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...
in one or more people, and...
lack of knowledge (vs.
stupidity) - specially of effective communication basics and
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...
numbing and/or distracting
themselves (including fantasizing),
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, single-parent, 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
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 +
that causes most stressors, and ask your family adults to learn about it
yourself and your family members for psychological wounds, and
commit to a personal
program as appropriate. Invite your family adults and older teens to do
the same, Expect false-self disinterest and "resistance."
Learn to recognize when
false-selves control you or others.
Then learn how to
and how 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 problems.
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
with some energy. Then ask the person in the middle to describe how this
felt and what s/he thought and needed.
"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.
_ make sure everyone
understands the difference between win-win-
_ ask each person to
what they need, and why. Use
to confirm each person hears the others clearly.
_ discuss whose
needs are most important. The ideal decision is "All
our needs our
here and now," Emergencies and disabled people may be
_ use effective
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
and not knowing how to communicate effectively.
teach any young people in
your life how to do this, and encourage them to try it.
Here's an example of
a couple resolving a loyalty conflict.
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?
more loyalty-conflict options for
typical divorcing families and stepfamilies
and/or with a worksheet
to learn how your family resolves these conflicts now.