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For almost a decade now, my father and I have had conflicts on and off. These conflicts relate to his parenting style and my nature to rebel when given unreasonable orders. My father grew up with an Indian culture. So in an Indian culture, the father normally wears the pants. That being said, me having to grow up with a Chinese mother can sometimes be conflicting in terms of how diverse these two cultures are. I don’t follow the Indian culture, nor do I follow the Chinese culture. Although both my parents have different backgrounds, I grew up in a Eurasian community and I would say I’m in between cultures so that can sometimes bring forth problems with knowing what is right and wrong, and what can or can’t I do. I believe that these are the core issues of the conflicts between my father and I. So there is no say in who initiated the conflict. Although sometimes I like to think that he’s the one who always lights the fire.
My mother on the other hand, is more open-minded to other cultures. Therefore, when the tension of the conflicts between my father and I started to light up, she would come in and throw water over us (not literally of course). She’s like the cushion between two objects that consistently collides. It is obvious that my father hold more power than I due to his resources and his authority. He views power as distributed power where it is either me or him having power and no way he would allow me to have higher power. That is why sometimes I involve my mother so that I can bolster the power so that I may reach equal or close to equal power with him. Thus we have the conflict triangle:
In this diagram, it show me having a conflict with my father. He has more power than me. By involving my mother, I can increase my power, allowing me to confront the conflict in a more even manner.
Looking through the Lens model, I can understand his perspectives but he often does not see through my perspectives. I maybe wrong about this. But the only reason I say this is because he grew up in a very different life style as I have, so he’ll find it difficult to see where I’m coming from.
I can understand where my dad’s coming from because I know that when my father was 9 years old. His father, my grandfather left the family. My father grew up without a dad. So now he is trying very hard to be a good dad and can be over protective and strict many a times. Unfortunately these are the times when conflict a raise.
He compares how life was when he was a child and how I am. I always reply him with the line “dad, a curry mee is no longer 50cens”. Life style changes as the world evolves with technology and different social activity, he doesn’t understand this. And I don’t blame him for it.
My father has a hot temper and also a big ego. Many times when a conflict is escaladed is because of his temper and his ego. For example, his introspective goal was to tell me to ask me not to hang my towel in my room because it is normally hanged outside near the living room. But I found out that my towel dries faster when I hang it in my room and also I don’t think it appropriate to hang wet towels in the living room where people can see. So I voiced out and said that I’d rather hang it in my room. Due to his ego, he now had a transactive goal. He just wanted me to follow his order. He then shouts at me and says “I tell you to hang outside mean you hang outside”. Since no one like to be ordered around unreasonably, continued hanging my towel in my room. After the conflict, he had a retrospective goal which was to catch me hanging my towel in the room and see to it that I was punished.
Both my father and I have used the four horsemen of the apocalypse which are the four way to contribute to a destructive conflict. My father often criticizes me and use contempt over me while I use stonewalling and defensiveness. He would say that I’m useless or I’m forgetful. He always says “I’m your father so listen to me” when he uses contempt. When that happens, I get annoyed and start getting defensive to a point where I just stonewall. These are usually the case.
When conflict occurs, the types of goals my father usually have are topic relate but it often transact into identity goals. For example, when he told me to take down the Christmas tree, it was a topic goal. But when I forgot to do it the next day, I told him that I would do it at night because I was out that day in town. He then told me to come all the way back home just to take down the tree knowing that I had things to do in town. his goal was now identity goal. He was trying to portray his authority and showing me who he is by making me come all the way back just to keep the tree. I always try to rationalize to him (thinking that it’ll get through his head), but it gets worst because I’d be going against him, which is the opposite of what he wants. So i would say most of the time my goals are topic based because I rebel by rationalizing with me trying to get my point through.
In terms of conflict styles, I would say that my Father is more of a competition (also because of his hot temper) with a bit (tiny) compromise. People with competition style tend to eliminate their competition and they always want to win an argument. For example if I were to tell my father what is right or wrong while we’re in a conflict, that would be the end of me. Also due to his hot temper, he engages in violence sometimes and that’s where mother comes in. One of the characteristics of a person using competition style is that he provides me with many lovely threats which may or may not come true depends on how I handle the situation.
When I was younger, I got angry at him fast because I didn’t understand why he did what he did. That usually brought more conflict because I sure got my hot temper from him. As I grow older, I slowly understand more and more about his lens and why he is the way he is. The solution to this conflict needs only time to subside it. With better understanding of each other and watch how our massage is conveyed. Conflict like this cannot be overcome overnight therefore it is still a working progress. Also tolerance and respecting each other seem to help. To help with the conflict, it is good to sometimes change the goals to relationship base so that we can keep the father son bond a good one.
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