3 Signs Your Family Fighting is Out of Control
Family conflict is normal. It can even be healthy! But if you and your family are fighting all the time, it might be out of control. These three warning signs will help you recognize family conflict that’s become an unhealthy pattern, so you and your loved ones can get back on track.
Why Is My Family So Lazy?
I get it – your family just drives you crazy sometimes. They’re lazy. Or they’re too loud. Or they’re forgetful. Whatever issue is annoying you, it’s tempting to take that complaint and turn it into a character flaw.
The trouble with calling out our loved ones’ character flaws is that we personalize the conflict. When we tell someone that we’re frustrated because they’re ALWAYS lazy, or ALWAYS whatever-it-is, we make the conflict worse. Research from my book, The Successful Struggle, shows that when we make a conflict personal, we escalate the conflict to higher level, making both sides dig in their heels and feel less inclined to meet in the middle and find resolution.
Additionally, parents may want to be especially careful about labeling behaviors as character flaws, because children can easily internalize those statements and come to believe that they’re “bad” people, or that they’ll never overcome those traits.
Everyone Is Lying To Me!
Lying can become a way for children and adults to deflect conflict. Now, lying can also be a developmentally appropriate (if totally infuriating) thing for a child to do. But if your children don’t outgrow the typical lying phase, or lying seems to become a multi-generational habit in your house, look deeper for an underlying cause.
If everyone in your family lies to avoid a fight, one reason could be that the adults are handling conflict in a volatile and scary way. When that happens, everyone else tip-toes around in order to keep from making Mom, Dad, or whoever else angry. If lying seems to be a big problem in your house, make sure you aren’t overreacting to issues, causing your family members to lie to avoid your anger.
Apologize… or Else
Children should always be respectful of their parents. But when it comes to family conflict, it’s important to find the right balance between respect and resolution.
It’s not always appropriate for children to shoulder all the blame for a conflict. But in many families, the idea of “respecting your elders,” can mean that children are required to apologize, yet never receive an apology in return. If you lost your cool, it’s important to own your part of the fight and apologize. Watching you gracefully acknowledge your frustration and ask forgiveness is role modeling for your children, and will make them better at handling conflict in their future.
The end goal of family arguments should be true resolution, not just a child’s forced apology. Putting the burden on your child to apologize to end an argument can be a sign that you’re unclear on how to resolve a fight in a healthy way that hopefully ensures the same issue doesn’t crop up again.
It’s time to end the homework battle and dinner table fighting for good. Recognize these three signs and get your family conflict under control so everyone can be happy and healthy (and you stop pulling your hair out!)