Engaging in conflict negatively is not only bad for your own relationship, but it may have a lasting impact on your children as well.
New research shows that adults, who remember seeing their parents fight when they were young, are much more likely to have attachment problems in their romantic relationships.
Watching parents engage in unconstructive conflict creates a negative family environment where children learn to associate intimacy with negative feelings. Children, who witness parental conflict, are more likely to develop an anxious or a dismissing (avoidant) style of attachment (see, attachment styles).
Children learn very early in life how to deal with issues of intimacy. Watching parents fight can have a lasting and negative impact on how this process plays out.
In a crisis, people have different roles to play. Differences in how people form attachments (see, attachment styles), influences how people respond when trouble strikes.
According to social defense theory, having people with a mixture of attachment styles is useful in a crisis event, because by everyone doing their own part, the larger group can deal with the problem more effectively.
Anxious individuals are useful because they are hyper-vigilant. Being anxious is useful because it makes people look for trouble before it strikes. Anxious individuals are the first to react to problems and alert others of danger. Anxious individuals act as sentinels.
Dismissing (or avoidant) individuals are useful as well. Their primary concern is for themselves. So, they are usually the first to take defensive reactions or find an escape route. While they are primarily concerned with themselves, because they are the first to spot potential solutions, others can follow their lead.
Finally, secure individuals also play a critical role. Secure individuals attend to people who need help and try to implement the best solution for dealing with the crisis.
Everyone has their role to play – being alert, finding quick solutions, and helping others.
Dealing with conflict usually involves a lot of negative emotions. So, it should come as no surprise that people often try to use humor to diffuse tension during a dispute.
New research shows that attachment styles influence how couples use humor during conflict. Dismissing individuals (also called avoidant individuals) are more likely to use inappropriate forms of humor. Dismissing individuals are less likely to use good-natured jokes; rather they are more likely to use humor to attack or belittle a partner. Putting a partner down during conflict makes perfect sense from an attachment perspective – dismissing individuals like to create distance in their close relationships. What better way to do that than to personally attack a partner?
Anxious individuals, by comparison, are more likely to use self-defeating humor. They use humor to put themselves down and engage in self-ridicule. This is a much less effective way to solve conflict, but it also makes sense from an attachment perspective. Anxious individuals have low self-esteem. By acting helpless they hope to play upon their partner’s sympathy.
The most interesting finding of the study was the fact that both anxious and dismissing individuals dislike when their partners use a sense of humor that matches their own.
Dismissing individuals like to dish out insults, but don’t like it when their partner’s return fire. Dismissing individuals have a negative view of others, so when partners attack back, it probably reinforces their view that people cannot be trusted.
Anxious individuals disliked when their partners use self-defeating humor. Because anxious individuals worry about being taken care of, it makes them even more anxious when they hear their partners express weakness.
The entire study can be found here.
New research continues to show that early life experiences influence how people make decisions as adults.
Children, who learn that life is harsh at a very early age, subsequently adopt fast strategies for managing risk. Since life is tough better start spending your resources as quickly as you can and in a variety of different ways. Such individuals are more likely to reach puberty quicker, start sex earlier in life and have more sexual partners. The same patterns applies when it comes to making financial decisions – people, who adopt fast strategies, are much more likely to diversify the risk – spending their resources more widely.
By comparison, children, who have stable and secure childhoods, are more likely to adopt slow strategies. As adults, these individuals are more likely to put all of their eggs in one basket. Such individuals delay puberty, sexual intercourse, and they have fewer sexual partners and fewer children. When it comes to financial planning, they also tend to allocate their resources more conservatively.
The full study can be found here.
People, who have an anxious or avoidant (also called dismissing) style of attachment, are also ineffective as parents. Parents with such insecure attachment styles are not the most responsive caregivers. Secure parents, by comparison, are much more attentive to their children’s needs.
It appears that anxious parents either tend to be too authoritarian (controlling or dictatorial) or too permissive (too lax – wanting their children’s approval).
The optimal parenting style involves being authoritative – setting rules and limits, while also attentively responding to a child’s needs in a nurturing way. Secure individuals are much more likely to adopt this optimal style of parenting.
Anxious parents have a difficult time coping with their own emotions, so it should come as no surprise that they have a difficult time attending their children’s needs effectively. Avoidant individual’s tendency to dismiss their own emotions also makes them less responsive when it comes to caregiving.
The full study can be found here.