As you learn to spot and master values and loyalty conflicts, you'll often need
to resolve one or more Persecutor - Rescuer - Victim relation-ship triangles. Can
your family adults do this yet? Do your kids know what these three
common stressors are yet? Who's responsible for teaching them?
Why are Loyalty Conflicts Stressful?
If you've experienced these dilemmas, you know the answer.
These conflicts stress individuals, couples, and families because they
promote hurt, resentment, guilt, shame, confusion, and blame. That is,
they lower a family's
and hinder healthy personal development. Do you agree?
What Causes Loyalty Conflicts?
Several factors promote
these stressors in all human groups...
in one or more people, and...
- specially of effective communication
Once aware of these
factors, people (like you) can reduce each of them over time. Before looking
at op-tions to do this, let's explore
What are Loyalty Conflicts Like for Kids?
Typical pre-teens lack the understanding and vocabulary to alert adults
to their reactions and spe-cific needs, They may experience anxiety when other people are conflicted ("who do I side
with here?"), and when they are part of a loyalty dispute -
specially when feeling "in the middle.".
Normal young kids are egocentric. Lacking age-appropriate adult
explanations and reassurances, they often feel responsible for tensions
in their home. Sometimes that causes "tantrums" which signal
inexpressible [confusion + frustration + anxiety + guilt + shame] -
"overwhelm." Remember how this feels? When did you last feel
Typical minor kids in
families unconsciously protect themselves from overwhelm ("pain")
by a mix of...
distracting themselves (including fantasizing),
distancing from their
adults emotionally and/or physically,
"acting out" at home
and/or school, and/or...
Unaware, wounded caregivers are apt to make the child the
problem, rather than looking at whether their family and parenting
dynamics are filling a "problem child's"
needs well enough.
This is specially likely in
troubled, divorcing, and step families.
Bottom line - loyalty and values conflicts (and triangles) are
specially stressful for minor kids be-cause they (a) don't understand them, (b)
can't articulate what they feel and need, (c) may feel over-responsible
for them, and (d) their caregivers may not understand or empathize with
Kids need their adults to adopt a
awareness, guard them from adult conflicts, and learn how to avoid or dissolve loyalty and other disputes. Are
your adult doing that now? If not - what's in the way?
Options for Managing Loyalty Conflicts
Some options apply to all families, and others to average divorcing
families and stepfamilies. We'll look at both. Follow the links for more
detail on each choice.
Options for All Families
To avoid or manage all
adopt a long-range
viewpoint and the open mind of a student.
"relationship problems" and adapt them to fit you and your family;
become familiar with
the [wounds + unawareness]
that causes most stressors, and ask your family adults to learn
about it too;
yourself and other family adults and kids for psychological wounds,
and commit to a personal
program as appropriate. Invite your family adults and older teens to
do the same, Being prepared for false-self disinterest and
Learn to recognize
when a false-self controls you or
others. Then learn how to
and to relate well-enough to wounded
and invite other family members to do the same. Help each other
learn how and when to
causing your relationship prob-lems.
tailor these ideas
about improving communication effectiveness with
kids, and adapt them to fit your situation.
Ask other family
adults and older kids to join you in learning how to understand and
spot values and loyalty conflicts
and relationship triangles and how to separate them, because
they often occur together.
Illustrate loyalty conflicts by having a person tug on each extended
arm of a third per-son, and say "C'mon - side with me!"
with some energy. Then ask the person in the middle to describe how
this felt and what s/he needed.
"We have a loyalty
conflict here, and _________ is in the middle."
Reflect - what are you thinking and feeling now? Do you feel these
options would help you resolve most loyalty conflicts? If not - why? Are
you willing to try these options and see what happens?
with additional options for typical
divorcing families and stepfamilies
or a worksheet to learn how your family
resolves loyalty conflicts now.
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