The Web address of this
3-page article is http://sfhelp.org/fam/lc.htm
November 27, 2013
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This brief YouTube video previews what you'll read in this article: The
intro mentions 8 self-improvement lessons in this site. I've reduced
that to seven.
This is one of a series of articles on evolving and
families (Lesson 5). The series exists because the wide
range of current U.S. social
most families don't
fill the primary needs of (nurture) their members very well.
That suggests the epidemic effects of the lethal
[wounds + unawareness]
proposed in this nonprofit, ad-free Web site .
This article focus on one
of three widespread relationship stressors - loyalty (priority)
conflicts. The other two are
These are specially common and stressful in typical low-nurturance,
families. Typical adults are unaware of what causes these stressors,
their impacts on families and relationships, and how to avoid and
resolve them effectively.
This article covers...
What are loyalty
What causes them?
What are loyalty
conflicts like for kids?
Ways to avoid and resolve
loyalty conflicts in biofamilies and stepfamilies,
worksheet to help you learn how your family
handles loyalty conflicts now (p. 3),.and...
exercise to promote family
awareness and discussion (p. 3).
This article assumes you're familiar with...
intro to this
nonprofit Web site and the premises underlying it
They occur when two people disagree with or dislike each other, and each
expects a third person to support them over the other.
Any adult or child in a family can feel "caught in the middle." If they
support one person, they risk the other feeling hurt, discounted, and/or
"second best." If they choose neither person ("I'm staying out of
both people may feel hurt and resentful. Catch 22.
Loyalty dilemmas are a kind of values conflict
- clashing preferences or beliefs, like "I'm a meat-aholic, and
you're a vegetarian - so what do we have for dinner?
more than two people
depending on the person in the middle.
Loyalty conflicts can occur between people thousands of miles apart, and
may include babies in the womb or a crib, dead people, someone's Higher
Power, and/or hero/ine or mentor.
As you learn to spot and master values and loyalty conflicts,
you'll often need to resolve one or
more Persecutor - Rescuer - Victim relationship
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
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, frustration, and blame. That is, they
lower a relationship's or family's
and hinder healthy personal development. Do you agree?
What Causes Loyalty Conflicts?
Several factors promote these stressors in all human groups...
lack of knowledge (vs.
stupidity) - specially of effective communication basics and
skills (Lesson 2).
Once aware of these factors, people
(like you) can reduce each of them over time. Before looking at
options to do this, let's explore
are Loyalty Conflicts Like for Kids?
Typical pre-teens lack the understanding and vocabulary to alert adults to
their reactions and specific 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 overwhelmed?
Typical minor kids in low-nurturance
families unconsciously protect themselves from overwhelm ("pain")
by a mix of...
distancing from their adults
emotionally and/or physically,
"acting out" at home 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, adoptive, foster, and step families.
Bottom line - loyalty and values conflicts and PVR triangles are
specially stressful for most minor kids because 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 this.
Kids need their adults to adopt a
family-system awareness, proactively guard them from adult wounds and conflicts, and learn
how to avoid or dissolve loyalty and other disputes. Are your family adults 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
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;
learn about the [wounds +
cycle that causes most stressors, and ask your family adults to learn about it
assess yourself and your family members for psychological wounds, and
commit to a personal
recovery program as appropriate. Invite your family adults and older teens to do
the same, Expect false-self disinterest and "resistance."
tailor these ideas about
improving communication effectiveness with
kids, and adapt them to fit your
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
Illustrate loyalty conflicts by having a person tug on each extended arm
of a third person (including kids), 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 thought and needed.
Invite all family adults and
kids to develop a loyalty-conflict language. That can sound like:
"We have a loyalty conflict
here, and _________ is in the middle."
an adult strategy for resolving family loyalty conflicts.
Elements of your strategy can include...
agree to devote
enough undistracted time to resolve them. View this as an investment
in family (or relationship) harmony.
ask each person to
identify what they need, and why. Use hearing checks to confirm each person hears the others clearly.
needs are most important. The ideal decision is "All
our needs our
equally important here and now," Emergencies and disabled people may be
skills to brainstorm a solution that fills each person's needs well-enough
if your strategy
works well enough, appreciate each of you. If it doesn't, discuss
what got in the way, and learn from that.
The most common blocks are
wounds, unawareness, and not knowing how to communicate effectively.
teach any young people in
your life how to do this, and encourage them to try it.
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?