From Dr. Jane's Notebook

Family Conflict

As human beings, our families are very important to us. Like "pack" animals, we relate to each other according to very specific roles; but unique to our human condition, we are vulnerable when it comes to the spoken word.

Humans have the need to resolve conflict. Most us cannot stand to "be in trouble" with our loved ones. We have a low tolerance for unfinished business, and experience considerable anxiety until matters are straightened out.

If you've ever gotten into a family conflict, you may have noticed the immediate twinges of pain and distress. When harsh words are exchanged, they cut deeply and leave scars. However, these conflicts need not be a "dead end". Like navigating dangerous waters, it is important to take careful and immediate action.

Whenever we love people, there is an underlying fear of loss. For this reason, it is sometimes difficult to be open, assertive, objective and straight-forward. We don't want to hurt our loved ones, but disguising our feelings is a more painful alternative. Only when we are free to speak our minds can we enjoy our relationships in a truly open and loving way.

When conflicts are resolved well, people feel closer to each other. The positive side of fighting and making-up, is the closeness that is achieved when people open up to each other. Although it is often a painful and tearful experience, it is possible for everyone to come out a "winner".

ęCopyright, 1990, 1995, Jane R. Rosen-Grandon. All rights reserved.

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Last Updated September 27, 1998 by Gary M. Grandon, Ph.D.