One of the truest quotes I have ever heard goes something like “having a child is like having your heart pulled out of your body, then watching it try to navigate through life on its own”. In many ways, this is one of life’s toughest lessons, because children, especially younger ones, are so vulnerable and it is highly instinctive as a parent to want to protect them. It’s our greatest responsibility.
Parenthood can be a long, lonely road sometimes, where the best parent can question their abilities. However, typically wanting to protect a child is a sign of excellent parenting instincts. How to go about doing it is another matter.
The causes of family conflicts vary but their impact is disastrous.
1. Money issues
“One of the most common root issues for intense conflict within families is a lack of money. This is not always the case, though; sometimes people are drawn together in support when there is lack. However, many couples find the strain of trying to meet material needs to be overwhelming, and this can lead to initial tension between two parents.”
Sarah Hill, Advisor, Mums That Work
2. Family dynamics, illness or death
Another root issue is simple family dynamics where personalities become highly incompatible and attempts at conflict resolution fail because parents lack the ability and lose the desire to cope with their mate’s daily problems or issues. This can be triggered by the death of a close family member or child, or the onset of an illness in a partner that overwhelms and polarizes the other partner. Love is forgotten.
3. Substance or physical abuse
Families that suffer from alcohol and abuse issues face excruciatingly difficult situations on a daily basis, where fear, sometimes outright terror is the daily special.
Family conflicts cause long-term negative impact on children.
1. They feel frightened
Whatever the case, what follows is generally a sort of unraveling of something that is beloved and the safest thing they know, right before a child’s eyes. This can make a child feel frightened and insecure, or angry and resentful.
2. They feel guilty
They can start to blame themselves for the issues their parents are experiencing or they may start to exhibit escapist behavioral patterns such as drug or alcohol abuse.
3. They grow up in a dysfunctional family
In some cases, dysfunction can manifest in lax parenting by one or both parents, because they are preoccupied with their own issues.
4. They do not know how to respect others
An inconsistency in parenting styles can lead to doubt and lack of clarity when it comes to exemplifying how to set and respect personal boundaries of other people – children have a tendency to follow a parent’s example.
5. They may suffer from mental illness
In other cases, the general dysfunction may manifest itself through the child in depression and anxiety disorders or other forms of mental health issues.
In troubled times, try to keep the children strong.
Whatever the conflict and whatever issues parents may face, it is possible to keep your kids from becoming damaged by them.
1. Create a safe environment
The first priority is to keep them from being physically harmed, which means putting or keeping a roof over their heads through whatever means are necessary, be it moving out with the kids, making the current situation work, or moving to a shelter if the first two options are not viable.
2. Enlist help from those you trust
This is definitely an area where a family member could offer assistance if possible either with voluntary childcare, lending money, guidance or shelter. They may also be able to aid in the initiation of outside help from sources such as shelters, medical, or legal assistance.
3. Try not to overthink
If the decision is to stay in the situation where there’s conflict, relax. It’s important to remind yourself that there is conflict everywhere, all the time. While children are vulnerable they can be remarkably resilient, as long as they know that they are loved and safe.
4. Show your kids love
Tell your children how very much you love them and show them regularly with love and acts of kindness. You are teaching them to be loving and generous. Remind your children often that you will keep them safe from harm, and do that.
5. Lead by example
Show your kids to respect the boundaries of other people by being respectful yourself. Do your very best to lead by example emotionally because that is generally what children follow.
6. Teach your kids self-discipline
If your children behave badly, let them know you’re not happy about it and make it clear you expect better from them next time. It’s crucial to remind your child about empathy and the golden rule, to actually explain to a child why something is wrong if they don’t know why it’s wrong.
7. Share your knowledge with your kids
“Knowledge is power, and when you share your knowledge with your child and it makes sense to them, they feel empowered as well. They are empowered by the fact that you are communicating honestly, as well as choosing to bond with them in such a way. They can count on you, and you can count on them. Forever.”
Helen Anderson, Single Parent Dating Entrepreneur
This is an example of a resolved conflict.
“We’ve had a tumultuous courtship, turbulent marriage and triumph journey. We experienced addiction, deceit, betrayal and bankruptcy during our 15 year marriage. My wife, Blair, was shocked to find out that her husband was addicted to drugs and gambling. But she pulled herself together, raised our boys and helped me on my road to recovery. During those tough times, Blair managed to take the lead and ensure that our young boys were not affected by my behavior and addiction. Fast forward to being a year sober and living the life that I imagined, I have my wife to thank for her loyalty, consistency and love. She held our family together and made sure that my conflicts and demons didn’t impact their lives. It’s a difficult task to stay faithful and married to someone with addiction. Each day I am so thankful that she stayed.”
Ryan Critch’ story on Facebook
It’s important to remember, that family conflicts do crop up, and can test even the strongest of family bonds. What matters is how this conflict is dealt with. Whether you are experiencing money issues, relationship issues or a death in the family, the idea is to strike a balance between making your children feel empowered and secure, whilst raising responsible, empathic, and productive members of society who are able to form functional, happy relationships with others.
Out of all of life’s crazy lessons, the most beautiful is love.
Featured photo credit: Stocksnap via stocksnap.io
|||^||Family Court of Australia: Parental conflict and its effect on children|
|||^||Psych Central: What Causes Codependency?|
|||^||Institute for Family Studies: How Parental Conflict Hurts Kids|
|||^||Kathy Eugster: Chronic Parental Conflict: How it Can Be Harmful for Children|
|||^||Divorce Magazine: 9 Tips for Protecting Children from Conflict during Divorce|
|||^||Facebook: Ryan Critch|
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