Family Conflicts: Some Reasons why Families Struggle

Families can be our source of joy and pride. But sometimes they can also be a source of pain and heartaches. There may be fights, disagreements and arguments. There may be spurts of rebellion or other destructive situations. But still, we carry on because we are fighting for people that we love, for people who matter.

The occasional conflict among family members is to be expected. Conflicts happen. However, there are times when the struggles cause deeper damage and stress to the family. It is often important to identify some of the reasons why families struggle so that family members can make efforts to prevent conflict from happening unnecessarily. With hard work (and sometimes the help of a Utah family therapist), family members can get to a win/win result.

What are some of the common reasons why families struggle?

Lack of communication. Sometimes we speak with harsh words when “soft” ones will do. Sometimes we fail to listen to what is being said (or left unsaid). Conflicts also arise when people fail to express feelings and expectations and then blow up when these expectations are not met. For instance, parents may be sending mixed signals – being permissive one moment and being really strict the next. Lack of communication among family members can result in bitterness, shouting matches and fights. It will help for family members to develop communication skills – to learn to listen, clarify and contemplate what others are trying to say. This is especially necessary when children get to their teens and start being uncommunicative and sullen. Developing good communication skills earlier on will do your family good during this time. One important aspect in communication is learning to say “I’m sorry” and saying “You’re forgiven.” with equal grace.

Lack of or no respect. This goes for respect for the spouse, respect for a child, respect for a parent and respect for a sibling. Respect is one of the main ingredients in maintaining peace in the family. When respect is not present, spouses tend to should angry and foul words to each other. Children start to talk back and use foul words with their siblings. Respect also has to do with a family member’s privacy and property. Respect teaches us that each one has value and is worth being treated properly.

Tendency to take other family members for granted. The truth is, we are sometimes kinder to other people (even strangers!) than we are with our family. We forget to say the magic words such as “thank you”, “excuse me” or “please”.  We also easily forgive other people for mistakes that we don’t allow to simply pass when it is our sibling or loved one who does it.

Setting unrealistic standards. This commonly happens between the parent and the child. A parent may have set unrealistic expectations that don’t match the child’s abilities or the parent expects a child to take on responsibilities when the child is not yet ready. For instance, a parent may dream of having a virtuoso pianist, ace basketball player or straight ‘A’ student. This puts undue pressure on the child and makes him feel frustrated that he can’t meet the parent’s expectations.

Favoritism.  A parent who shows that he favors one child over the other sets the family up for conflict. It becomes deep-seated over time, causing resentment among siblings and pain to the child who feels that he is being loved less. The words “Why can’t you be like your brother here?” may be some of the harshest words a child can hear.

Changes/Crises in the family. There is a long list. A new addition to the family (a baby). Moving to another house. A child starting to go to school. The children’s teenage years. A family member getting sick. Parents getting a divorce. Problems in the family’s finances. These are some souces of conflict within the home.

These are just some of the causes of conflicts in the family. In the complicated arena of families, there are more. The point is, sometimes these conflicts produce wounds and scars that may take time and professional help (such as family counseling) to overcome.

With regular marriage and family therapy, loved ones can learn how to work as a team to sort out the conflict and get results that are satisfying to all family members. This is especially true if there are other issues underlying such as drug abuse or alcoholism (where you may need to work with a substance abuse counselor).

Finding Family Counseling in Provo, Utah

If you are located in Utah and would like to get the help of a family therapist, consider Mr. Triston Morgan. Triston Morgan is a licensed family therapist in the state of Utah, particularly in the city of Provo. Morgan provides therapy in a safe and non-confrontational environment where family members, couples or individuals can thresh out issues in order to strengthen relationships.

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