Parental Conflict: Outcomes and Interventions for Children and Families

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Of particular note is the book's focus on the growing literature on conflict interventions that have shown an expansion of evidence within the last decade. A primer for practitioners working with families, policy makers, students and academics, it will show how to improve the tomorrows for children who experience challenging family experiences today. A must-have resource for practitioners, students and policy makers alike.

Impact of Parental Conflict on Children – Domestic Violence Research

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Link Either by signing into your account or linking your membership details before your order is placed. Description Table of Contents Product Details Click on the cover image above to read some pages of this book! Webster-Stratton, C. Email Not published.

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Relationship training for children and family practitioners: does it work? Logging In Profile cancel Sign in with Twitter Sign in with Facebook. View January 8, SocialCareElf mgoat73 Great read, very interesting findings. Thank you. View January 10, Destructive strategies for resolving marital conflicts.

This subcategory addressed topics which dealt with strategies in which the couple opted to avoid the conflict or to use verbal hostility to resolve it.

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Avoidance was characterized by not speaking about the problem which triggered the conflict, whether temporarily or permanently. If you do, it hurts. This category involved the participation of 11 couples and covered the description of conflictive interactions between parents and children which were reported as significant or important by members of the couple, as well as the resolution strategies used by them with the child.

It is made up of three subcategories: Parental conflicts; Constructive strategies for resolution of parental conflicts; and Destructive strategies for resolution of parental conflicts. Parental conflicts. This subcategory involved issues related to the description of conflicts in situations of child behavior considered inappropriate by the parents. Well, I managed to negotiate with him that he goes to sleep in his own bed, and comes into ours in the early hours of the morning. The other situations reported included the child doing something without warning the parents and making them worried, as well as not behaving appropriately or breaking something.

Constructive strategies for resolving parental conflicts. This subcategory addressed conflict resolution strategies used by the parents with the child. How would you act if I did this, this and this? Destructive strategies for resolving parental conflicts. They [daughters] grow up knowing this, knowing that it is wrong. He got two smacks with a slipper on his bottom, you know?

This category was evidenced in the responses of 10 couples. It involved the identification by the members of the marital dyad of conflictive interaction in the presence of the child, and the reactions of those involved in these situations.

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This subcategory covered topics which referred to behaviors of the members of the couple, in relation to the child, during and after the child witnessing conflictive interaction between them. And then we get angry with him. And then he puts his hands over his ears, like this, and he becomes sad. Three couples mentioned that they tried not to argue in front of the child.

The present study aimed to investigate the characteristics of, and the strategies for resolving, marital and parental conflicts in families with children. The results revealed the use of constructive and destructive strategies for conflict resolution in the two subsystems investigated, corroborating the findings of other studies Goeke-Morey et al. The marital conflicts arose for various reasons, most of which are described in the scientific literature, which indicates that among the main reasons for misunderstandings within couples, one finds content referring to the time that the spouses spend together, issues related to money, and the division of domestic tasks Dillon et al.

Other reasons mentioned by the participants - such as jealousy, extramarital relationships or the use of alcohol - are also significant predictors of marital conflict Fincham, Regarding the resolution of marital conflicts, the participants mentioned strategies geared toward open communication, with assessment of alternatives and the seeking of solutions to problems - which may be understood as constructive Cummings et al. Destructive strategies involve avoidance and verbal hostility. Avoidance may be understood as a destructive strategy, in the sense that the spouses opt not to talk about the conflictive questions, and leave their quarrels to be resolved by time Bolze et al.

Reducing Parental Conflict Challenge Fund

In this way, avoidance is understood as a destructive strategy when the spouses perceive that they do not manage to resolve their conflictive issues - a fact which can result in the accumulation of bitterness and resentment which crystallizes over time, making them dissatisfied with the relationship. Psychological aggression, described in the literature as the most common strategy between spouses, may be considered destructive. It should be highlighted that there were no reports of physical violence between the spouses as a strategy for conflict resolution.

