Chronic Parental Conflict

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Marriage is a lifelong commitment of two individuals who are joined by a matrimonial ceremony. It is the process by which a couple makes their relationship public, official, and permanent. It's a legalized union of two people vowed to live life together, forever. A contract that establishes rights and obligations of both parties involved.

But living together without marriage is definitely a different story.

My husband and I are not a perfect couple. We have had countless arguments but as much as possible, we refrain by doing it in front of our kids. Disagreements and misunderstandings are natural occurrence in any healthy relationship. However, frequent quarrels and fights can resort to saying hurtful comments and behaviors.

I guess, my husband and I fall under the common or normal parents with diversified opinions and ideas but with respectful form of communication in dealing with conflicts and resolving issues.

We have a neighbor couple who's living in together with two toddler kids. This family seems to have been suffering from Chronic Parental Conflict. They always fight about the same issues over and over leading to screaming, shouting and hurting physically. Because of these constant squabbles, everyone in the neighborhood especially the kids are being traumatized. Unpleasant words are being thrown and absorbed by the kids' young subconscious minds. Their confrontations are so disturbing.. so alarming that I even tried to address the matter to our baranggay officials but unfortunately, they seem to have no power of intervention to such kind of domestic issue.

According to Kathy Eugster:

"If parents do not communicate respectfully with each other and do not have a good strategy for resolving conflicts, the result is chronic, unresolved conflict between the parents. There is an ongoing hostile emotional tone between the parents that continues to erupt over time and in the same patterns. Conflict never seems to get resolved. The same patterns of angry confrontations are repeated over and over again with only temporary or often no resolution or changes taking place between the parents.

This harmful conflict can range on a continuum from yelling, criticizing, blaming, put-downs, mocking, sarcasm and ignoring at one end of the spectrum, through intimidation and threats of harm, to actual physical violence such as throwing or destroying things, or grabbing, shoving, slapping, hitting, kicking, or any other form of physical assault at the other end of the spectrum. Chronic parental conflict can take place not only in intact families but also in families where parents have separated or divorced, or have never been married or lived together. 

Effects of Chronic Parental Conflict are as follows: 

1. Negative Impact on Children’s Mental Health

What is very destructive psychologically for children is for them to experience their parents’ continuing, unresolved, hostile conflicts. Research indicates that children are resilient and highly adaptive in general and can usually cope with and adapt to difficult situations such as separation and divorce. What severely damages children emotionally is bitter, long-lasting, ongoing conflict between parents, whether the parents live together or not. The longer parental conflict continues and the greater the tension between the parents, the greater the likelihood that psychological difficulties will result for children such as emotional and behavior problems, anxiety, depression, sleep problems, low self-esteem, school problems and a number of other difficulties.

2. Children Feel Unsafe

Chronic parental conflict creates a climate of tension, chaos, disruption and unpredictability in the family environment that is meant to be safe and secure and comfortable to grow up in. Children feel anxious, frightened, and helpless. They may worry about their own safety and their parents’ safety even if there has been no actual or threatened violence. Children’s imaginations are powerful and they may imagine harm coming to themselves or to one of their family members. If parents are still together there is also worry about divorce and the family being split up.

3. Children Worry About Taking Sides

Children worry that they have to take sides in the conflict. They generally want to please both parents but this becomes impossible and creates stress for children. Children become caught in the middle. Or they may align with one parent against the other, which can be very destructive and unhealthy for all family members.

4. Children Feel Guilty

Children often believe they are responsible for the fighting that goes on between their parents. This is especially true if children hear arguments related to different parenting styles, school issues, or financial issues related to them. This guilt from feeling responsible for their parents’ conflict causes much emotional distress for children.

5. Poor Role-Modeling for Children

Children learn lessons about how to get along with others from how their parents get along with each other. If parents only model unhealthy ways to communicate and resolve problems, most likely that is how their children will communicate and solve problems with others when they grow up to be adults.

6. Quality of Parenting Decreases

Chronic parental conflict increases stress on parents, which can result in the decreased use of effective parenting skills over time, with a resulting negative impact on the children. 

7. Parent-Child Relationships May Suffer

In the absence of severe problems, it is healthy for children and they need to be allowed to develop a relationship with both parents regardless of how the parents feel about each other.

If a child constantly hears bad things about one parent from another parent, the danger is that the parent-child relationship of the criticized parent may weaken. This can also work in the opposite direction, since a child can resent a parent who criticizes and refuses to respect the other parent, especially as the child grows older."

The said family still struggles to live such demoralizing life and the sad part is.. we cannot do anything to avoid them yet. We still have to bear with this dilemma until we get the opportunity to leave this place for good.

You can also check this out... a poem about Chronic Parental Conflict: "Better To Let it GO"


  1. Parental conflict can really cause trauma for kids especially when they are still young.

  2. Yes, better to let go and find another partner that suits your preferences in everything you do. Also, you have to compromise things for some other things. But, if both of you, the way of life's Jesus the center of all, then, as a wife, you'll under the umbrella of your husband's care and love.

  3. I guess, they still don't know each other yet and it's why they have frequent quarrels. They must be somehow sensitive to each other's feelings and let it be acknowledged. I can't speak enough for this but I've been in this stage where my mom and dad quarreled and I just couldn't stand it.

  4. Very helpful tips! I'm gonna take a mental note of this which will come in handy to me when I become a parent

  5. Petty quarrels and minor misunderstanding are just part of marriage , but chronic conflict.. is a no-no.. Thanks for the info about the effect of chronic parental conflict.

  6. My husband and I don't argue in front of our kids for we both know how it will affect our children.

  7. This form of a conflict is what I desire to avoid seeing by my children. I remember when I was pregnant with my eldest, we always fight with my estranged husband. I don't want that to happen when my kids grow up and see us always fighting and still have that difference, the kids will suffer a great trauma that is why I decide to separate with him.

  8. Its true, parental conflicts is not good for any growing up kid..
    The household harmony becomes disturb, and it is even more disturbing if done before the children.

  9. Better be separated than to walk on eggshells all of your life. Don't let chronic conflict result to a much worse scenario-domestic abuse. If going through hell, keep going- move on.You don't need to live in a constant battle zone. Weigh the pros and cons and think greatly about the children's welfare.

    JeniG of Kalikotpepot


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