Who has a fight-free family? Whenever I ask this question of my audience everybody looks round the room: all hoping that someone else will admit that most mornings, by the finish of breakfast time, their family has fought a minumum of one major battle already. There’s big smiles of relief when I inform them the reality about families – all families fight!
In my book, Fight-Free Families I list fifteen reasons for fights that commonly occur in the household setting. For instance, members of the family fight to say their rights, for attention, to guard themselves or their property, to safeguard their self-esteem, for status or for power.
Family fights give us experiences which we can take out into the real life. We 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 that they can result in hurts for everybody -hurt bodies, hurt feelings and insufficient trust.
In most functional (mostly) families, the hurts are resolved. Parents set values about cooperation and forgiveness and the significance of “blood” in “being there” for each other. Competitive siblings mature and undertake their individual identities and let go of their need to compete.
Sometimes, however, in the dysfunctional family context, hurts are toxic and are never resolved.
family feud questions with the parents, who’ve the duty of teaching the difference between being “right” and being “happy”. Children should try to learn that it is impossible for the household puppy to “be cut in half” for it to be shared. They have to take turns. Children have to learn that life is not fair. Life isn’t about equal shares -it’s in regards to a dance of justice and reality. For instance, older children may perceive that have very restricted privileges or more responsibility weighed against the freedom the younger child may get. However older children often receive more status and property than younger children.
Parents who take on a “Joan of Arc” righteousness to insist on their principles, risk the backlash of family feuds where one party sets up contrary to the other to prove the other right or wrong.
Parents also need to teach the importance of compassion and forgiveness. That is very important for the child who may have end up being the ‘irresponsible one” of the family (and most families have one of these, whose very birth order may have greatly contributed with their position as scapegoat). Just think of the Prodigal Son! Certainly, the responsible child should not be disadvantaged, neither if the irresponsible child be rescued from the results of their behaviour. However there is always a method to preserve people boundaries and preserve blood ties if you have a good intention.
The parents have to lead the household towards reconciliation and the kids need to be ready to be lead. When there is “too much water beneath the bridge” – too much proving right and wrong for too much time – the very reality of the initial reason behind the fight is most likely forgotten anyway. The household loses the very structure of its substance. And then no-one wins.