Child Parent Conflict and Academic Performance

Education and family plays a major role in the psychological development of a child. Parent- child relationships are unique, but vary in complexity (Barber, 1994); however, the universal element among all relationships is conflict. Child-parent conflict is defined as a struggle, or trial of strength between a child (defined in my research paper as an individual under the age of 18) and their guardian(s). There are many different conflicts that may arise from different situations, different sources, and all of which have different outcomes.

Several psychological problems may arise as a consequence of interrelationships between children and parents; some of which include physical and emotional stress, anxiety, etc. Child-parent conflicts cause the decrease in academic performance among young adults as a result from many negative outcomes, such as stressors, anger, and anxiety. The nature of such conflicts resides in diverse sets of sources some of which include family structure and parental dominance, which cause consequences in a child’s well-being, such as violence and stress.

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Background Information

Several structural changes have occurred in relation to family life and marriages in American families over the past three decades (Demo, 1992). Family scholars have empirically documented that rapidly changing values, social roles, behavioral patterns, and household arrangements which have negatively influenced child-parent relations (Demo, 1992). Demo conducts his research to lay out evidence on how child-parent relations have changed by examining structural changes in living arrangements and by gearing his research towards the effects of child-parent interaction and parental employment.

According to Demo the negative consequences attributed to divorce, single-parent family structure, and maternal employment has caused the decrease in the well-being of American children. Demo’s proof assures that academic performance has dropped as a result of these structural changes in family between 1960 and 1980. Demo’s research portrays strong reinforcement with enough empirical data on the topic of the evolution of family structure. Through a psychological perspective and in addition to these academic affects, child-parent conflicts cause consequences on the child which may be internal or external.

Stress is a consequence of child-parent conflict and it is necessary to know more about its implication on an individual. The fight-flight response can be triggered easily during the high periods of stress causing physiological arousal, increase in heart rate, blood pressure, secretion, respiration, hormones excitement, which prepares the body to deal with an impounding threat (Plotnik, 1999). This confirming that stress has a physical affect on the body; according to the general adaptation syndrome stress goes through a series of three stages; the alarm stage, the resistance stage, and the exhaustion stage (Plotnik, 1999).

The situational stressors examine frustration, burnout, and interpersonal violence (Plotnik, 1999). Burnout is a common affect among students who experience high levels of stress. For these reasons, there are many internal and external consequences inflicted upon the child which result from conflict and which affect different factors, education being an important factor of a child. Nature of Child-Parent Conflict Sources of Conflict Conflicts have specific sources from which they arise; however, each relationship is affected by diverse sets of sources. According to Barber, conflict comprises of different levels of intensity.

He examines diverse categories of conflict which arise between child and parent. Barber conducts a study on 1,828 White, Black and Hispanic families with adolescents and reports his findings on personal and social factors related to variations in conflict. The strength of Barber’s findings is seen through his investigation on a large population with diverse cultural backgrounds so as to permit an evaluation of whether or not child-parent conflict is similar across cultures; however, little investigation on the personal characteristics of family members is done, reflecting the author’s weakness in his report.

It is reported that conflict transpired habitually over everyday matters such as chores rather than substantive issues, such as, sex and drugs. The reason some families are more conflicted with others may have to do with the personal characteristics of the participants in the conflict (Barber, 1994). For this reason, given the same topic of discussion, one family will argue more than another keeping in mind personal experience and perspective. This area of inquiry is important because of consistent associations between conflicted family interaction and several forms of externalized and internalized family problems (Barber, 1994).

Every family is different and is affected by different sources of conflict, some of which include family structure and/or parental dominance. As mentioned before, familial structural changes have come about over the past three decades resulting in changing values, social roles, behavioral patterns, and household arrangements which have negatively influence parent-child relations (Demo, 1992). Family patterns have changed through general erosions of single-parent families, maternal employment, and dual-earner marriages.

The changes in family patterns show how we have evolved as a society from the ‘traditional’ living arrangements which use to consist of a working father, housewife, and the children (Demo, 1994). According to Demo, single parents are less involved in their child’s school work, exert little parental influence, and find it more difficult to supervise and discipline their children. These are considered sources of conflict which causes higher levels of deviant behavior and increases conflict amongst families.

Everyday employed mothers, reportedly, spend less than 4 hours with their children, while in all family types, fathers average lower than mothers at 2. 5 hours with their children (Demo, 1992). Lack of parental supervision and control, marital conflict, and family violence are patterns found in many single-parent families (Demo, 1992). In this case study, evolution has impact our society in a negative manner and will open many eyes to the benefits of the traditional household. Parental dominance is defined as a guardian having the control or power over an individual.

According to Nimkoff, irritation and tension can result from a family which consists of a superior-inferior relationship between parent and child. When a parent reveals their supremacy and uses it to dominate and dictate to their children, parental dominance comes into effect as it may trigger children to rebel against their parents. In effect parental dominance remains to be a source of conflict. This status inequality makes a child subject to his/her parents and the parent, a leader. Parental control manifests itself in two different forms, physical superiority and survival superiority.

