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Advice for NY Parents to “Take Five” and Fight Less

September 28, 2010

NEW YORK - Five minutes doesn't sound like much, but it can mean the difference between repeating an argument you've had many times before, or changing course. Experts say improving parent-to-parent communication not only saves marriages, it also helps children learn about interacting with the world from watching their parents at home.

Author and New York family law attorney Laurie Puhn says for couples, two thirds of squabbles are repeat arguments about topics that get 'recycled' – but not resolved. In such cases, she suggests taking five minutes to decide if this is an issue that really impacts you.

"In those moments where a partner makes a mistake, if it doesn't affect us, then don't use what I call 'fight lines' and say, 'You shouldn't have done that, why did you do that, I told you so.' What's building our relationship up or down is based on the words that we choose every day."

Puhn says it can be just as bad for couples to avoid fights at all costs, because some arguments need to happen. The important thing, she says, is to really listen to what your partner is saying. Sometimes, she adds, you need to understand that you simply don't agree.

Karen Horowitz, director of the Parenting Resource Network at the Friedberg Jewish Community Center, agrees it is critical for parents to learn better ways to communicate. It not only helps their marriage, she says, but good communication skills also get passed on to children, as well.

"That goes a long way towards making life a whole lot easier for them in the outside world, if they know the right way to speak, the right tone of voice, the words to use - and you're modeling that for your child when you learn how to do this."

On October 12 at 7:30 p.m., the Parenting Resource Network and Long Island Parent Magazine co-host a free event at the Friedberg Center, 15 Neil Court, Oceanside. Parents and expecting couples will hear from Laurie Puhn and get a free copy of her new book, "Fight Less, Love More: 5-Minute Conversations to Change Your Relationship without Blowing Up or Giving In." Pre-registration is requested at

Mike Clifford, Public News Service - NY