One possible explanation for this is that it resulted from the low number of participants, or from the fact that the people who accepted to participate and contribute in the study were those characterized by more harmonious relationships. Furthermore, although all couples were part of families with young children, most of them had been together for more than 10 years.

Thus, it is expected that the more time the couples have spent together and in intimacy, the more they are likely to be mature and able to deal with their problems. Regarding the conflicts between parents and children, these mainly encompassed parental difficulty in imposing limits or dealing with situations of tantrums or disobedience. As in the marital relationships, the strategies may be considered constructive as they involve conflict resolution through showing warmth, parental support, or saying sorry - allowing positive emotional reactions in the child Bergman et al.

Among the destructive strategies that involve physical violence, the use was mainly observed of slaps and smacks with a slipper, both to punish and to oblige the child to do something, or to interrupt some behavior considered inappropriate by the parents.


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Contradictory arguments arose in relation to the use of physical punishments, some of which addressed parental remorse on one hand, but, on the other, an understanding that these measures are necessary in certain situations. Also accessed were the parental reactions to the marital conflict in the presence of the child and, again, both constructive and destructive strategies could be detected.

Asking the child to leave the room may function both as an approach for protecting the child and as something which leads to emotional reactions such as fear and distress, due to the fantasies which may arise due to knowing that the parents are arguing. Providing explanations about the conflictive interaction to calm the child, either during or after the conflict, and interrupting the conflictive interaction, were also behaviors reported by the parents.

These strategies may be described as either destructive or constructive Bergman et al. Some participants, however, admitted to not providing explanations about the conflict, a fact which is not necessarily configured as destructive, as the child does not always need to witness the resolution of the conflict.

It is, however, important for the child to perceive that the tense emotional climate between the parents has been extinguished Bergman et al. Regarding the occurrence of marital conflicts in the presence of the child, the couples mentioned, on these occasions, emotional reactivity in the child showing sadness or anger , or behavioral manifestations intervention with the aim of stopping the conflict, the child putting hands over ears, biting nails or crying , as has also been evidenced by other authors Cummings et al.

These findings are consistent with the literature, which indicates that the child, upon witnessing marital conflicts between the parents, may employ cognitive, behavioral and emotional efforts to signify and deal with these conflictive interactions Goulart et al. In addition, the fact that the child remembers conflict in previous situations indicates how traumatic the event can be when not managed appropriately Cummings et al. Goulart et al.

The present study does not discuss all the implications of the marital and parental conflict or the strategies for resolving these for the family functioning. It should be emphasized that international studies on conflicts and resolution strategies in the family ambit are frequent. Nevertheless, in the Brazilian context, there is a paucity of publications on this topic, which is shown to be of social relevance, given that the use of constructive strategies for resolving conflicts can contribute to healthy family functioning.

Thus, among the possible applications of this study for professional practice, emphasis is placed on the importance of providing spaces which allow reflection on family interactions - and, in particular, on constructive strategies for resolving marital and parental conflicts. This is because conflicts are inherent to human relationships and, therefore, to a greater or lesser extent, are part of everyday life for all families. Hence, besides offering support when needed for the clinical practice of family and marital therapists, it is understood that this study can contribute to the development of marital and parental psychoeducational interventions which aim to promote quality in family interactions.

Equally, the fact that participants were marital dyads made it possible to throw light on the specific characteristics of the dynamics of the families investigated, without the intention of generalizing. It is suggested that future studies should include - besides interviews with the couples - individual interviews and the observation of the members of the parental and marital systems, perhaps in a task which involves resolving some conflictive situation.

It is also recommended that data should be collected with the children, considering instruments which are adapted to the specific characteristics of the developmental stage, to investigate how the children experience the situations of marital and parental conflict. Finally, it is also suggested that further research should be undertaken with larger samples using mixed method approaches which could evidence, for example, differences between groups of mothers and fathers, by the time they have been together, age group or number of children.

Bardin, L. Pinheiro, Trads. Bergman, K. The benefits of marital conflict: Constructiveness and resolution as predictors of positive child outcomes. Narvaez, J. Braungart-Rieker, L.