I know we say that there are people who love confrontation, but I don’t really believe that. I believe that there are people who love to argue and to boss to demand their way, but when it comes to attending to a difficult situation – especially one in which someone has messed up, I think even the most argumentative would rather not do it. See, the key difference between confronting and just arguing is the intent. People who love to argue want only one thing: you to see that they are right. But a confrontation carries the intent of solving the problem. Let’s look at a few scenarios.
You are mad at a workmate because she took forever at the copier, and you were in a hurry. So, you told everyone but her how you were inconvenienced. She confronts you to explain that what she was doing has importance to her, and she’d really appreciate if you didn’t belittle her work. Ouch!
You’ve been friends with this couple for years. Now, having been married for almost twenty years, he tends to put her down in front of all of you. So, you confront him and ask him to leave those issues at home, as it makes everyone there uncomfortable. Not a fun task!
One more, in cleaning your child’s room, you find something you do not want to find. You simply have to find out more because of the danger it could pose to your child, but you know a confrontation is going to result in yelling, lying, and accusations. Nevertheless…
Have I made my point yet that confrontations are not desirable activities? We cannot avoid them, though. In my early career, I dreaded the words, “My mom wants a conference.” We teachers never get to prepare for a conference the way the parents does when all we know is that the parent wants one! I guess that’s a two-way road. Anyway… I would spend all night going through all the events of the past two weeks, trying to find some way in which I had offended or slighted this kid. Often times, the conference would be to ask for more math help. Worry wasted! There were times, though, that I knew exactly what I’d done, and I knew I should have been the one to call for the conference. I feared owning my problems, though. I feared the confrontation. It’s only in my later years that I have come to embrace the conference. Confrontation is going to happen; let’s get on with it. If I let it wait till tomorrow, the conflict my mind dreams up will keep me awake all night.
Would you be surprised to know that the more I embrace the conferences that might lead to confrontation, the less confrontations I actually have. Nothing diffuses the situation as quickly as ownership of what I know I did wrong!
I guess what I want to say to you today is to teach your children that sometimes people call you on your bluffs. That’s okay. If everybody likes what you’re doing 100% of the time, you’re not making much of a difference. Confrontations are most likely when you’re not doing things “like we always do.” So, let your child know that, with change, comes conflict. And conflict can cause people to do things for which they need to be confronted. Whether your child is the confronter or the one being confronted, the growth experienced from working through the issue is invaluable. We should never shrink from an opportunity to grow!