Family Conflict


October 22, 2013


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By Jane Nunnelee PhD, RN, GNP

The best and the worst comes forth within a family when tested with the care, illness, and aging of a parent. This is the time when all should come together for the benefit of the parent in need and to support one another during the challenge.

Family dynamics are the root of sibling frictions. As the need for caring for the parent increases, unresolved issues tend to surface for the worst. Resolution of conflicts is a true test of character but can occur if all players are willing to put differences aside and work toward the common denominator of providing the greatest quality of care for their parent. There are options for families coming together in the caring of a parent. Options to consider for conflict resolution are:

  • Be direct, upfront, and honest in your thoughts and feelings; each person needs to know their help is considered necessary and wanted, however large or small the contribution of help is.
  • Be accepting of who each person is and be open to a difference of opinion and allow the person to provide the rationale of the whys with the disparity.
  • Be informative –always keep all appraised of any changes in the parent’s condition and issues of care with this being accomplished through emails, telephone calls, written hand notes, and periodic face-­?to-­?face family meetings.
  • Be sure to thank each person for any and all care/help provide whatever the amount.
  • And then when needed and necessary, due to a standstill of minds and not coming together, arrange a meeting of all family members with a mediator or outside facilitator which may be a religious leader (rabbi, priest, preacher), geriatric care manager, geriatric nurse, social worker, counselor, or another outside person that can ensure that each person is allowed to voice their opinions and thoughts. This option can bring reason over emotions that have barred the rational care needed.

There are numerous possibilities to guide families to work in harmony when each person is allowed to bring their strengths, divide their differences, and their limitations to the table. Family problems and conflict can be difficult and damaging to future relations within the family. The options outlined are just that, options for resolution –it is hoped that all can come to reason and work towards the common goal of providing the best, dignified care for the parent. We are role models for our children and showing through example can promote better care with the future aging parents by their children.

Edited by Zanda Hilger, M. Ed., LPC


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