Who has a fight-free family? Whenever I ask this question of my audience everybody looks round the room: all hoping that another person will admit that most mornings, by the finish of breakfast time, their family has fought at least one major battle already. There’s big smiles of relief when I inform them the truth about families – all families fight!
In my book, Fight-Free Families I list fifteen reasons for fights that commonly occur in the family setting. For instance, family members fight to assert their rights, for attention, to defend themselves or their property, to safeguard their self-esteem, for status or for power.
Family fights give us experiences which we are able to take out into the real life. family feud questions learn that sometimes fighting with regard to the principle is essential, and sometimes we are wasting our time.
The family forum is where people learn that fighting could be physical, emotional, and political and they can result in hurts for everybody -hurt bodies, hurt feelings and lack of trust.
Generally in most functional (mostly) families, the hurts are resolved. Parents set values about cooperation and forgiveness and the importance of “blood” in “being there” for every other. Competitive siblings mature and undertake their individual identities and forget about their need to compete.
Sometimes, however, in the dysfunctional family context, hurts are toxic and are never resolved.
It all starts with the parents, who’ve the responsibility of teaching the difference between being “right” and being “happy”. Children need to learn that it is impossible for the family puppy to “be cut in half” for this to be shared. They need to take turns. Children need to learn that life isn’t fair. Life is not about equal shares -it’s about a dance of justice and reality. For instance, older children may perceive which have very restricted privileges or more responsibility compared with the freedom the younger child may get. However older children often receive more status and property than younger children.
Parents who undertake a “Joan of Arc” righteousness to insist upon their principles, risk the backlash of family feuds where one party sets up against the other to prove another right or wrong.
Parents also need to teach the significance of compassion and forgiveness. This is very important for the kid who may have become the ‘irresponsible one” of the household (and most families have one of these brilliant, whose very birth order could have greatly contributed with their position as scapegoat). Just think of the Prodigal Son! Certainly, the responsible child should not be disadvantaged, neither should the irresponsible child be rescued from the results of their behaviour. However there’s always ways to preserve people boundaries and preserve blood ties when there is a good intention.
The parents have to lead the family towards reconciliation and the children need to be willing to be lead. If there is “too much water under the bridge” – too much proving right and wrong for too long – the reality of the initial reason for the fight is probably forgotten anyway. The household loses the very structure of its substance. And then no-one wins.