Family Conflict and Support

We can’t escape that we all start and live in families. They come in all shapes and sizes. It is normal to disagree with each other occasionally; occasional conflict is part of life.

Conflict can happen when family members have different views or beliefs that clash. You may have different parenting styles, which leads to misunderstandings and competition; you may be separating or divorcing. Ongoing exposure to conflict can be stressful and damaging to relationships, especially children.

One of the most prevalent forms of harm is emotional/psychological abuse, in which a parent or caregiver engages in behaviour, speech and actions that have a negative impact on a child’s well-being and development. Emotional abuse may include insulting a child or engaging in persistent name-calling, threatening violence towards a child even where the threat is not carried out, and allowing children to witness emotional abuse of others ( high conflict within relationships, especially in separation and divorce).

Common Causes of Conflict

Family Conflict and Support
  • Learning to live as a new couple
  • Trauma
  • Birth of a baby
  • Birth of other children
  • A child going to school
  • A child becoming a young person
  • A young person is becoming an adult.

Each of these stages can create new and different stresses and potential conflict.

Changes in the family situation can also take a toll on the family and contribute to conflict. It includes events such as:

Family Conflict
  •  Moving to a new house or country
  •  Travelling long distances to work
  • Change in financial circumstances
  •  Separation and Divorce

What Support is there?

You can see members together, and Family counselling involves working with various family members to bring about positive change; the focus is on the interaction between family members rather than within an individual. Often several family members meet together, although not everyone has to be involved if they do not wish to be. It focuses on the strengths of each member of the family. It enables family members, couples, and others who care about each other to express and explore thoughts and emotions safely. Consequently, family members can understand each other’s experiences and views. It is easier to appreciate each other’s needs and build on strengths. It is not helpful to include children initially in family work due to the following:

  • High levels of conflict between you and another or between them and you.
  • You think the only child is the problem
  • Domestic abuse

It has to be a safe space for everyone.

What is Your Training?

I am a ‘systemic practitioner’ (I’ve also completed many other training pieces). This refers to a Clinician who has completed Family and Systemic Psychotherapy to an intermediate level. Systemic practice underpins many essential developments in services and training in public, non-statutory and independent assistance in the UK. See About AFT for further details of the systemic approach in action.


Conflict can escalate when people are too angry to listen to each other. Misunderstandings fuel arguments. Suggestions include:

  • Try to stay calm.
  • Try to put emotions aside.
  • Please don’t interrupt the other person while they are speaking.
  • Actively listen to what they are saying and what they mean.
  • Check that you understand them by asking questions.
  • Communicate your side of the story clearly and honestly.
  • Resist the urge to bring up other unresolved but unrelated issues.

Contact me if you need a neutral space to work through some conflict.

If you feel that there is Domestic Abuse and your partner may be controlling, contact Women’s Aid:

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