Conflicts are a regular phenomenon in life because we are significantly different from each other.
For this reason, it is a popular saying that variety is the spice of life, thus this “variety” if not properly managed brings about conflict.
Parental conflict is a term used to describe the misunderstanding and disagreements parents of a child or children face during their stay together.
However as earlier mentioned, conflict is a normal occurrence in society and it is easily manageable. Although, it becomes a problem where it reaches a high pitch, in other words, family violence or domestic violence.
Parental conflict generally hurts the individuals involved which in turn, affects other third parties such as relatives including in-laws and siblings but most importantly the children of the marriage.
Taking into account the fact that children learn more about interpersonal dynamics within the family, it only makes sense that they learn about conflict within the context of the home.
Every household is subject to some degree of parental conflict, and the majority of us have had personal experience with this type of conflict.
The degree or intensity of the conflict, as well as the nature of the conflict itself – whether or not it’s hidden (concealed) or apparent (obvious) – are the factors that define the effect that the conflict has on the individuals who are involved.
The effects of these conflicts on the children are largely devastating and negative. Some of these effects include;
LOSS OF PARENT
Parental conflicts can lead to the loss of one or both of the spouses either by murder, suicide or divorce. The loss of a parent can deeply affect the development of a child, as children who are raised by single parents tend to perform poorly in class.
Several other variables contribute to having issues in class. One variable could be that they are stigmatized because they are raised by a single parent.
Another variable for their poor performance in school is the absence of the single parent who is too busy working for the family that there is no one to help the children with school work.
CHILDREN EXHIBITING RISKY BEHAVIOURS BECAUSE OF PROBLEMS AT HOME
This happens frequently in unhappy families; where there is a high rate of parental conflict. To relieve their tension, many kids turn to smoking, drinking, delinquent behaviour, hazardous sexual behaviour, and even suicidal thoughts.
The overall stress that a child may experience can have a disastrous impact on their physical health over some time.
FEAR OF GETTING MARRIED
This is a result of the punching bag effects, which usually accompany parental conflicts. The punching bag effect in marriage is a situation where one spouse beat up the other. This is usually done to show a sense of power or superiority over the other.
Parental conflict accompanied by physical abuse of a spouse (which is in most cases the woman) will affect the mind of a girl child into thinking and believing that marriages are made to be beaten up by the husband.
The same could also apply to a male child who sees his father being beaten although it rarely happens.
Children turn to their parents for direction, support, and advice. If the worst of parents is revealed to their children, it will likely confuse and discomfort them.
According to studies, parent-child disputes have the worst effects on kids. Children may develop emotional problems if they witness their parents fighting, calling each other names, or hurling insults at one another.
LACK OF MOTIVATION
Children exposed to parental conflict may also develop a sense of hopelessness and helplessness, which can lead to a lack of motivation to make positive changes in their lives.
This can make it difficult for them to internalize moral values and principles, as they may not see the point in trying to live by them.
HEIGHTENED SENSE OF EMOTIONAL INSECURITY
Children have a fundamental need to believe that the environment they are a part of, their family, is safe and secure for them to feel emotionally comfortable.
Children may develop anxiety regarding the stability of the emotional relationships that are crucial for their long-term survival if the destructive conflict between their parents is not healed.
As a consequence of this, children may engage in disruptive behaviours to resolve the dispute or may withdraw into themselves, giving in to unpleasant feelings, to protect themselves from possible risks.
DAMAGES MAY LINGER INTO ADULTHOOD
According to research, the following negative mental health effects of parental conflict that are not well managed can commonly persist into adulthood.
Even after children have become grownups and left home, the nature of their parent’s relationship can still affect their mental health and well-being.
This might be partly because couples could get stuck in a never-ending cycle of conflict thus exposing their children to persistent conflict throughout their development.
Additionally, children may copy their parents’ pattern of engagement in their relationships, which may further impair their mental health.
In conclusion, Children are very well at risk for mental health concerns, as well as behavioural, social, and academic difficulties, when their parents engage in conflict that is frequent, intense, and ineffectively addressed.
Parental conflicts can have a substantial long-term impact on a child.