Who can blame you for doing this? Your son or daughter is upstairs – on some sort of screen or other – and all is quiet. Let him stay there. There’s no shouting for now. The younger ones are watching TV. The last few days have been tough and you are still furious about the damage to the doors in the house and the awful shouting that went on. So, leave him there.
Or, maybe don’t.
This is how relationships become more damaged. Before you know it, the only form of communication is a row. No nice moments, no simple everyday interactions. Things have become so difficult that it’s best to ignore him when he’s quiet. But, this is not helpful and results in a wider gulf between you and your child and many missed opportunities. You may remember that our work is concerned with reducing the conflict and repairing the relationship. It is when things are quiet that the relationship repair can begin. But, what about your fury, frustration, distress? How can you reach out to your child when you are holding so much resentment for her recent behaviour? She doesn’t deserve anyone to be nice after that carry-on the other night.
This is where families get stuck. A phrase that is often used in NVR work is Strike when the iron is cold. This basically means that if you want to repair your relationship, move in when things are quiet. Repair can never happen when things are heated and everyone is shouting. Nor can it happen when everyone is in a different room, on a different device. So, when your child is quiet, maybe don’t leave him there. Bring a cup of tea to him, drop in a Kitkat, ask would he like to join you with a Netflix movie. The answer may not be very nice but it doesn’t matter. The offer is the offer. The message has landed. You are reaching out, you want to repair the fractures in your relationship and you value him. These gestures don’t mean you approve of his behaviour. That can be dealt with at another time but for now, take the opportunity and find a starting point. Don’t leave him while he’s quiet.