Have you resolved to laugh more together as a family? Or maybe your resolution is to find time to really talk with each other. Perhaps it’s to fight less, or to work through conflict in a healthier way.

These are great resolutions that can make a difference, but they are only wishful thinking without a plan.

Recently I saw a family fight crop up on my Facebook feed. I don’t know this family very well, but if you dug deep enough you found a mom who wanted time with her young adult children. If you dug deep enough you found teens who wanted to talk, but not necessarily fight with their mom–especially in the public forum of Facebook.

Perhaps this mom’s resolution is to spend quality time with her children. Far from getting what she wants, she’s creating the opposite effect by her actions and attitude.

Let’s look at a few resolutions you might have made for your relationship with your teen or young adult and a plan to get there in 2012.

Resolution #1 – To fight less and heal our relationship

The Plan: Let’s begin by answering some questions that only you can answer:

  1. Do I treat my child in the same way I want to be treated?
  2. Do I go in guarded or defensive?
  3. When was the last time I gave my child a sincere compliment or word of encouragement?
  4. Do I hold past issues/fights/grudges against my teen or young adult?
  5. Am I praying for my relationship with my child and for my child?

Action Step: Fighting takes two. Perhaps you are thinking, “But if I don’t fight, he or she’ll run over me.” My response is, “how is that working for you?” Has it healed your relationship? Has it helped you work through the conflict? And most importantly, why are you spending so much energy trying to fix someone else when the only person you can change is you?

Fighting leads to words that divide and actions that splinter a relationship. Rather than fight, make a plan. Write down those things that are not acceptable in your family. It maybe hurtful words or disrespect (clearly define that and allow for healthful communication). Then come up with appropriate and reasonable consequences. Share those as a family. The rules aren’t one sided. If respect is key in the Eller family, then as moms we don’t resort to unkind or slamming words out of anger. Then stick to those family guidelines and consequences.

This won’t be easy at first because if your young adult or teen is familiar with fighting, it will take a little time to realize that mom has stopped engaging in a futile war of words.

The last step: Now that you are dealing with the issues or behavior separately, focus on the person standing in front of you. She’s valuable. He’s marked by God as a man of purpose. Pray for that person. Speak in love to that person. Encourage her. Leave notes to him that say you believe in him.

It’s key that we separate disciplining (training/encouraging/shaping) our teen from the child that God has placed in our hearts and homes.

Tomorrow we’ll focus on Resolutions #2 and #3 – I want to encourage my child in his faith AND I want to let my child grow up.