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Tip for living: Building peace and resolving conflicts in families

For Chad Ford, conflict resolution is the hardest in his own home.

"As a mediator, I'm a neutral third party that comes in and brings two people together," Ford said. "But as a dad or husband, I'm not a neutral third party. I am part of this group. … It's always hardest at home because Dad is not a conflict professor or renowned mediator."

Ford is the director of the David O. McKay Center for Cultural Understanding at Brigham Young University-Hawaii. His work in peace building and conflict resolution has taken him from Hawaii to the Middle East to Northern Ireland, as well as to the inner-city schools of Washington, D.C., among other places.

Ford's experiences, along with his personal study of the life and teachings of the Savior as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, have taught him several keys for helping families avoid conflict and cultivate healthy, happy relationships within the home, he said. Here are three suggestions for families to consider in resolving conflicts.

1. Turn the other cheek

One of Ford's favorite Book of Mormon stories is about the Anti-Nephi-Lehies (see Alma 24). After converting to the church, these people buried their weapons to show God they were committed to living more peaceful lives. When their enemies, the Lamanites, came against them in war, the Anti-Nephi-Lehies refused to fight and instead knelt to pray. The Lamanites killed some of them but soon dropped their weapons too. Some were so moved that they decided to join the church, which teaches a powerful lesson, Ford said.

"Jesus tells us to turn the other cheek, to love and pray for our enemies. We take it metaphorically, but I think he means it quite literally," Ford said. "There is something about turning the other cheek that says you are in conflict with me, but I am not going to back away from you. I'm going to stand right here. I'm not going to run or strike back. If you need to get this aggression out, if this is what you have to do, I'm going to stand and take it because I love you. Then we can talk. … (When you do that), it's hard for them to keep striking, and that's what turns an enemy into a friend."

2. See the humanity

Another principle of peace building and overcoming differences is seeing others the way God sees us. Take off the judgmental lenses, whether they are cultural or religious, Ford said.

"See the humanity of each other," Ford said. "Though we may disagree about where we go to dinner or who gets what, recognize that everybody's opinion is valuable. Once we have that, we can actually be creative and problem-solve together."

3. Meet their needs

Once you value the other person, help to satisfy his or her needs, Ford said.

When Ford was an LDS missionary, he and a companion served in Death Valley, California. As traditional missionary methods weren't as effective there, the elders obtained permission to go around in regular clothes and perform acts of service for people all day. This kindness opened doors of friendship and missionary work, he said.

"To me, when people feel genuine love and care, they are open to all sorts of things. My mission taught me that love can really transform people," Ford said.

"The way to peace is to think about how can I help other people get their needs met," he said. "(When that happens), people have this amazing ability to come back and try to meet your needs. When I am feeling taken care of, I have a lot more bandwidth to go out and take care of others."

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