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Dad, can we talk?

by Santino Chavez-Hudson

Pages 2 and 3 of 4

Dad, can I talk to you?
Hello I am Matthew. I live with my Dad, he is a single parent and tries his best to with me. I notice around the beginning of the month he is stressed so I try to stay away from home.
Tuesday was November 1st; I texted Dad to let him know that I was going to a friend’s house after practice. Dad responded with, “Okay, don’t be home too late.” When I got home at 11:30 my dad was furious and scolded me, “You can be so disrespectful. I told you not to be home too late.” I walked upstairs frustrated and slammed the door.  
That night I had time to think about it and I really wanted to talk to my dad and explain, I was just trying to help by staying away. I know it was a school night and I probably could have asked him, "what is too late?", that would have avoided this whole thing, maybe? The next morning, I asked my dad, can we talk?
Dad and I had a great conversation. I told him I feel stressed when you are stressed. I explained to him, I noticed his stress level is highest at the beginning of the month. I apologized for staying out too late the night before. I asked if he would perhaps tell me what time he would like me to be home going forward.
My dad said he actually heard me and understood why I stayed away. He apologized for stressing me out and explained that the monthly bills are increasing, especially all my extra sports activities. He wants me to have all the options I deserve and be a kid as long as possible. He was trying to do everything himself.
We both decided I could get a weekend job to help and going forward I would come home no later than 9:30PM on a school night.
Now that I know what was stressing him out, I know we can work together and avoid this in the future.
Once we determined what the conflict was actually about.
I could explain how I felt using I-statements rather than you-statements. Using the I-statement I could own my feelings and emotions without placing blame on him.  
We both actively listened to how the other person feels without judgement and tried to understand each other's points of view. After we both heard each other we both realized we could do things differently.
We both took responsibility for own actions.
We worked together to find a solution that’s acceptable to everyone involved. This may take some compromising.
I feel that apologizing and forgiving each other was essential. We both learned from the conflict and are now able to move on.

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