Every family experiences conflict in its own way. Disagreements are a normal part of being a family and living together. Family discord is often a result of different personalities, misunderstandings and stressful family issues. Understanding that conflict is normal is the first step in learning to deal with these situations. It is important for families to learn appropriate ways to deal with problems that will promote growth and cohesion.
Parental conflict is common in many families and often leads to friction involving the entire family. Most parental problems revolve around financial matters, infidelity, different views regarding child rearing and family decision making. Homes with high levels of parental conflict often have a tense and hostile environment that can have detrimental effects on the children. A 1998 study published in "Family Relations" found that children in high-conflict families demonstrated lower levels of well-being in internalizing behaviors, externalizing behaviors and conflict with peers.
Poor Family Communication
Another type of family conflict is lack of proper communication. In today's society, many families communicate superficially and don't have time to share meaningful conversations. The conflict in this arrangement is that there are no opportunities to discuss family values, issues and other important topics; this often leads to disagreements. Communication conflicts are also present in families that lack healthy communication skills and engage in yelling, cursing, blaming and insulting.
Parent-Child Power Struggles
A parent-child power struggle can create conflict and stress for the entire family. Having a child who wants to control the parent leads to increased parent frustration and decreased patience when dealing with other family members. The other children often feel that the defiant child is receiving more attention and may start acting out themselves. Power struggles frequently result from different parent and child temperaments or difficult developmental stages, such as the "terrible twos" or adolescence.
Different Cultures and Viewpoints
Some families experience conflict as a result of different views about important issues. Parents who grew up in a different generation often have trouble understanding today's society. Other families have problems resolving parents' expectations for their children. Often, parents imagine an ideal future for their children, which can result in frequent conflict if the children follow a different direction. Immigrant families may experience conflict due to different views about acculturation. A study published in "Journal of Personal and Social Relationships" found that families with high levels of acculturation stress had lower levels of family cohesion and more parent-child conflicts.
- Family Relations: Influences of Family Structure and Parental Conflict on Children's Well-Being
- Journal of Social and Personal Relationships: Two Different Worlds: Acculturation Stress and Adaptation among Cuban and Nicaraguan Families
- University of Nebraska-Lincoln: Parent-Child Power Struggles: How to Handle Them
Lauri Revilla has been writing articles on mental health, wellness, relationships and lifestyle for more than six years. She moved to San Antonio, Texas, from Mexico in 2006. She holds a Master of Science in Psychology from Our Lady of the Lake University.