Parental Conflict

The negative impact on the well-being of children

By Renee Donneson
(Social Worker)

According to the literature, whether or not parents are married or not or co-habitating, their conflict can harm their childrens’ physical and mental health.

Most relationships are not entirely free from conflict and disagreement and most children witness their parents argue on occasions. When parents relate to each other in a calm and positive manner in the process of a disagreement and solve the issue/problem at hand, this models for their children that they are able to resolve an issue in an appropriate manner. This method will result in most cases leaving the children unaffected and unharmed.

Parental conflict is harmful to children when it occurs on a frequent basis; when it is hostile in nature and involves verbal insults and raised voices; when parents become physically aggressive; when the conflict seems to threaten the unity of the family and in particular when it is about the children.

Children exposed to ongoing parental conflict may exhibit fear; anger; anxiety and sadness and are most likely to have poor interpersonal skills; problem solving abilities and social competence. Some children struggle to understand their parents’ conflict and tend to blame themselves or find harmful ways of dealing with the conflict. Children exposed to ongoing parental conflict can become vulnerable and at risk. Jewish Community Services is a registered Child Protection Organisation and as such the safety and protection of vulnerable children is paramount and one of the core services that we deliver.

We aim to address issues as outlined in this article and aim to find workable solutions in the best interest of parents and their children.

Should anything in this article resonate with you, or if you would like to discuss any concerns with a JCS social worker, please contact us on 021 462 5520 or email

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