Why Families Fight: Causes of Family Conflicts in the Philippines

Why Families Fight: Causes of Family Conflicts in the Philippines

From the moment we enter the world, they are the ones whose faces we first recognize. In those early school days, teachers would drum into our young minds the importance of each family member and the strength that comes from sticking together. As we grow, our roles within the family evolve, becoming more significant as we contribute to its dynamics. With life's experiences, we begin to ponder what family truly means to us. Some hold their family in highest regard, while others may feel less connected over time. Interestingly, family issues rank high among the reasons why people seek mental health support, particularly in our country.

The American Psychological Association defines family as a close-knit group of people connected by blood, marriage, adoption, or other intimate ties. With approximately 26.39 million households in the Philippines, families play a crucial role in shaping our society. Just as in any relationship, families aren't immune to clashes; and the reality is these fights can even lead to separation. Separation rates in the Philippines reached 330,253 men and 565,802 women in 2010. This then begs the question, what are the causes of family conflicts in the Philippines?

We've identified the top five common reasons behind conflicts within Filipino families based on their frequency and gravity. It's important to note that every family situation is unique and valid, regardless of whether it aligns with the listed reasons.

5. Opposing Beliefs and Views. Filipino families are diverse, with each member having their own beliefs and opinions. While diversity is a strength, it can also lead to conflicts. For instance, if one family member holds strong political views that clash with others, it can spark arguments. These disagreements can create distance between family members and make it difficult to find common ground. 

4. Unfair Distribution of Household Chores. In many Filipino households, chores like cleaning and cooking are divided among family members. However, sometimes, one person ends up doing more than their fair share. This imbalance can lead to feelings of resentment and unfairness within the family. For example, if a family member constantly has to do all the housework while the others do less or do nothing, it can create tension.

3. Addiction. Addiction is a serious issue that affects many Filipino families. Whether it's gambling, substance abuse, or other addictive behaviors, it can tear families apart. For example, if a parent is struggling with alcoholism, it can lead to financial problems, emotional turmoil, and even violence within the family. It's tough to deal with because addiction is a complex issue that requires professional help and support.

2. Infidelity or Unfaithfulness. Infidelity, or cheating, is a painful reality for some Filipino families. When one partner is unfaithful, it can shatter trust and lead to heartbreak. For instance, if a spouse discovers their partner has been having an affair, it can cause emotional trauma and marital strife.

1. Financial Issues. Financial struggles are a common source of conflict in Filipino families. Whether it's due to unemployment, debt, or overspending, money issues can cause stress. For example, if a family is struggling to make ends meet, it can lead to arguments about budgeting and financial priorities. It's challenging to address because money problems often have deep-rooted causes and require practical solutions.

When faced with family conflicts, navigating through them can seem like an uphill battle. However, the way we handle these challenges can make all the difference. Jacob Gibson, a licensed marriage and family therapist at New Haven Residential Treatment Center, emphasized the importance of addressing conflicts in a manner that ensures everyone feels acknowledged, valued, and respected. Here are five strategies to help resolve family conflicts:

1. Communicate. Effective communication is key to resolving conflicts within families. By openly expressing your thoughts and feelings, you create a space for understanding and empathy. For example, instead of keeping frustrations bottled up, try calmly discussing your concerns with your family members. However, a downside to open communication may include potential misunderstandings or disagreements. Yet, when successful, it fosters a deeper connection and promotes mutual respect within the family.

2. Listen Actively. Active listening involves paying full attention to what others are saying without interrupting or passing judgment. When family members feel heard and understood, it paves the way for constructive dialogue and problem-solving. Practice active listening by maintaining eye contact, nodding to show understanding, and asking clarifying questions. Although it requires patience and practice, active listening builds trust and strengthens relationships.

3. Compromise. Conflict resolution often involves finding common ground and reaching compromises that satisfy everyone involved. Rather than focusing solely on one’s needs, consider the perspectives and interests of other family members. Look for solutions that meet everyone's needs to some extent. For instance, if there's a disagreement over household chores, create a chore schedule that distributes tasks fairly. While compromise may require some give and take, it promotes harmony and cooperation.

4. Implement Boundaries. Establishing clear boundaries helps prevent conflicts from escalating. Boundaries define acceptable behavior and help maintain healthy relationships. For instance, set boundaries around personal space, privacy, and communication to avoid conflicts over intrusive behavior. However, enforcing boundaries may lead to initial resistance or discomfort. Yet, over time, it fosters mutual respect and creates a more harmonious family environment.

5. Seek Professional Help. When conflicts persist or become too complex to resolve independently, seeking professional assistance can provide valuable support and guidance. Family therapists or counselors are trained to help families navigate through difficult issues. Don't hesitate to reach out for professional help if you feel overwhelmed or stuck in resolving family conflicts. Although seeking help may require stepping out of your comfort zone, it offers the opportunity for growth.

Families are the foundation of our lives, but sometimes, they can be a source of pain and struggle. As we've explored the various causes of family conflicts in the Philippines, it's clear that these issues are complex and deeply rooted. The truth is, there's no quick fix or easy solution to these, but there are steps we can take to navigate through the storm with resilience and hope. It's not about sweeping the issues under the rug or pretending everything is fine—it's about facing them head-on with courage and compassion. So, to all those who find themselves amidst the storm of family conflicts, know that brighter days lie ahead, and healing is within reach.


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