Have you tried going in-between your parents’ word fight?
I have… many times.
Being the eldest, I guess I will always have a say in certain matters, because I’m the next grown-up after the parents. Before, I had no business whatsoever because I was younger and “immature”, but if I were allowed to say something, I would have said a lot of things.
Things have changed however and there is the inevitability of growing up. I definitely have something more to say now that I’m classified as “mature”, “of the right age”, and credible – as I am already married; plus, they ask me about my opinions. My advice is solicited, it’s not like I’m intruding or anything. But I won’t admit to being an expert or mature or credible. I’m none of that. My only leverage is that I’m a concerned third party and that I see the argument in a perspective not my parents’ own.
I give advice to my parents on several argumentative occasions. My advice depends on how grave the cause of the argument. I’ve also said the same things over and over but with different versions. How come? Because a lot of conflicts are repeated time and time again. And because sometimes, the most stubborn heads are right there in your own home. Perhaps parents find it difficult to reconcile with the fact that a child of theirs is the one giving them advice. Their “stubbornness” is an indicator that they unconsciously resist heeding their child’s advice.
I can’t blame them for being “stubborn” because they’re not inclined to listening to their own children reprimanding them. It just doesn’t work that way, I guess. I understand that. It’s more “normal” that children listen to parents, not the other way around. To some parents, maybe this exchanging of roles is a bit awkward. It sometimes is difficult to make sense of it. Regardless, I guess there are exceptions when the children are already adults.
It’s funny how non-techy parents do not realize that their chat exchange on group messenger is read by other members of the group. They just go at it like it’s just in between them two.
Then you butt in – warning them of their non-exclusive conversation. But instead of ceasing the nasty word fight, they attempt to validate their claims by recruiting someone to side with them. The unfortunate role will eventually fall on whoever sees the conversation first or whoever notices first. In most times, the unfortunate role falls on me because I’m always online and “active”.
Due to the number of times that I’ve come between my parents’ word-fight over Messenger, I’ve learned that it is wiser not to side with anybody; after all, fights and arguments between married couples are normal. Siding with one will only make matters worse. It’s also quite impossible to side with either of the two because you love them both. How will you possibly choose between your parents that you both love?
So what do I do when I’m stuck between my parents’ word-fights?
- I try to calm down. It’s wise not to add fuel to the fire.
- I send a personal message to my mom first – inquiring about what started it all. I decide to message my mom first because she tends to be more “emotional” and more prepared to open up and speak up. I guess it’s a woman-thing. It’s easier to get the gist of things from someone who is more willing to speak up. In this case, it’s my mom who replies more instantaneously.
- Then I listen to her side of the story.
- I send a personal message to my father – inquiring about the same thing. By the time I send him a message of inquiry, he is already aware that I have “asked” my mom about the matter. He will then be more open to opening it up to me. Men tend to be more reserved when it comes to opening up about their problems. As much as possible, they want to resolve things on their own – without anybody’s help, most especially, if this “anybody” happens to be their own daughter.
- Then I listen to his side of the story. I always take precautions in talking to a man who is extremely provoked. I don’t want to provoke him further.
- I ponder on the cause and think of a possible solution to the problem.
- I send a general message that would get the two of them thinking. In most times, I do not know the exact words to say, for fear of aggravating the situation. I’m also hesitant to be frank because my words might add pain to their already pained hearts. As much as possible, I hold back in saying things to my parents. I don’t want to hurt any of them by my words. There is always that concept of “respect” and “honor” to consider when dealing with parents.
- If the heat of the conversation dies down a bit, I insert humor to a statement or bring to their recall some of their happy memories. Sometimes, this attempt works, but sometimes it doesn’t; it depends on how deep the root cause is – if it is something really painful or if it is just one petty reason.
- I try to conjure up good news just to divert their attention from the argument. If this works, I go on and on about it until the argument is forgotten. If not,
- I pose a question or ask for their opinion about the positive statement/news I just said. Getting them to think of other things besides the argument is just one way to divert their attention from the matter.
Most of the time, these steps work for me – being the unfortunate one who always “goes-between.” I have more success doing these things rather than being too blunt (is there such thing as “too blunt”?) and critical of their personal foibles and faults. I have tried being frank and too honest of my criticisms before, and it only brought more pain to my parents. The fact is, when I get too critical or if my words get too blunt or straightforward, the attention diverts to my straightforwardness instead of the true cause of the argument. My hurtful words tend to cut them deep and these words consequently elicit reactions from my parents – reactions that will make you realize that the conversation has already been diverted to you – the main issue thrown out the window.
I’ve learned that not taking sides and being objective is more effective than taking things personally. I will only have to think like I am a counselor who is expected to be calm, relaxed and willing to listen. I’ve also learned not to entertain the temptation of expressing disappointment towards any of them, regardless of whose fault it is.