How to Resolve Conflict in Family

family - conflict
November 2, 2020

When it comes to families, conflicts are, at times, inevitable, whether it be in the form of small misunderstandings as a result of varying opinions or in escalated forms of violence. Causal factors for the conflict may be within or external to the family. Again, it is never the easiest thing to find an amicable solution, and this calls for efficient strategies on how to resolve the conflict harmoniously. At times seeking intervention from a trustworthy neutral party is the best way out. Before we look into how family conflict counseling can help you solve your problems, let’s have a look at common factors that fuel misunderstandings in the family context:

Common Reasons for Conflict in Families

The eruption of conflict can result from factors amongst family members or the impact of external factors and influence.

The following are major factors which fuel conflict in families:

  • Sibling rivalry
  • Financial predicaments
  • Medical conditions
  • Influence from extended family
  • Child indiscipline

There are families where siblings belittle each other, which is a major cause of conflict in families. Lack of mutual respect and honor causes discord, and you might find siblings always arguing over minute things in the house. Jealousy might also fuel conflict, especially when some of the siblings are doing better than others. This gets worse when one child feels the other is more favored by the parents than they are.

Another fueling factor for conflict is having financial problems in the family. Struggling to keep the family running in regards to finances can cause friction between individuals contributing, especially when they are also struggling to make ends meet. The struggle may result in unprecedented arguments that cause disharmony in the family.

A family member who’s suffering from a medical condition requires intensified attention, and this may result in intrapersonal and interpersonal conflict among other family members. The stress that comes with the responsibility of looking after a chronically ill person can be weighty.

Having in-laws always meddling in the affairs of a family more often than not result in conflicts. An in-law may deliberately or unintentionally insight a family member against the others, which inevitably causes discord. Such influence may make one or several of the family members feel uncomfortable, and conflicts follow.

When children get to the teenage years, most are challenging to deal with and are generally rebellious. It is a major cause of family conflict when a child can’t hearken to the parent’s instructions. In such a case, conflict is inevitable. The kid always tries to have their way regardless of their parent’s directives.

Strategies for Dealing with Conflict in the Family Setup

While conflict is often inevitable in the family setup, there’s room for solving the differences towards the restoration of harmony. Let’s look at strategies you can employ to quench misunderstandings and restore oneness among family members.

  • Identify the Source of Conflict
  • Practice active listening
  • Be empathetic and accommodative
  • Look beyond the emotions
  • Accept the source of conflict and move forward.
  • Intervention from trusted third-parties

Identifying the source of the conflict is always the starting point towards finding a solution. It is impossible to solve an unknown problem. Once the problem has been identified, some issues can be immediately dealt with, others may take time, and others would require all the family members to adapt considering their nature as with the case of chronic disease. Finding the source of misunderstandings should not create a platform for blame games. Rather, it should create an avenue where the family members can exercise empathy towards each other, which calls for deliberateness and honesty.

All family members should be willing to listen to others in regards to what they’re going through. Each individual should share about their struggle and the impact the problems have had on their lives. If, for example, a member of the family suffers from ADHD, all other individuals should understand that the situation is not easy for anyone and that it’s not the patient’s fault that they are sick.

Recognizing each other person’s struggle, individuals ought to be accommodative and patient towards each other. A parent may choose to be patient with their child despite the rebellion, creating avenues where they can engage in insightful talks that may improve the situation rather than engaging in verbal, which may escalate to physical violence.

Emotions can blind a person from making the appropriate decision, which calls for the ability to disregard emotions whenever in a conflict. A sibling may face unfair treatment from a brother or sister and choose to overlook their emotions, which would otherwise prompt them to respond in discord. Parents may be too emotional about their rebellious child, and this would cause them to do things they wouldn’t do under suppressed emotions.

Some situations cannot be solved immediately, such as when a child is suffering from ADHD, which calls for adaptability. Accepting the state as it is and acknowledging there’s nothing more that can be done, finding ways to adapt is the best way out of the conflict at that moment. The family members can come up with practical strategies to help circumvent the situation in a way that won’t get out of hand.

Getting Professional Counseling Help

There are times where things might be difficult for the family to manage by itself, and help from a neutral third party comes in handy. It might get tough, especially when there are no overnight fixes, and getting help from trained personnel happens to be the ideal option to help the family stay together despite their predicaments. A counselor will advise on how to deal with what is than waging war over what should be. At times it’s all a matter of cultivating patience and adaptability, and these two go a long way in bearing each other towards encouraging love and compassion in the family. For solvable problems, the counselor will give practicable insights on how to manage the situation, highlighting changes that should be implemented to improve the situation.

Kate Skurat

Kate Skurat

Licensed Mental Health Counselor

Washington, United States

Kate has a B.S. in Psychology and M.A. in Clinical Psychology from Pepperdine University and has worked in healthcare since 2017. She primarily treated depression, anxiety, eating disorders, trauma, and grief, as well as identity, relationship and adjustment issues. Her clinical experience has focused on individual and group counseling, emergency counseling and outreach. Read more.

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