Family conflict can be defined as an active opposition between family members. The nature of family relationships is complex; thus, a family conflict can take a wide variety of forms, including verbal, physical, sexual, financial, or psychological. Conflicts may involve different combinations of family members. For instance, it can be a conflict within the couple, or between parents and children or, again, between siblings.
It is important to mention, the term conflict is used when what is really meant is a destructive conflict. Thus, a destructive conflict be differentiated from benign or even constructive conflict.
Often a family conflict involves more than two individuals. A third family member can be drawn into dyadic conflict to take sides in disputes. Such coalitions may be short-lived, can be hazardous, or could become a permanent part of a family life. Regardless, family alliances are common and can be beneficial. For example, parents typically side with each other in disputes with their children. This helps parents maintain order and is especially useful in large families.
Families show different styles in managing conflict. There are:
(1) avoidant structure,
(2) aggressive structure, or
(3) collaborative structure
Some Resolving Family Conflict Key Points
• Be hard on the problem, not the people.
• Remember that respect is a two way street
• Use “I” statements
• Give the benefit of the doubt
• Have awkward conversations in real time
• Keep the conversation going
• Relationship is not a war; not all battles need to be won
• Be easy to talk to
• Slow down the conversation
• Accept and own the mistakes, no one is perfect
• Demonstrate you are working on the problem