The big question during these times is, “how do we disagree and still get along?” Would you agree? Keep reading and gain some insight and learn some ways to foster good relationships without compromising what you believe.
Today’s blog is a follow up to Nate Ferguson’s message at The Village Christian Church when he taught on how to show compassion within our relationships. As a clinical therapist (in training), I often teach cognitive skills that help people improve their relationships at home.
The main type of relationship that people need help with is between parents and children, both young and grown. There are several paths to discuss this challenging topic, but I want to focus on the main thing that tears down the relationship between children/young adults and their parents.
What Is The Cause Of The Problem?
Invalidation is the main reason relationships suffer at home between children/young adults and their parents and it occurs often within these relationships sadly. A person’s self-worth is taken from them when he/she feels like what they have to say is not important.
In many cases, parents listen to “answer” rather than listening to “listen.” The latter expresses a message that although a parent may not agree with the child, the content is much less important than validating the perspective of the child. However, the moment a young person feels invalidated, he/she will experience a great deal of shame. Sometimes they may feel like they do not matter, that what they have to say is not worth listening to.
The disagreement between a young person and a parent worsens when this type of invalidation is not dealt with. The problem turns into the issue of a young person’s self-worth crumbling. Nothing is more painful for a human being than to feel like they don’t belong.
Research tells us that not feeling like you belong is one of the main reasons why a young person does not want to keep living. Although this seems extreme, this often occurs in homes where families appear as though everything is “alright.”
Another major component that comes up is the feeling of self-hatred because of being invalidated. Self-worth decreases which can lead to a person feeling like who they are is not important. This same person can experience the feeling of being alone because their perspective continually is being ignored or unappreciated.
What Does Scripture Say About It?
Proverbs 11:9 (ESV version) says that:
“Evil words destroy one’s friends; wise discernment rescues the godly”.
Proverbs 11:17 (ESV version) also tells us that:
“Your own soul is nourished when you are kind, but you destroy yourself when you are cruel.”
Lastly, in Matthew 12:36 (ESV version), a great warning is presented to us as believers:
“I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give an account for every careless word they speak.”
Words are powerful and without the discernment given to us by the Holy Spirit, many of us harm those that we love dearly without intent by our words. Further, the harm may be extended to those outside of our family; friends, co-workers, and relatives can also be harmed by our careless words.
Practice The Art Of Communication
To find the middle path, we can disagree with our loved ones AND still find a way to bring about comfort and acceptance of their self-worth. The art of communication is difficult to do well. For the sake of the glory of Christ, I think it is worth taking this art seriously.
I want to share with you all three main ways that you can disagree with a loved one and still validate their self-worth and their perspective, i.e., the middle road is not compromising.
- Validating someone’s perspective does not have to mean you agree with their perspective.“I appreciate your perspective. I want to think a bit more about what you are saying. Maybe we can get together again soon to chat some more about this?”
- Disagree with the content of someone’s perspective, do not make it personal.“I have to share with you that I do not know if I come to the same conclusion you do about that passage in Scripture. Maybe you and I can talk to a pastor about our disagreement?”
- Build trust and rapport before you start disagreeing. Trust binds together those that disagree about many things.“I appreciate you so much and I know that we do not agree about a lot of things. I’m so thankful that we can disagree and still care about each other. I would rather be together than disagree harshly and never speak again.”
Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips! -Psalm 141:3 (ESV)