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Family Relationships: Psychological Inquiry Term Paper


Conflicts in families are common occurrences since individuals have different personalities and behaviors. The different behaviors and personalities that exist in families occasion conflicts among people in families such as children or parents. Some common conflicts in families include children-children, parent-children, or parent-parent. These conflicts are a result of the opinions and suggestions that each family member tries present and justify as suitable for other entities in the family. Therefore, it is within this context that the paper reflects and analyses my experiences, observations, and interpretations of a conflict in the family using social and psychological theories.

Family Conflict

The experience I went through in the family involves a conflict that took place between my parents and I. In the experience, my parents monitored my behavior and exercised excessive control over my character. My father was the one who thought that I was incapable of managing and controlling my life. Therefore, he monitored me closely and frequently reprimanded me concerning certain habits he believed were immoral. The excessive control applied to me look like an individual, who would not control some affairs of my life.

The frequent reprimand of my behavior was demeaning and looked like a form of undermining on my ventures and daily activities. Irrespective of my attempts to do what I believed was correct, my parents still looked at it with little satisfaction and scolded me for the acting wrongly in the family. The most challenging experience concerning excessive control from my parents was the limit they started practicing on how I spend my time on aspects like homework, playing, and watching television.

The first observation I made was the fact that my parents wanted the best for me and required me to excel in my activities. However, the type of control they imposed on me was not effective in yielding the results they expected, and thus the control occasioned feelings of despise, disrespect, and hatred. The negative feelings developed every time my parents exercised excessive control over my life. The second observation was that my father was ensuring that he controlled the family, which comprised of my mother and me. The need to manage the family compelled him to exercise a lot of control on me in his quest to ensure that I lived up to his expectations. According to McKie (2005), parents need to give some freedom to their children since it makes them explore and understanding the challenges of life. The need to accord some freedom to children is the third observation that I made since I witnessed from my schoolmates and neighbors.

Analysis and Interpretation of the Family Conflict Using Theories

Control theory explains that conflicts transpire in families because of excessive control that parents exert on their children. The conflicts usually arise when superior parties in the family like fathers or husbands practice excessive control over the parties deemed as inferior, who can be the wives or children. Since the children or wives depend on their fathers or husbands for provision of basic amenities, they rarely complain when fathers or husbands abuse or control their lives (McClennen, 2010).

The dependency that children portray justifies the importance of dependency theory in analyzing family conflicts. Moreover, dependency of the victims, who may be the children, also renders them helpless and as a result, they end up developing volatile and unpredictable relationships, a factor explained by learned helplessness theory. McKie (2005) explains that parents or guardians need to love, support and appreciate their children. The control forced me to live and behave according to what my parents deemed as correct and change several values and beliefs.

Attachment theory explains the vital nature of a lasting connection between children and parents. When parents exert excessive control on the lives their children, the ties that should exist in the family break and the victims develop hatred and aggression. Remarkably, children imitate the behaviors of their parents so that they can learn how to live in a society. Therefore, excessive control on children leads to poor relationships and failure to look up to their parents as role models, a concept that social learning theory depicts. Emery (2012) highlights that resources that families have can sometimes lead to conflicts since they alter the behaviors of individuals.

For instance, parents can think that their children are spending a significant part of their time watching programs that may not be productive. Parents have the mandate of controlling and enabling their children to acquire moral behaviors. Parents must accord some freedom and resources to their children so that they can enhance their growth and development in family and society (McClennen, 2010). Excessive control that transpires from the use of resources outlines the relevance of resource theory in discussing family conflicts.

Some of the theories that are relevant in the study of family conflicts and excessive control of children include exosystem, reactive aggression, and family systems. Exosystem factor explains that challenges such as extramarital affairs or dismissal from employment can initiate conflicts from the superior parties in the family, who in turn exert control and abuse their children or wives. Excessive control on victims makes them develop hatred, and hence, results in aggression from the victims as presented by reactive aggression theory. According to McClennen (2010), every entity in the family is important and what affects the entity has an impact on the overall family. Family systems theory helps fathers understand that excessive control that they exert on their children affects the whole family.

Object relations theory presents the fact that individuals start developing motivation from a tender age. Therefore, if parents exert excessive control of their children, the social development and motivation that commence from a tender age will not develop fully (Emery, 2012). Thus, the individual may not be practical in creating and sustaining good relationships in future. Notably, social isolation makes victims very susceptible to the effects that excessive control has on their lifestyles. These effects, which result from excessive control of individuals in the family deemed as superior is best explained in the social isolation theory. Excessive control and reprimand of the children makes them become vulnerable to abuses in social areas such as schools. It is imperative to understand that frequent punishment of children makes them switch into psychological numbing, as a mental disorder that violence as trauma theory elucidates.


Conflicts in families take place regularly because of divergent opinions held by parents and children concerning their perceived moral lifestyles. The most common conflict that transpires in families is among children and parents. The need to ensure that children succeed can compel parents to exert excessive control over their children. Excessive control by superior entities in families leads to conflicts among children and parents because children are the main victims of excessive control. Control, attachment, and learned helplessness theories together with attachment, social learning, and resource theories are relevant in the study of family conflicts. Additionally, exosystem factor, reactive aggression, and family systems theories, object relations, social isolation, and violence as trauma theories are also vital in the study of family conflicts.


Emery, R. (2012). Renegotiating Family Relationships: Divorce, Child Custody, and Mediation. New York: Guilford Press. Web.

McClennen, J. (2010). Social Work and Family Violence: Theories, Assessment, and Intervention. New York: Springer Publishing Company. Web.

McKie, L. (2005). Families, Violence and Social Change. New York: McGraw-Hill International. Web.

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IvyPanda. (2020) 'Family Relationships: Psychological Inquiry'. 19 May.

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