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Family Conflict: What’s Good, What’s Not!

Conflict in family relationships is a common and natural occurrence, purely based on families being made of actual people. People with opinions, beliefs, values, and passions, but above all else perspectives that often differ from one another. But how much conflict is healthy, and when does it become too much?

Research shows that families who engage in healthy conflict resolution have better outcomes overall. When done correctly, disagreeing with each other can be an opportunity for growth and understanding between family members. Learning to have a difficult conversation in an effective way can help individuals and families work through challenges, build stronger connections, and increase family cohesion.

Rupture and repair is a term used to describe the process of having a difficult conversation. A rupture is when there’s disagreement or tension between people, while repair is when everyone works together to come to an understanding. This process is not about who’s right or wrong, but rather finding a way to bridge gaps in understanding and move forward with the conversation.

Engaging in conflict resolution can be a challenge, but it is ultimately beneficial for families. Respecting each other’s points of view, listening actively and openly, and speaking in non-judgmental terms are all important elements of a healthy family dynamic.

It’s also essential to recognize when conflict has become too much. If there is excessive fighting, name-calling, or other hurtful behaviour present, it is time to step back and take a break from the conversation. Consider reaching out to a third-party mediator or counsellor if needed.

No one said family relationships were easy, but learning how to navigate and resolve conflict in a healthy way is an important part of maintaining strong familial bonds. Understanding the process of “rupture and repair”— that is, how to recognize when conflicts arise, openly address them, and work towards resolution— is key to keeping your family relationships in good shape.

Families can work through conflict and learn resolution through difficult conversations. These are not always pleasant, but learning how to communicate effectively and peacefully can help move things forward in a constructive way. It helps to focus on the issue at hand rather than attacking the other person directly and allowing each side to express their feelings without fear of reprisal.

Individuals who didn’t learn how to have difficult conversations as children, struggle far more in adulthood, often behaving in unsafe conflict practices or being conflict avoidant. Finding the middle ground, and teaching our children early, is important to assertive communication in all aspects of life.