball.

No judgement. In order for someone to come to you and share their feelings they need to feel like you are a safe place. They don’t want you telling them what they did wrong. If your child comes to you, telling you a story of something that is troubling them don’t lay into them with advice of how they can do better. There will be a time for that but for your advice to be effective they need to feel like you are on their side, have compassion for them, and you understand. When that is established then maybe they will be open to your help.

Keep them talking. It is hard for many people to share their hurts so if they feel like you’re not interested then they will stop sharing. You need to show them that you want to hear what they have to say. Give them your full attention. Don’t look at your phone or away from them. Encourage them to keep sharing by saying things like, “how did that make you feel?” or “tell me more about that”. This will prompt them to keep sharing and help them feel supported.

These three things will allow those you care about to know that you are ready to listen. We all need to be heard, especially when we are hurting. If you can put yourself aside, you opinions aside and your time aside to listen then they will know that you really care about them. It is a gift you can give.

Written by Lisa Strong

How Do You Respond When Your Child says “I Hate You”?

Have you ever had your child yell at you “I hate you”. I know that doesn’t feel good. It feels like a low moment in parenting. Hopefully it wont happen to you but if it does you are required to respond like an adult.

Your child lashes out with the most hurtful thing they can think of to say, “I hate you”. They must be extremely frustrated or hurt and he/she is expressing that feeling with anger. They do not know how to deal with their feelings in a healthy way. You, as the adult, need to show them a more appropriate response. The first thing to remember when disciplining a child for any unacceptable behavior is never withhold your love, that can not be a punishment.  When they yell hurtful words do not stoop to their childish behavior and respond with anger. You need to be the adult and show them how to handle their feelings and that those hurtful words that they yell at you do have consequences.

The idea to withhold love as a consequence for any bad behavior should not be a parenting strategy. There can be no silent treatment, no withholding hugs or bedtime kisses. Your child needs to know that even when they behave badly at school or don’t do their chores or don’t turn in their homework that there will be natural consequences to their choices but they will always be loved. You want your child to feel safe in the relationship, secure in how you will respond.

A child who does not feel this security in the home may respond in many different ways. They may seek that acceptance and security from someone else or a group. They may live with great anxiety and develop physical and emotional responses. They may put great pressure on themselves to be perfect so they will not make you angry and loose your favor. All of these responses are unhealthy behavior choices and will have consequences in their adult relationships.

Your job as the parent is to reassure them of their secure place in your heart and in the home and that you always want what is best for them. You may need to enforce the discipline but teaching them that there are consequences for their behavior does not need to be mean, it can be done with strength and love.

Written by Lisa Strong


The Secret Every Parent Needs to Know

Here’s the one thing every parent of every child needs to know.  Are you ready for it?  Your kid wants to be validated.  That’s it.  

Validating the feelings of your children helps them to feel understood. To help your child feel understood, it means you keeping your ego and desire to lecture in check. Validating your child’s feelings also means that you don’t judge him or her. Instead, you simply acknowledge his or her feelings. This takes focus and discipline as parents. As I share with my clients, the best discipline you can give your child is having the self-discipline to be patient, empathetic, and loving—especially when he or she is not acting lovable. Contrary to what many frustrated parents may think, particularly during those stressful times of conflicts, validating feelings is not condoning bad choices or giving in to defiant behavior.

“Validating” means giving your child or teen that all important, and seemingly elusive, message that “Your feelings make sense. I not only am giving you permission to feel what you feel but I am also welcoming and accepting your feelings in a non-judgmental way.” Validating your child coveys deep empathy. This will help build your child’s self-esteem and reduce his or her defiant behavior, which is often the languange choice of children who do not feel understood.

Dr. Jeffrey Bernstein lists the following three most effective ways to validate your kids.

-Communicate your intent to listen without judging or blaming or shaming and calling yourself out if you stray from this empathetic stance.

-Be sensitive to, and acknowledge how difficult and even embarrassing it is to be “different” when he/she wants to be like everyone else.

Acknowledge the problems in his/her life and that they matter. Many children and teens I counsel repeatedly share that their parents minimize or dismiss their struggles.

To do these things you must be intentional.  You must want to grow closer to your kids.  You must have a desire to build them up.  No matter what age.  Start now, be consistent and observe the change.

