Most families argue and some families have arguments where pushing, slapping, hitting, etc. are involved. No matter what, all families can learn different strategies to discuss difficult issues.
People are more likely to suffer violence and neglect from those closest to them than from strangers.
Three female partners, three children, and two male partners are killed by family members every day in the United States.
Adults who experienced violent childhoods are more likely to abuse children and romantic partners than those who experienced little or no violence as children.
Family meetings are a structured discussion that can help family anger decrease. Families can use these discussions to resolve specific conflicts that might have just been argued about in the past. Families might use these meetings to discuss issues such as, house rules, vacation plans, sibling rivalry, changes in the family structure, etc. Specific guidelines to see if it is safe for your family to conduct a family meeting are listed. One key indicator of determining family safety is the way couple’s handle conflict.
Arguments between couples can be classified into three different types. The first type is non-violent in which couples may or may not yell at each other and may resort to name-calling, criticism, defensiveness, and/or contempt. However, throughout the argument both partners feel physically and emotionally safe. A second type of arguing is called common couples’ violence. In this type of arguing, one or both partners might yell; use name-calling, criticism, defensiveness, and contempt; might also push, shove, and/ or hit each other; and might throw objects in general or at each other. In this second type, both partners still feel physically and emotionally safe during the argument. In these first two types of arguments, both partners feel as though they have relatively equal power in the relationship. Lastly, there are couples whose arguments classify as intimate partner violence. Typically, this is where one partner is trying to intimidate, hurt, scare, harass, and/or manipulate the other partner. This third type of arguing is where one partner holds more power in the relationship and may physically and/or financially isolate and/or physically, emotionally, and/or mentally hurt the other partner and any children or animals in the household.
By providing research-based anger and conflict management strategies in our homes and in our families, we can reduce and prevent arguments and violence. We also believe that ongoing good communication between families can decrease arguments and violence and increase family satisfaction. A review of four computer databases over the past 40 years (1973-2013) found 31 articles on family meetings or family councils. These articles suggest that there are many positive benefits to family meetings, such as enhancing moral reasoning in youth, increased positive youth behavior, and increased effective family decision making. If you find that these tips do not work for your relationship and/or family, please seek support from a trusted friend or relative, therapist, counselor, and/or spiritual leader.
Is Your Family Ready for Meetings?
An excellent way for families to communicate is through regular family meetings. This communication strategy can enhance moral reasoning and manage anger long before it turns into violence. Regular family meetings can promote family harmony by providing a safe time and place for making decisions, recognizing good things happening in the family, setting up rules, distributing chores fairly, settling conflicts, and pointing out individual strengths.
Some families are ready for self-directed enrichment and problem solving and other families may first want to utilize family or marriage therapy in order to decrease arguments or violence in the household. To help assess whether your family is ready to try family meetings, answer the following questions:
Is the parent, or parents, who live in the household committed to using words and communication to solve problems as a family instead of violence?
In a two-parent family, do both parents feel as though they share relatively equal power in their couple’s relationship (e.g. both partners feel as though they have an equal say in decision making; that your partner takes your opinion into account when making decisions, etc.)?
In a step-family, do all members of the family feel that issues and differences can be discussed without putting down members of the biological or step-family who might not be present at the meeting?
In families where there are children, do all members of the family feel that issues and differences can be discussed without screaming, yelling and/or fighting?
Do all members of the family listen to and hear one another’s viewpoints (at least sometimes) even when the viewpoints are different than those personally held?
Do all family members feel that their opinions are valued and feel safe emotionally, physically, and mentally within the family?
Does the parent, or parents, in the family feel that they have an authoritative parenting style where they are able to listen to and show love toward her/his/their children but also set firm consequences and boundaries?