Family life can be challenging to navigate. As your kids grow older, they will find their own voice and gain a sense of independence that you should be proud of but that can also be a real challenge. It can be harder to communicate with them, and to get them to understand why you make certain decisions.

Instead of always standing your ground and fighting with your kids, try making more compromises to teach them about boundaries, accountability, and the value of clear communication.

What is a compromise?

The goal of a compromise is to satisfy everyone within the agreement. Compromise involves a back-and-forth until the two (or more) parties feel good about the solutions they have reached. This can be quite a difficult and lengthy process depending on the matter you’re trying to compromise on.

6 steps to making a compromise

Stick to these six steps next time your teenager tries to argue their way out of their curfew or your 8-year old doesn’t want to do their homework

  1. Make your case + listen—It’s important to share your side of the story and be extremely clear about what you want and why you feel this way. However, a compromise is a two way street so after you’ve made your case, it’s time to listen to them. During this step, try not to interrupt each other and practice respectful conversation skills (no silly faces, no huffing and puffing, etc.).
  2. Ask open-ended questions—Once both sides have stated their case, asking open-ended questions (nothing that can be answered with a simple yes or no) will clarify your arguments even further. In the case of the curfew, this step would ensure that your teenager has thought about why they want an extension, and what they might be able to do with it. And they can ask you the same question to learn more about why you feel it’s important they return home at a certain time.
  3. Determine negotiables + non-negotiables—Now that you’ve had a chance to hear each other out, it’s time to figure out your negotiables and your non-negotiables. In other words: try to identify what you can budge on and what you will absolutely not give in on.
    Take some time for yourselves and write these things down. You can use the worksheets below to make this step easier
  4. Find common ground—Whether it’s taken you 30 minutes or a full week to determine your negotiables and non-negotiables doesn’t matter. Take all the time you need so you feel comfortable with your decisions. Sit down together and share your lists with one another. Perhaps you’re okay with your teenager staying out later on the weekends but they need to call you and tell you where they are because that’s a non-negotiable for you.
  5. Come up with new ideas—If you still find yourself stuck, it’s time for a brainstorm! Try to come up with about ten new ways of how you could approach the situation and find a compromise. These ideas can be outrageous, they’re here to get you out of your comfort zone. At the end of this brainstorm, you may have found a solution that works for everyone or uncovered a whole new way of thinking about the problem. For example: Your teenager might suggest getting rid of the curfew altogether while you propose a chore chart that needs to be completed before they leave the house.
  6. Compromise or negotiate a trade—If you can come to a compromise at this stage, that’s wonderful! Keep in mind that a true compromise means that all parties feel content about the solution. If you’re not seeing eye to eye, negotiate a trade instead. This will give all parties the feeling of having gained something which is a great way to leave an argument. For example: Your teenager gets a longer curfew on Fridays and Saturdays but they have to be home for Sunday dinners with the family.

Walking through these steps for compromising can help you organize your thoughts and resolve conflict. Never underestimate the power of open conversations, especially with your kids. It will show them that you value their opinions and how to respect yours. Check out the visual below to read more about how to compromise.

How Making Compromises Can Bring more Peace into Your Family Life