Communication key to keeping family conflicts in check

Andrea Castro, Staff Writer

Emily’s parents are overprotective and don’t trust her to go out with friends on weekends.  John’s parents are always working so he rebels and never listens.  Sarah’s parents want her to go into the medical field, but she wants to major in art.  Brian is having trouble adjusting to his parents’ divorce, hindering his relationship with both of his parents.

These are all examples of common problems that families tend to deal with on an everyday basis.  Many families deal with daily conflict, misbehavior, abuse and neglect.  Just as there are many different types of families, there are multiple ways to solve issues that occur within a family.  Family dynamics are the different ways or systems in which families function or deal with problems.

Family dynamics expert Elvira Aletta, author of “What Makes a Family Functional VS Dysfunctional”,says, “The study of family dynamics, family therapy and treatment are complex and a whole field of psychology in itself.”  Although she admits she doesn’t have all the answers, her training has taught her one thing: “no family is perfect.”

Some common problems that tend to surface frequently among family members are grade maintenance, money issues, overprotective parents, discipline problems, divorce adjustments and non-communication skills. If a family doesn’t have a strategy for addressing these concerns, then these are exactly the kinds of problems that can tear the family apart.

Overprotective parents are frequently an issue with teenagers.

“Socially, I don’t get out much because of my parents’ protectiveness; my dad works a lot and my mom is busy sometimes,” junior Dolce Rojas-Ramirez said.  “In order to resolve issues like that, we usually have a family prayer or a family discussion, then we go out and have fun to ease up any tension.  It helps us to build up trust and makes us stronger.”

Family discussions can be helpful in overcoming certain problems and situations. Talking and actually coming up with a solution to the problem helps to avoid certain situations that would just end up resurfacing later.

“A lot of the time my mom ignores me and just doesn’t listen to me,” junior Camille Crawford said. “Another problem that my family has is lack of communication.  Sometimes we misinterpret actions and due to no communication it causes my family not to get along.”

However, not everyone believes in the method of family discussions to settle disagreements.  Some people may take the approach of sidestepping the issue at hand and would prefer to sweep it under the rug.  Some families tend to think that it is better to avoid an issue and pretend it isn’t there rather than confronting a family member about it.

“I have a single parent family — it’s just me, my mom, and my two younger siblings,” Crawford said.  “We usually let an issue blow over because some issues are just too hard to address.”

Because many kids have families where the parents are divorced, have remarried and had more kids or introduced new kids in the picture, there are adjustment problems or relational issues that can result in division between families.

“I’m the oldest of five kids, including two half siblings,” sophomore Chloe Johnson said.  “A big problem for me is that my mom and stepmom don’t exactly get along very well.  Things are majorly different at my dad’s house than my mom’s.  My mom’s side of the family tends to ignore problems; they act like nothing ever happened.  At my dad’s house, we communicate and it always solves our problems and it gives me a better relationship with my parents.”

Every family is made up of different types of people, with different types of needs, different expectations, and different behaviors.  Not every family is going to have the same method of solving personal issues, and that is the exact purpose of family dynamics.  Try to never leave an issue unsolved, because sometimes it’s important to talk about issues rather than bottle them up.

When having family talks, try to understand the opposing person’s side of the story, and be open to what is said.  Last but not least, always have family memories that can be looked back on for encouragement, and try to form bonds with every member of the family.