Family conflict can involve physical or emotional abuse. Emotional abuse can include constant put downs and arguing, criticism, acting superior, minimising the impact of abuse, and blaming others for their behaviour, threatening and intimidating others, making unrealistic demands, lying, excessive jealousy, and controlling behaviours which can make a family feel isolated.
Parents may respond to such behaviours through denial, blaming themselves for their child’s behaviour, experiencing fear and anxiety in the home, sadness, anger, resentment, disappointment, or a sense of helplessness or incompetence as a parent, along with experiencing emotional fatigue from constantly defending yourself. This can result in “walking on eggshells” around the home, taking on responsibilities that should belong to the child, being inconsistent with house rules and consequences due to fear of an outburst, giving in when pressured, or becoming angry and returning the verbal abuse towards the child. A pattern of expecting negative behaviour can be created, and parents may struggle to see the child’s positive behaviour.
Counselling support can help a family to restore safe and respectful relationships through increasing empathy for the impact of behaviours on others and a sense of accountability for one’s behaviours. Strategies to identify and challenge unhelpful thought patterns, promote respectful communication with others, and self-calming skills can rebuild positive family relationships.