This essay will discuss the issues between two people, Robert and Denise Patton, along with how these issues affect their two children. To enable an understanding of the problem a summary of the nature and history of the conflict has been given. In addition, a look at the interaction of interests, goals, and the power of each party allows an understanding of each person’s position and role in the conflict as well as personal attempts at resolution of the problem. In working to resolve this conflict there will be strategies discussed which, if Robert and Denise are willing to apply, could help them resolve the conflicts that they are facing in their marriage. Summary of the Nature and History of the Conflict
The Patton Family case study has different types of conflict inside it. The summary of the conflict starting with the family dynamic gives a look of what is happening with the family from an outsider looking inward. To an outsider the family is in shambles; they fight regularly, and it seems that the parents have concern about one child only. In the beginning, the parents were happy; they both were on a path that looked successful.
They both were in college and had great jobs after college. Once they started a family things changed for the couple. The mother wanted to be a part of the children’s lives more, so she quit her job and found another that worked with her schedule. The parents fought frequently about the youngest child and how to parent him. Since the parents were not getting along for a while the husband finally had enough. He decided to leave the house and tell his wife he wants a divorce.
The husband and wife blame each other for the failed marriage, and the youngest child blames himself for his father’s leaving. “Without an apology or other form of resolution, the trust on both sides is compromised, and may not know what to expect from this person in the future” (Scott, 2011 p. 2). When the father left he never sat down with his children or wife to explain why it had come to this. The father finally had enough with his wife, but he did not explain his reasoning. Context of Conflict
The context of the conflict is that two parents have separated after a long marriage resulting from arising conflicts in the marriage. The couple has
two children; one who is almost an adult, and the other is a young child who seems to have trouble with his energy at home and at school. The conflict started to occur more frequently and more harshly as their second child started having problems in school. One parent, the mother, believes that there is something wrong with him and that he requires special attention with him all the time.
A child with these kinds of behaviors would become costly and would require significant attention. The other parent believes that his son is just spoiled and requires normal attention and discipline. He further believes that these luxuries have left his son vulnerable with a lack of awareness for his surroundings. Whether or not the parents are splitting, they were a team trying to provide for their two children. “When managing conflicts, collectivist cultures place more emphasis on the avoidance and accommodation of conflicts because collectivists value harmony, security, and conformity” (Hong, 2008). Interactions of Interests, Goals, and Power
The interests, goals, and power of both parents are that they cannot stand each other and need space in to function. One believes that he does not receive enough attention from his family and wife, and that they show no gratitude for his hard work. He has been working for many years and has primarily been the sole wage-earner in the family. The wife feels that her family does not appreciate her. She feels that she has lost her active role in the environment of her oldest child and husband. Her focus has been her young son who has been having these troubles at school and home. This amount of pressure has shut her out of everyone’s world except her son, who does not know what is going between the two split parents. According to the text the “conflict above may be substituting for intimacy and connection, or it may serve as a launching pad for problem solving” (Hocker & Wilmot, 2011). Attempts Made at Conflict Resolution
There are competing family goals regarding Arnie (Wilmot & Hocker, 2011). Robert believes lack of discipline is the cause and wants Arnie to be held accountable whereas Denise believes there is a neurological basis and believes Arnie should be tested and treated according to his perceived needs. Though both parents have expressed ideas for dealing with the problem they have not agreed on a method, nor given significant consideration to the other’s opinion in this matter. The conflict has evolved and in the process a couple of resolution tactics have been used. Early in the conflict, aggression and competition were used, with each attempting to use power of position as a tool to win the battle. Rob made the money and determined it would not be used for mental health treatment; Denise was primary care-giver and as such was responsible for seeing that Arnie’s needs were met.
Screaming matches to coerce the other into submission failed and eventually gave way to avoidance (Wilmot & Hocker, 2011). Withdrawal from the conflict equated to withdrawal from the relationship as the couple slept apart and ceased communication (Wilmot & Hocker, 2011). The interactions that did take place were interpreted based upon past events, setting the paradigm for what each could expect from the other, likely feeding into rather than helping to resolve the conflict (Coltri, 2010). Robert’s final act of avoidance was for self-protection; he moved out to protect himself from further emotional harm (Wilmot & Hocker, 2011). Personal Initial Reactions or Strategies for Resolving this Conflict Personal Initial Reaction
The initial reaction to the conflict between Robert and Denise is that they should agree to mediation as a mean of solving their disagreement. Denise relies on Robert for complete financial support for their family. The problem here is Denise does not want to work because of their son’s neurological condition. Robert believes differently about Denise not wanting to work and feels that Denise is using Arnie’s condition as an excuse. Robert and Denise seek legal consultation, after Robert leaves the home. Strategy for Resolving this Conflict
Legal consultation has it advantage but mediation would be better in this situation. Most lawyers discuss with clients if they should choose mediation based on their situations. Mediation would give the couple the opportunity to explain their side of the situation in privacy. Attorneys are contacted for legal advice but mediation is for solving issues and helping the couple to make the right decision. An attorney represents only the client who has retained his or her service and not for solving the
problems. A mediator has a neutral part and only help in resolving the issues.
Mediation taken place in courts is not private and the judge makes decision on the case. In the case of Robert and Denise, mediation would allow them to decide the outcome. The best thing for Robert and Denise is to have a mediator presence to help settle property, child support, and custody issues. According to Divorceinfo (2013) “The mediator remains neutral between the husband and the wife. That means the mediator can’t give advice to either party, and also can’t act as a lawyer for either party.” Conclusion
Robert and Denise Patton seek legal consultation as a mean of finding ways of settling their conflicts. Legal consultation provides the couple with advice on the best avenue to take in solving their problems. Once the two meet with their lawyer, the couple is told if they should have a mediator there with his or her lawyer. Mediators do not represent either of the couple, only the individuals’ lawyers do.
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