Handling Conflict in My Family

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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... ... middle of paper ... ...tyles in my family affected my choice of strategies immensely. The conflicts with my parents which plagued my high school years provided me with an example of exactly what not to do. In the same way, when my brothers reached adolescence, my parents implemented a different approach as well. While they aren't required to, they explain their reasoning behind their decisions and occasionally putting minor decisions up to a vote and asking for input on bigger decisions, such as where to go on vacation. I'm often envious of the experience my brothers are having compared to how mine was. At the same time, my conflict experience with my parents was a valuable learning experience for all of us. I'm very satisfied with my current conflict style, not only has it improved my skills in conflict resolution, it’s also improved my communication and listening skills overall.
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