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Parent–Child Conflict

This entry examines normative parent–child conflict, with nonclinical samples from early childhood to adulthood. Conflict, especially between parents and children, is conceptualized in Western psychological theory and research, such as psychoanalytic, sociobiological, and cognitive-developmental models, as a necessary and an adaptive developmental process. In all of these theories, conflict is a mechanism that actuates positive change over time in the individual’s ability to think in increasingly objective terms by forcing the individual to understand another’s perspective and to gain autonomy from parental control—necessary to become a self-reliant adult. By contrast, social-relational models suggest that conflict adaptiveness is dependent on numerous aspects of how conflict occurs: (a) whether conflict is implicit and unexpressed or explicit and expressed, (b) how often conflicts occur, (c) intensity and severity ...

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