The Seven Most Frequent Family Disagreements and How to Solve Them

Many of the most frequent family arguments, as well as human conflicts in general, derive from a lack of skills in communication.
The Seven Most Frequent Family Disagreements and How to Solve Them
Sergio De Dios González

Written and verified by the psychologist Sergio De Dios González.

Last update: 20 October, 2022

The most frequent family disagreements are usually linked to situations or processes of change that can’t be assimilated. They’re associated with negative habits that take root and become patterns of behavior that hinder communication and interpersonal relationships.

When looking at the reasons why family disagreements arise, we shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that they can also be an opportunity for learning. Indeed, the family is the basic social unit and the learning derived from it is of incalculable value in other dimensions of life.

The bond that links your true family is not of blood, but of respect and joy in each other’s life. Rarely do members of one family grow up under the same roof.”

-Richard Bach-

Contradictions, disagreements, and misunderstandings are extremely normal in families. In fact, every human relationship experiences these. However, it’s important to develop and practice certain strategies to manage these problems. Therefore, here are some of the most frequent family disagreements and some clues to resolve them.

1. Changes in the life cycle

Boy with aggressiveness in adolescence

There are certain ages and moments in life when people are more likely to experience conflicting relationships with those around them. One of them is adolescence. This is a stage when changes happen at an overwhelming speed. In this phase, conflict goes hand in hand with assertion and both are consistent central themes in the relationship.

Something similar happens when we go from middle age to old age. It’s a transition that’s not always easy and that involves many changes. Consequently, sometimes, people react to it with irritability and nonconformity.

In both of these cases, what’s most needed from the family is understanding. Frequently, neither adolescents nor older adults will be right, but they don’t need others to point out this fact to them. Nor do they need others demanding a kind of balance that they can’t achieve.

2. Losses

Losses are one of the most frequent sources of family disagreements. In fact, the death of a family member or a loved one has an extremely strong impact on their relatives. It usually generates feelings of anger and frustration.

Losses of something significant, such as an important job, a business, an opportunity, etc., also play a role. No one is able to get over these kinds of losses automatically and they need time to process what’s happened.

3. Unresolved past issues

Family disagreements that aren’t resolved aren’t simply left in the past. Indeed, it’s really common for them to become dormant tensions or resentments. They usually end up escaping in one way or another in the form of hostility, bad humor, distrust, etc.

Although sometimes it’s impossible to find a solution to a disagreement, it’s not a good idea to just turn the page. The best thing to do is to reflect on what happened and find a suitable moment to talk about it and make things clear.

4. Undefined roles

Cut-out figures of the family.

This is one of the most frequent family disagreements and it occurs because there’s no clear distinction regarding the role that each one should play within a social group. It happens when parents end up asking their children for advice, or the children are the ones who give the orders, or responsibilities are misallocated, etc.

As a social structure, the ideal is for a family to have well-defined roles, particularly those in authority. Otherwise, the links will most likely become anarchic, which gives rise to misunderstandings, injustices, or confusion.

5. Illness

The illness of a family member is a situation that can generate many conflicts. This is particularly the case when the illness is catastrophic or chronic and the sufferer requires assistance.

These kinds of situations call for open and honest communication. Furthermore, it’s important that tasks and responsibilities are assigned as equitably as possible. In this way, quality care will be provided to the sick person and no one will feel excessively put upon.

6. Diverse kinds of attention

Diverse kinds of attention generate family conflicts because, in many cases, they become the basis of an unfair and discriminatory structure. After all, a home is a home because each member has an indisputable place in that human group.

Of course, it’s true that there’ll never be total equity, but there must be complete fairness to all. Naturally, some family members will be bright and successful and others, not so much. Nevertheless, love and acceptance form the foundations of family life. They should never be called into question.

7. Aggressiveness and lack of respect

Little girl suffering from her parents' argument

Aggressiveness is not only the root of the most frequent family disagreements but of disagreements of all kinds. Furthermore, abuse is always unacceptable, at least in the life of a person who’s interested in preserving their mental health.

However, moments of aggressiveness are perfectly normal. The problem appears when they become a frequent pattern. The result is often a chain of wounds and fractures that sometimes never heal.

For a family, and any human group, to function constructively, the boundary of disrespect must never be crossed. That’s because it deteriorates bonds and causes extremely deep emotional effects. In fact, a relationship is hardly ever the same again after a disrespectful act.

The most frequent family disagreements (and those that aren’t so frequent) can be resolved by increasing the capacity for communication. This includes active listening, assertiveness, and affection. As a matter of fact, solving family problems enriches our lives and prepares us for better relationships with the whole of society.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Albuquerque, J. P. (2018). Familia, conflictos familiares y mediación. Editorial Reus.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.