We all disagree at times, and we all do our best at those times to resolve those disagreements. But disagreements between parents and children can be the most emotional and the most difficult to resolve on our own .Family disagreements can be based on patterns of behavior and relationships that have been in place for decades, or even longer. They can also be rooted in the inherent hierarchies of family structure, such as parent and child, or elder and younger siblings. But a recent New York Times article surveys research that also looks at these disagreements as a matter of mismatched goals.
A child’s goal in suggesting certain actions for their parent may be to help their parent. On the other hand, the parent, after many years of helping their child, may feel their own goals of independence and self-determination threatened by these same suggestions, no matter how “reasonable” they might sound coming from a doctor a spiritual advisor or a close friend.
These mismatched goals — when parents want continued independence and children want oversight — can be especially difficult to resolve unless the family can, first, acknowledge and address the separate goals, and, second, focus on trying to to harmonize them. Without this focus, continued, or even escalated, conflict can be the result.
The piece noted that Dr. Allison Heid, a gerontologist consulting at Penn State and Rowan University, is “a fan of incremental progress, a negotiation that leads to a more reciprocal exchange.”
Mediation can help when you encounter family mismatched goals. Mediation, in both theory and practice, promotes reciprocal exchange in negotiation. And because mediation focuses on the mutual agreement of all participants, incremental progress is an essential component of the process. While a judge might demand a final agreement, mediation allows for developing decisions.
From The New York Times:
Think Your Aging Parents Are Stubborn? Blame ‘Mismatched Goals