Why is power so important in resolving conflict?
According to Emery (1992) ‘Intimacy and power are argued to be the basic dimensions around which relationships are structured’. Power struggles between siblings and children and parents are commonplace and well-researched areas of human development.
A child will challenge a parent on any issue that the child feels is necessary in order to satisfy it’s desire to develop an understanding of why things ‘are’ or why things ‘occur’. A child may not experience a sense of danger when faced with the task of exploration, the parent does understand and will exert power to ensure that the child remains free of the danger; this will enrage the child who suddenly finds that their goals have been interrupted. This exertion of power immediately leads to conflict. The parent will approach the conflict situation by either giving an explanation of consequences in which case the child will accept or refute the explanation.
Acceptance will lead to satisfactory conflict resolution. Failure by the child to accept may result in an outcome where the parent exerts power or influence in order to control the situation, the conflict may not be satisfactorily resolved for either part but the danger may be averted.
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