Sunday, October 23, 2016

Welcome to the Bickerson's

Dear Rhonda and Dr. Cheri,

For as long as I can remember, my parents have constantly fought over every little thing.

If my dad goes to the grocery store and brings back the wrong kind of ice cream, my mom turns it into a war about how insensitive my dad is that he can’t remember her favorite brand. She’ll get so mad that she cries and tells him that he doesn’t love her.

But my dad can’t ever say he’s sorry or just go back and get what she wants. Even if it doesn’t make sense, it would make my mom happy.

Instead, my dad gets mad at her and says she’s being childish. Or he says things about how my mom should be happy because her brand costs more and he was just saving money! Or he’ll say that she doesn’t care about what brand of ice cream he likes either.

It goes on all night sometimes and no one gets any ice cream by the end.

My little sister has always screamed when they fight and now she tries to get in the middle of it and yells at both of them. Most of the time, they ignore her and continue to pick on each other about every other old argument too. My brother runs into his room and starts playing his guitar really loud.

Why can’t they stop it?

Daughter of the Bickerson’s

Dear Daughter,

Good for you, daughter, for being mature enough to recognize that this behavior hurts all of you.

Bickering is oftentimes arguing about seemingly unimportant things like ice cream.

However, conflicts of a bickering (never-ending contention) nature are usually communication problems.

Here are some communication problems that cause bickering and how to resolve them:

• Not feeling heard – consistently: repeat back exactly what you heard (without judgment).

• Not resolving a conflict in the first place: write down the bottom line problem—for example, your mom wants to know she is cared about more than having her favorite brand of ice cream. Reassurance and sincere apologies go a long way.

• Feelings of insecurity – reasonable or unreasonable: A couple needs to recognize the fact that everyone needs reassurance and validation of their worth.

• Lacking confidence in being loved by a spouse: Say and show your love everyday.

• Not listening: Listen with your heart, don’t just mentally prepare your response.

• Shaming the other person to take the heat off your own incompetence: Stop judging - start loving.

Bickering is a habit and it will take at least 21 days to break, just like any other habit. Not bickering has to be practiced.

A good relationship isn’t a fake one that “acts” like nothing happened.

Change is hard, but think about being an example of good communication to your sister and brother and you will all go forward in a better way.

Rhonda and Dr. Cheri

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