Physical superiority is an object of size and strength compared to the inferior while survival superiority refers to the parent’s demand over essentials for the maintenance of life. A child’s culture is also called to mind when discussing parental dominance. Parental power determines, to a considerable extent, such matters as the culture traits which the child will take on from the parent (Nimkoff, 1931). The points that the author uses to backup his thesis are strong and reflect the strength in his article; however it is lacking empirical data which is usually a form of evidence a study has been conducted.

The lack of empirical data suggests the weakness of the article. Consequences of Child-Parent Conflict The consequences that arise from these conflicts are different in types and intensity. The psychological response to a condition that threatens and challenges an individual requires some form of adaptation or adjustment. The consequences of these conflicts are that they can distract an individual from their focus and lead to an emotional state which ranges in intensity from mild irritation to intense fury and rage (Plotnik, 1999).

According to Vandewater and Luster a few consequences in a child’s well-being include stress and violence. A child’s well-being is defined as a child’s state characterized by health. According to Vandewater, parental conflict influences children’s well-being regardless of family structure; however keeping in mind, family structure remains to be a source of conflict. Parental dominance which exists between child-parent, may be viewed as extending to three general fields, the physical, the psychological, and the social (Nimkoff, 1931).

According to Nimkoff, in extreme cases child-parent conflict may lead to alienation, which parallels to stress, which can be acute or chronic, also occurring in isolation (Plotinik, 1999). Stress is a leading consequence to any sort of conflict which usually leads to anger. Plotnik states that anger increases in blood pressure, heart rate and the levels of adrenaline and noradrenalin. There are types of anger “active” and “passive”. The “active” emotion is when a person, when angry lashes out, with or without justification.

The second type of anger is “passive” emotion; silent sulking, passive-aggressive behavior and tension characterize it (Plotnik, 1999). Most young teens typically exhibit passive emotion while older teens typically display active emotion. Cook-Cottone explains that 25% of children experience stress by the age of 16. Stress which may reside from school or other external forces, is the main factor which contributes to academic performance. Violence is another consequence which may arise through conflict. Some conflicts that occur are physical, emotional, and/or sexual abuse.

Physical abuse is the second most recurrently reported form of child abuse account for 25% of all cases of child abuse (Barber, 1994). Abuse can result in many types of psychological disorders. It may also be a source of child-parent conflict as while parents play a dominant role in the responsibility of a child, through role play a child may mimic their parents fighting, causing aggravation. Researchers found that parents who are employed spend less time interacting with their children, therefore are at more risk of being violent when they are with their children (Demo, 1992).

Luster and Small investigates sexual abuse, physical abuse, alcohol assumption, suicidal ideation, parental monitoring, and parental support through a questionnaire of 42, 568 adolescents. Luster and Small’s article portray much strength as it takes into consideration history of the concepts and the patterns that evolved in the past. The empirical data presented sufficient reinforcement which makes the article overall very strong. There are several other external forces that may drive a child to different consequences which are not mentioned above.

Relation between Child-Parent Conflict and Academic Performance The relationship between child-parent conflict and academic performance is complex and delicate. When an adolescent is distracted by situations at home, the problems often tends to follow them to school, which in effect causes the child to perform poorly. Distractions are usually sources of poor academic achievement. According to Cook-Cottone, there are many factors that lead to stress, and many children are unable to return to school because of it, severely decreasing their standings in their academics.

Parents who assume dominant roles in the relationship and whom tend to look at negatively are more prone to attract conflict within their relationship (Barber, 1994). With many external forces weighing down a child, they are most likely to face some of the consequences mentioned above. A student’s success depends on many motives, good or bad. Good factors lead to success while bad ones lead to negative performance in academics. The nature of child-parent conflict differs when dealing with different situations. As the relation between child-parent conflict increases, academic performance decreases.

Conclusion There are so many forces which impact children, biological, environmental etc. The solution I would suggest to solve the problem of child-parent conflict, would be targeted towards parents more than to children. It’s easy to propose solutions; however, most aren’t applicable to the universal problems of child-parent conflict. No matter what family structure or how much time spent with a child, parents should be able to have meaningful conversations with their children for the time they spend with them.

Family interaction is necessary and would reflect a positive atmosphere to consequently promote a child’s success in academic performance. Understanding how student development and how they learn is also of great importance, maybe more to the teacher than to the guardian(s) of the child. Overall, keeping a positive atmosphere at home would decrease the amount of child-parent conflicts and increase a child’s confidence. The forces that affect a child always differ, as a teacher, it is important to keep track of a child’s academics.

If a high achiever drop their grades significantly, it’s important to approach the child and discuss issues if need be. Education and family play major roles in the psychological development of a child, and communication between parents and teachers, teachers and children, and children and parents is of great importance in order for our society to reach a goal for the younger generations.

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