Handling Conflict In My Family Essay

1158 words - 5 pages

Our first experiences with communication are with our immediate family. The relationships with our family members are the most crucial for us to maintain and among the most difficult. Sharing a living space means tension and conflict regardless of the persons occupying it. Conflict can be approached in a number of ways with pros and cons attached to each. It is important to remember that conflict styles and communication climates can change within a group. I say this because they most defiantly changed within my family over the past few years. My family had dysfunctional ways of handling conflict and these led me to adapt different conflict approaches.
I'm the oldest child in a family of four by a significant margin. Because of the significant age difference, my experience was very different from my brothers'. While I was living there, the competing conflict style was dominant in our household. The overall communication climate was defensive and disconfirming. My parents had an authoritarian parenting style but their rules were generally fair so my brothers and I minded. But when I saw a rule or decision as unfair, conflict arose. My parents believed that being the guardian was all the justification they needed for anything. There weren't any problems with this when I was younger but as I aged, I questioned the reasons behind the rules and decisions I had to live by. In high school I wouldn't follow their instructions if I couldn't see them as being justified. If I questioned why I had to do something and it was met with an explanation, there were no problems. This was as close to a rebellious phase as I've ever gotten. But my parents wouldn't meet my questions with explanations, just responses such as “because we said so.”
Since I had decided that that wasn't a good enough answer, I wouldn't respond. The conflict would continue and often small problems turned into month-long ordeals. One such conflict arose about grades. All four of us know what is expected of us in school and what the acceptable range of grades were. All three of my brothers had at least one D on their report cards, while I had maintained a C average. Our parents called a family meeting at which they explained that for the next four weeks we would be restricted to one hour of television per day and only after our homework was done during the school week. I protested and argued that because my grades were within the range deemed acceptable to them, this new rule shouldn't apply to me. They countered that I could stand to improve my grades also and that it wasn't a punishment. I said they must be confused about the definition and that it wasn't fair; the discussion with something like “We decide what’s fair and we make the decisions.” When I failed to change their minds, I did what I wanted anyway. I wasn't hiding it and when I was caught I just repeated my original argument. This conflict ended up in a cause and response loop. They weren't...

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