At The Fitzgerald Law Firm, we understand family conflicts can arise for any number of reasons around the holidays as well as the desire to resolve them together.
One especially challenging and heart-breaking time where family conflict can unfortunately arise, surrounds the addition of a new child to the family.
The heart of the matter
When relatives are meeting a new addition to the family over the holidays, it is all about the baby.
Families love children and babies. As relatives descend beyond the normal visiting routine, keep in mind they are likely just very anxious to share in all the excitement of your new child and start exploring their new roles in life as an aunt, uncle, grandparent, etc.
Sleep patterns, free time and priorities aren’t the only things to change with the addition of a new child.
When a child is born or adopted into a family, new parents may experience for the first time new and unexpected pressure from extended family. The reasons for conflict vary greatly and are as unique as the individuals involved.
Butting heads over parent styles
Differing parenting styles can create conflict within families. Different perspectives–not only on how to define what is best, but who should determine what is best for the child–often cause conflict that can derail an otherwise joyous holiday gathering.
It can be very challenging for grandparents to turn over the reigns as their children become parents.
When new parents make decisions in their parenting approach based on the latest discoveries in child development, their personal beliefs, instincts or for other reasons, extended family members may challenge their decisions, speak critically or even withhold support during this important time.
When grandparents’ or others’ words, actions or expectations conflict with what the child’s parents or guardians believe is in their child’s best interest, it doesn’t take long for conflict to bubble up.
Understandably, grandparents are anxious to share their vast and–in their eyes–proven methodologies for parenting with the next generation and when their ways are not put into effect or they are not even consulted, they may feel hurt.
Grandparents’ hurt feelings can lead to a barrage of challenges, criticism and what can feel like a lack of support to the new parents.
“We didn’t raise you that way!”
Different generations may have differing priorities or religious beliefs which can become intense points of conflict within families.
Older generations may have previously “tolerated” the next generation’s differing political, social, cultural or religious deviations from their own, assuming it was a stage that would pass.
Likewise, the younger generation may have kept their differing views to themselves out of respect for their parents or to avoid conflict.
Either way, once a new child emerges and both roles and responsibilities change for the new parents, their differing priorities and views become much more distinct to extended family members.
Grandparents may become concerned as they observe these choices they struggle to accept come to life as their children parent in new or unfamiliar ways.
The new parents may grow increasingly frustrated feeling they need to defend and protect against what they perceive as challenges or threats to their efforts to protect the best interests of their child from those they had assumed would be leading their support system.
Making intentions clear
Often grandparents and other extended family members may consider a new child an opportunity to re-experience or even “re-do” their time as parents or, in some cases, experience parenthood for the first time.
This desire or need can be at the heart of a relative who seems impossible to please during this time and who struggles to respect the boundaries and wishes of the new parents.
Unfortunately, families are not always able to work through these conflicts on their own. Feelings are hurt on both sides and communication can break down, sometimes ending in estrangement.
Countless reasons can serve as the seeds of ill-content within families; the above examples are only a sampling. One thing is common: these conflicts can intensify around the holidays.
Besides our own memories and wishes for happy times, the idyllically happy image of “family” is everywhere around the holidays. Families in conflict almost certainly find this time of year difficult. For those families estranged as a result of their conflicts, the holidays are especially challenging.
How alternative dispute resolution can help
We at The Fitzgerald Law Firm, are here to help you work through these tenuous and, often emotional, situations with the utmost degree of clarity, ease, professionalism and success. We offer affordable and effective alternatives for dispute resolution including mediation, arbitration and negotiation.
Reducing the stress and expense of a trial is often the best step in trying to resolve such disputes for all parties. Mediation and Arbitration are inexpensive options to do just that. In fact, it is common for the courts to first check if mediation was pursued before applying a legal resolution to familial disputes.
Likely, most involved parties would like to reestablish a relationship in order to create lasting family experiences and memories, but have struggled with establishing a new set of boundaries wherein the new parents are the authority and advocates for their children and the grandparents are able to step down from this role and enjoy exploring their new role as grandparents.
Mediation and arbitration can be the solutions to put family conflicts to rest peacefully, allowing parties to walk away satisfied with a sense of closure or to bring families closer together so they can start rebuilding their relationships.
Contact The Fitzgerald Law Firm today to schedule a FREE 15 minute consultation.
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