Written by Lisa Smith

5 Things Your Kids Don’t Need in 2018

It’s likely our kids aren’t pondering the direction of their life and what it should and should not entail in this new year.  To some degree, it’s our job to do it for them.  Instead of focusing on what more to give them, I encourage you to focus on not giving them these 5 things with the guarantee that it will change their life for the better.  And, full disclosure, I borrowed some of this from blogger, Jenny Rapson.

Your kids do not need…
1. A personal servant: your job is not to raise children but to raise adults.  Most adults do not have someone following them around picking up their stuff, doing all their laundry and magically making meals appear.  Most adults, even the really busy ones, do these things for themselves.  It’s your job to teach your kids time management so they can take care of their stuff and become independent.

2. A Participation Trophy: your kids don’t need a ribbon or a trophy for showing up. They deserve a ribbon or a trophy for preparing and working hard.  Giving our young ones awards for just being somewhere, no matter the amount of work they do or don’t put in encourages entitlement and takes away motivation to do their best.  They are thinking, after all, no matter what they will get an award, right?  Hopefully, not!

3. An Overloaded Schedule: I know as adults you are busy and your days are full and at times you can barely manage it all.  News flash… your kids might feel the same way and they haven’t even finished high school.  Kids need to learn how to incorporate down-time and self-care in to their schedules.  So many of them have anxiety and it’s no surprise because they are going from one event to another, almost seven days a week on top of school.  This takes away from family time and rest.

4. Custom-made Meals: brace yourself because for some of you this is going to be a tough one.  Your kids need to eat what you make for dinner or go hungry.  Back to the point of them not needing a personal servant.  No more making different meals for each different family member.

5. More Real-World Knowledge Than They Are Ready For: there is a danger in sheltering our kids too much.  There is also a danger in telling them too much about our harsh world too soon.  As much as is possible, allow knowledge of the world to come in age-appropriate waves.  A healthy way to expose them to the “real world” is through community service to those less fortunate than themselves.  It’s good for them to know that there are people who need help and are suffering and that, even as kids, they can make a difference.  But they don’t need to know about the atrocities, tragedies and heartaches happening in the world because they don’t have the emotional skills to cope with that information yet.

So, there you have it.  Your kids will have happier, healthier and less stressful lives without these 5 things.  Don’t give your kids too much, too soon.  Even with the best of intentions, it’s not good for them now or for their future.  

Written by Lisa Smith

5 Reasons to Improve Family Communication

When you get home after a long day of work is your home a place of rest, where you feel comfortable to be yourself and you can relax? This is not always the case.  It can feel like a place where you have to put walls up to protect yourself, you don’t feel understood, and there is no peace. You can’t figure out how to change that. It could be that you and your loved ones are not communicating in a way that works. If you could communicate in a healthy way then you would see benefits. Here are 5 benefits to healthy family communication.

1. If you can learn to communicate your needs and feelings in a way that is received then you will minimize resentment in yourself. Resentment is a feeling of indignation and displeasure because you feel like you are being mistreated, misunderstood or wronged. This is not how you should feel with your loved ones. They should be your teammates, the people who are on your side. It can be an environment of cooperation, not competition.

2. When you learn to listen to those that you care about then they will feel cared for and validated by you. This will improve your relationship and minimize their anger and frustration with you.

3. When you learn to communicate in a nonthreatening way then you will minimize defensiveness. By minimizing their defensiveness then you create an environment where you can be heard and they will feel safe, they can take their walls down. You will be building trust and a feeling of security in your home.

4. Respectful communication is a good role model for your children. They learn how a marriage functions by watching you and your spouse. Do they see you showing care and compassion or is it more of a competition to get your way? Is the communication demanding or does your child see each of you listening and working together to find a solution to a conflict?

5. You will be able to resolve conflict without feeling like you are in a battle. With healthy communication you will feel heard and you will be able to understand your partners view and then move to brainstorming a solution that would be acceptable to each of you.

These communication skills can be learned and practiced. It may be hard for you to change bad habits.  Possibly because you were not raised in a home with this type of an environment. You can change the repetitive cycle of bad communication, be the one in your family to change what your children are exposed to and how they will interact with their future friends, colleague or spouses. This ripple effect will benefit your whole family.

By Lisa Strong