Meditations on conflict

A recent peek into my blog stats showed up this search string:

“killer care bear”

And this:

“vicious care bear”

And my favourite:

“care bears with guns”

As a mediator, I know that a “care bear” conflict style (often called a “teddy bear” conflict style) is more sinister and dangerous than the pastel-fluffy saccharine images the phrase conjures up would suggest.

(Kind of like My Little Pony: Reign of Buttercup Sprinkles, then.)

Seriously, though, being a typical stepfamily care bear – not speaking up, always putting the kids first, minimising your own needs – may have a short-term payoff in terms of not having to engage in confronting conflict, but it comes at an enormous price in terms of withdrawal, rumination and ultimately, stepmother depression.

I don’t know what the research says (or even if there is any), but it’s easy to speculate that a large proportion of stepfamily breakdowns could well be attributable to unmanaged depression. It’s hard to invest in your relationship when you’re depressed, and the normal emotional rough-and-tumble of stepfamily life quickly becomes overwhelming when your emotional resources are depleted.

By their very nature (and not because your family is a failure), stepfamilies are often rife with family conflict. It’s normal, especially over the first two to five years.

But it’s worth paying special attention to how you “do” conflict in order to learn strategies for managing conflict in your family.

For instance, you could use a self-assessment tool to investigate whether you have a care bear/teddy bear conflict style.

If you do, I strongly recommend Self-Assertion For Women by Pamela E. Butler. It’s available inexpensively on Amazon and provides insights that are potentially quite life-changing.

For instance, did you know that there are four main types of assertive behaviour (expressing positive feelings, expressing negative feeling, setting limits and taking self-initiation action) and that you may struggle with some areas but be appropriately assertive in others?

Whether this has anything to do with an apparent reader obsession with plush toys with fangs, I can’t say.

* * * * * * * * *

Less chirpily, my blogs stats also dredged up this search:

“when stepkids blackmail stepmum”

Hmmm. Saints preserve us.

* * * * * * * * *

As well as:

“what is mean stepmother’s day

If that’s a question, I sure don’t have an answer!

* * * * * * * * *

Finally, though, there was this:

“i am lucky to have my stepmom”




Filed under Communication, Family, Linkety-Link, Resources, Stepfamily Life, The Search String Diaries

3 responses to “Meditations on conflict

  1. Thanks for the stuff on conflict resolution. It is amazing that in some situations I can speak up and be assertive and in others I hold everything in to keep the peace.

  2. Great post and great points. I love reading the search strings you discover about your blog. Real randomness sometimes.

  3. Pingback: Recognising (the dynamics of) high conflict divorce « Stepmum Of The Year

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