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Because of the complicity of the relationship between people, conflict is not always considered to have the negative influence. In some occasions, Hocker and Wilmot (1991) say, conflicts can provide positive effect. However, they mark that such result is possible only in case the conflict is conducted in a civilized manner and in case the participants are willing to find the solution of the problem wholeheartedly.
The Key Facts That Unlock the Mystery
Looking at the case study in question, one can see clearly from the very beginning that the conflict situation is not quite complicated. Because of the fact that the roles which the participants play have been “rehearsed” not once, it goes so smoothly and ends up with no positive result.
Mainly because of the situation prevalence in most families where the mother has to raise a boy on her own, this case seems so simple and entangled at the same time. The main participants of the sandal, the mother Maria and her son Lenny seem to have got quite used to quarrels under various pretexts. As for this time, it is Lenny’s late arrival that troubles his mother.
It must be admitted though that Mark must feel quite uneasy as well, feeling that he is caught “between the devil and the deep blue sea” – unwilling to conflict, he still feels that his inaction is an abuse to his authority, which makes him interfere and suggest his way of handling the situation.
Into the Eye of the Conflict: The Source
Because of the fact that the situation is quite a stereotype, it can be suggested that the source of the conflict is more than skin deep. It is obvious from the very first time that the boy causes the mother to start conflicting because of his late arrival; it is doubtful though that if he came home before the curfew, the mother did not start the dispute.
Thus, it can be considered that the first and the foremost source of the conflict is the boy’s mother who is trying to control her grown-up son instead of compromising. As a cyclic phenomenon (Meggs 2007), it might take threatening shapes in future.
As Hocker and Wilmot say, “conflict styles cluster similarly to conflict tactics – into three types (1) avoidance, (2) competitive (distributive) and (3) collaborative (integrative)” (p. 119)
It is absolutely clear that the mother chooses the aggressive style because of its relative ease and because of the habit to follow this very conflict style. Another source of the complicated situation is the boy himself. Lenny wants neither to solve the situation, nor to make the conflict subside; instead, he is trying to escape the conflict, avoiding it. Like many teens, he experiences “painful conflicts” (Wandberg 2005, 7).
The final link in the conflict chain is Mike who is interfering into the family business, which is a crime in every child’s eyes. Thus, it can be considered that the mother follow the aggressive style of conflicting, Lenny has stuck to the avoidance style, while Mike is trying to adhere to the collaborative manner of conflict-solving, nut he lacks the experience to mend the relationship between the mother and her son.
Mending the Broken Things
It is quite understandable that the stranger living under the same roof with Lenny only makes the situation more entangled, mainly because Lenny must be rather unwilling to loose his face in the stranger’s eyes.
The boy must be also ashamed of the fact that his mother patronizes him in such a way in front of an adult who is to become Lenny’s stepfather. Thus, one of the probable solutions is that Maria and Lenny could talk to each other openly and explain to each other what makes them act in the way they do. What they all need now is flexibility and compromise.
Wilmot, W.W., Hocker, J. et al (2010) Interpersonal Conflict. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
Meggs, G. (2007) Family Conflict: Its Forms, Causes, Cycles, Consequences and Solutions. Bloomington, IA: Trafford Publishing
Wandberg, R. (2005) Conflict Resolution: Communication, Cooperation, Compromise. North Mankato. MN: Capstone Press.