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Family conflict - when families fight

conflict; family; fights; communication; negotiation; domestic; violence;


What causes family conflict?

Nothing in life stays the same. Everything is always changing.

You may have been in the happiest family ever but then something changes.

  • A new baby
  • Someone in the family loses his job.
  • Someone leaves the house.
  • Parents separate.
  • A young person becomes an adult.
  • You move somewhere else away from friends.
  • Mum, dad or a caregiver have to be away a lot for work.
  • Another family member moves into the house.
  • You have to move in with your grandparents or other family members for a while.
  • Someone in the family dies.
  • Someone in the family breaks the law and gets into trouble.
  • Someone is very sick and needs lots of care.

family conflict

And suddenly people are getting upset and angry and the family isn't happy any more.

What needs to happen?

The only way things are going to improve is if people sit down, talk together and try to work things out.

For this to work there needs to be;

  • Honest talking.
  • Active listening, without interruptions.
  • Calm quiet voices, not angry shouting ones.
  • Everyone wanting to sort things out.
  • Everyone saying how they feel without blaming anyone or saying that someone 'makes' them feel like this. No one can 'make' someone feel anything. We are all in charge of our own feelings.
    everyone saying how they feel
  • Everyone getting a chance to say what should happen in future.
  • Everyone being willing to sort things out rather than winning the argument.
  • Everyone respecting each other's right to an opinion.

What needs to be done?

  • Arrange a time to talk with everyone involved.
  • Talk clearly and quietly.
  • Each one says what he or she feels is the problem.
  • Talk about or list solutions to the problem.
  • Work through suggestions to find something that all can agree with.
  • Agree to try and talk again if things aren't working out.
  • Write down the problems and what each person needs to do to make things better.

    Be prepared to compromise (let others get some of what they want so that you can get some of what you want).
    be prepared to compromise

Keep yourself safe

If your family is fighting and it is uncomfortable or upsetting, or even frightening to be at home sometimes, then you need to make sure that you keep yourself safe.

  • Talk to your trusted adults and tell them how you feel.
  • Ask if you can stay with a friend or relative sometimes.
  • Our topic Keeping yourself safe from child abuse has some ideas which may help you.
  • If there is violence in the home then you need to get away from it and get help.

Getting help

  • talk to a trusted adultTalk to your trusted adults.
  • Get out of the way if there is violence happening. You could go to a friend or neighbour, ring someone else in your family or even call the Police if someone is being hurt.
  • Wherever you live in Australia, you can talk to people who can help you by calling the Kid's Helpline 1800 551 800 (It doesn't cost any money).

keep safe

What kids say

  • "My brother is always fighting with my mum. Sometimes he hits her. I try to stop him but he hits me too."
  • "My sister causes a lot of trouble in my house - she doesn't want to do her jobs and she's mean to everyone."
  • "I don't like my mum's boyfriend. He just wants to be with mum all the time and I never get to talk to her."
  • "My dad lost his job and now he is at home all the time - he won't do anything in the house and mum gets mad when she comes home from work and everywhere is messy."
  • "Sometimes I feel like the odd one out."
  • "My parents split up when I was really little. I had a great time with my dad but now I don't see him much. Horrible things were said and I didn't understand what was going on. I felt like running away."
  • "Maybe your friends have the same problems as you. Lots of families have problems. It's worth trying to sort them out. Talk to someone if you are worried about what might happen to you."
    lots of families have problems
Family conflict isn't nice
When people yell, swear and fight.
It can get violent.
Scary and frightening
Just as terrible
As thunder and lightning.
But after the storm
A calm day comes
Where people talk
And sort things out.
A rainbow blooms.

Dr Kate says

Dr KateIt is sad when families are in conflict. It is hard on adults and kids too.

Home should be a place where everyone can feel safe and cared for.

Everyone has a right to feel safe at all times, especially at home. Everyone gets upset or angry at times but the only way to work things out is to talk through the problems and decide what each person needs to do to make things better. Everyone needs to do their best to help make the family happy again.

talk through the problems so everyone feels happy and safe

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We've provided this information to help you to understand important things about staying healthy and happy. However, if you feel sick or unhappy, it is important to tell your mum or dad, a teacher or another grown-up.


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