An examination of four aspects of parent-child conflict from a relational perspective

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Cortese Bernardini, Silvia
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University of Guelph

This thesis is an investigation of the process of parent-child conflicts using as a framework four aspects of conflict that have been identified in the research literature. These were: (1) how conflicts are initiated between parents and children; (2) the topics of conflict between parents and children; (3) the ways in which parents manage parent-child conflicts; and (4) the goals that guide parental actions during parent-child conflicts. A second purpose of this study was to identify whether significant differences exist between mothers and fathers in these four aspects of conflict. The relationship between parental goals and behaviors and context was also investigated. Fifty-six parents (28 mothers and 28 fathers) were interviewed about the four aspects of parent-child conflicts. Findings illustrate that parent-child conflicts are marked by the mutual influence, agency, and power of both parents and children. Mothers and fathers were not found to differ to a great extent. The overriding implication of this study is that parent-child conflicts occur in the context of an interdependent parent-child relationship.

parent-child conflicts, conflict, mutual influence, agency, power, interdependent parent-child relationship