The term family includes a group of people made up of people united by filial relationships, that is, parents, children and siblings or by couple ties. This system is understood as an open totality, in which all the components are closely related.
Due to this close and intimate relationship, the behavior of any of them can affect the dynamics of the family. Naturally, family disputes and conflicts are part of these dynamics. However, there are different types of family conflict; according to the type of link between people or according to the cause that originates it.
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Discussions and disputes in the family
Conflicts or disputes constitute an inseparable element of living in society, given that it is made up of many and different individuals with diverse opinions and ways of thinking. In addition, a well-managed conflict is established as a means for development and progress, so it is necessary to face it in order to learn from it.
Obviously, family conflict is something natural, since in the coexistence of members of a family unit, with different ages, thoughts and ways of seeing life, conflict is inevitable. However, the fundamental thing is not to avoid conflict at all costs, since that is impossible, but to avoid the escalation of aggressiveness and handle it intelligently and assertively.
Types of family conflicts
There are several ways to categorise the different types of family conflicts. This categorization can be based on the type of relationship that exists between the agents involved in the dispute or based on the focus or cause of the conflict.
- Types of family conflicts according to the type of relationship
Depending on the type of relationship or relationship that exists between family members, four types of family conflicts can be distinguished.
1.1. Couple conflicts
It is inevitable that disputes or crises arise in the context of a couple; however, if people are able to handle them adequately, these conflicts can serve to promote the strengthening of the couple’s relationship.
These difficulties usually arise naturally due to communication problems or misunderstandings. The most common causes of everyday conflicts in the couple are:
- Communication problems: incorrect expressions, reproaches, emotional speech, insults, etc.
- Feeling of loss of freedom and autonomy by one of the members of the couple.
- Try to change the way of being of the other person.
- Lack of problem-solving skills.
1.2. Conflicts between parents and children
- Depending on the stage of development in which each of the parties involved in the conflict are, they can be subdivided into three categories:
- Conflicts during the childhood stage: conflicts usually revolve around the development of the child’s autonomy. In these cases, either the parents are not clear on how to grant that autonomy, or they do not believe that the child is moving in the direction that they believe is correct.
- Conflicts during adolescence: it is the stage in which the greatest number of conflicts arise. These appear when the children are between 12 and 18 years old and are given by the emotional fluctuations or ups and downs of this period.
- Conflicts with adult children: when children reach the age of majority, this marks the beginning of coexistence between people who are already adults. Which usually have different ways of thinking and understanding how to live or organize their lives, so this time is also likely to cause some family conflicts.
1.3. Sibling conflicts
This type of conflict is one of the most common and the one that lasts the longest regardless of the life stage in which each one is. These quarrels are usually held for a very short time, and most of the time parental interference is not mandatory. The positive side of this type of conflict is that it constitutes a prelude to the conflicts that can appear in adulthood, and therefore serve as initiation and learning for adult life.
1.4. Conflicts with the elderly
When an adult person enters the stage of the third age, the changes they experience are extremely important. Both at a biological level, when the person notices his own physical deterioration; as at a social level, in which events such as retirement, the loss of friends or loved ones, etc. appear.
This set of changes can be experienced very dramatically by the person, giving rise to conflicts with the other components of the family nucleus.
- According to the focus of the problem
These conflicts are categorised according to the source or focus of the problem, and although they are described separately, more than one type can occur at the same time.
2.1. Life cycle crisis
Each change or jump from one stage of the life cycle to another is usually accompanied by some conflict, this is due to a series of factors such as new responsibilities, assimilation of new roles or events such as marriages, retirements or deaths.
If these conflicts try to be neutralising or are managed in a non-perceptive way, they can turn into authentic family crises.
2.2. External crises
The origin of these crises lies in the sudden appearance of an unexpected event. These events range from the loss of a job, some kind of accident, the death of a loved one, etc.
What usually characterises these crises is the search for culprits by the person most affected, instead of trying to get used to the new circumstances.
2.3. Structural crisis
In these kinds of difficulties, old crises or events are repeated and renewed, causing conflicts to reappear among family members.
2.4. Attention crisis
These crises are characteristic of family units in which dependent or helpless people reside. In these cases, conflicts appear when the people in charge of their care see their habitual activities or their freedoms limited or restricted.
Tips for handling family conflicts
It is necessary to understand that in a situation of family conflict not everything is negative. A conflict can be a perfect opportunity to learn new ways to solve problems. First of all, the specific causes of the conflict must be identified so that possible changes can be worked on.
Some tactics or strategies to manage disputes effectively are:
- Practice active listening
Fully attend to what the other is trying to transfer, as well as making sure that you have understood their demands and that the other person is aware that they have been understood.
- Monitor how you speak
Using careful language and correct expressions are essential to maintain good communication.
A good way to express feelings appropriately is to replace reproaches with manifestations of what you are feeling or what the person feels hurt or hurt. Likewise, it is necessary to propose or suggest alternative solutions to the problems that have caused the crisis.
- Allow the intervention of all those involved
It is very common that in any type of dispute the people involved take the floor from each other, or that they do not want some of the other people involved to intervene in solving the problem.
However, this is a serious mistake. Since none of the parties involved should be prioritized and all of them have the right and obligation to intervene at the same level.
- Show affection
Despite experiencing a conflict situation that can be stressful, it is important to continue expressing signs of affection and affection; since these lower the levels of tension in relationships.
- Finding the right time and place
Due to the emotional component of family conflicts, on many occasions people tend to argue anytime, anywhere. However, it is better to postpone the discussion until the mood is calmer and the context accompanies and facilitates the dialogue.
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