The One Word That Turns a Conflict Around

When it comes to family and friends, we’re not fighting to win. Image credit: ostill / 123RF Stock Photo

Five days since we left for a little vacation. Eight hours of driving through the desert. Ten meals out. And about five-hundred conflicts among my four daughters (and sometimes me, too).

Ah, quality time with the family!

When you throw a few developmental delays and mood disorders, and sprinkle with adoption attachment issues (a.k.a. leaving home for any reason = bad), it’s quite a recipe for conflict. Come to think of it, when you throw together a few of any kind of person with any of our crazy issues as humans, it’s a recipe for conflict.

You know what works best for us in those inevitable moments?


  • Get space. Walk away, switch seats, look away, get yourself mentally to a place that gives you joy and energy. Do whatever it takes to put in a little healthy distance and allow some perspective.
  • Reveal love. Show love even when you don’t feel it right then. Love is, indeed, an action. Love in your tone of voice, your body language, your word choices. Be mad, frustrated or whatever you need to process, but choose love in the midst of it.
  • Ask questions. My husband is the king of this. Clarify, clarify, clarify. Most disagreements happen in the wake of misunderstanding, and we can never fully understand another’s heart, intentions and needs… unless we ask.
  • Count the good. Do a quick survey of what’s good right then. That you HAVE family or friends (even if they are making you crazy. Solitary confinement is a form of torture, after all). That you can move, breathe, see, hear, feel the sunshine on your face, touch your favorite fabric.
  • Envision. Picture what’s possible, particularly what responses – positive, confident, loving responses – are possible from you and in that moment. It’s been over used, but picture what Jesus or someone else you admire would do right then and mimic it. Practice may not make perfect, but it certainly gets us going in the right direction!

Sow GRACE and eventually you’ll see that crop of confidence, joy and connectedness will sprout and flourish. Even if you ARE in the car in the 107 degree heat with four kids!


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