A father may often find himself on the sidelines during conflict between mother and daughter, as neither may want him to get involved for fear he will take the other’s side, according to psychotherapist Mary Jo Rapini, L.P.C., in her website post “Successful Intervention for Dads Caught in the Middle of Conflict.” What many fathers may not be aware of is that their intervention can play a major role in decreasing the intensity and length of the mother-daughter conflict while modeling acceptable problem solving. When fathers intervene, they should do so to ensure that both mother and daughter feel supported and understood.
If Dad is to effectively intervene in the conflict, it is important for him to know what the point of the whole argument is. He cannot just tell them to stop arguing, as that will resolve nothing and will be perceived as dismissive of the fact that each person may have an important point to make. Father should listen closely to both mother and daughter so that he will be clear on the issues involved, especially in case he decides to have in-depth discussions with either of them.
Encourage Amicable Arguments
If the conflict is controlled and not eruptive, fathers can choose to sit on the sidelines and allow the two to come to a resolution. Rapini suggests that a man compliment his wife and daughter about how well they were able to reach a solution. Allowing mother and daughter to work out their conflicts in a healthy way will help them strengthen their bond and may also promote more peaceful disagreements in the future.
Call a Time-Out
When it becomes apparent that one or both individuals in the quarrel are losing their tempers or throwing insults, a father can step in and put a pause on the disagreement. He can lovingly put his arms around both of them and suggest they stop arguing for now -- since they are both obviously very upset -- and pick up the discussion another time when both are a bit calmer and more receptive. He could even be the one to initiate this over dinner or in a family meeting. When he handles it this way, neither party will feel as if Dad is taking sides.
Be the Mediator
Dad can take advantage of alone time with each individual involved. This will make it clear to his wife that she has the support of her husband and will strengthen the father-daughter bond. Rapini says that a father can suggest alternate means of communication for his wife and daughter, such as emails or hand-written notes, so that they can express themselves without having their emotions get in the way.