Brits' family arguments get worse with age


11 November 2019

Kids, finances and in-laws cited as key triggers - tensions peak after a mere 48hrs in the company of extended family Christmas named core 'seasonal family flashpoint' for family rows

  • New study reveals kids and childcare, not calling enough or calling too much, and money are Brits' biggest temper triggers between adults and their parents
  • The majority of British adults (86%) believe that family arguments can get worse with age
  • Three in five Brits' struggle to spend two days with immediate family without a squabble, with Christmas, summer vacations and birthdays key periods for tension
  • Research shows that over a third (34%) admit that their family causes them more stress over a lifetime than their job
  • Study commissioned to celebrate the launch of The Cockfields, a new comedy based on a family meltdown premiering on UKTV channel Gold on Tuesday 12th November at 10pm.

Kids, communication and money are the biggest triggers for family arguments between adults and their parents, according to a new study released today, which suggests that Brits' family arguments worsen with age.

The study, overseen by leading family psychologist Emma Kenny, was specially commissioned by the UKTV channel Gold to celebrate the premiere of new family comedy The Cockfields, which premieres tomorrow night Tuesday 12th November.

The study of 2,000 British adults reveals that the majority of Brits (86%) believe that family blow-ups get worse as we get older, with two in five (40%) feeling that their arguments with their parents as an adult have a longer impact on their relationship with their family than when they were a child.

Brexit and politics, whose house to spend Christmas at, intrusive personal questions and not acknowledging health problems were also named amongst the top family argument flashpoints between parents and adult children. Whereas for parents and children that live at home, cleaning the house, curfews and what to eat at mealtimes were among the top squabble starters.

The Top 15 Family Flashpoints between parents and adult children:
1. Kids and childcare (48%) 2. Communication - Not calling enough/calling too much (48%)
3. Money and Finances (43%)
4. Unsolicited advice (38%)
5. Clothes and appearance (32%)
6. Family gatherings - Whose house to spend Christmas/Easter et at (30%)
7. Health issues - i.e not acknowledging health problems (28%)
8. Choice of partner/issues with a partner (26%)
9. Siblings - Comparing siblings progress (25%)
10. In-law's/partner's family (23%)
11. Politics and Brexit (23%)
12. Being intrusive/ asking too many questions about your love life (21%)
13. Technology - i.e not being able to use technology (20%)
14. Career (17%)
15. Weddings (16%)

Family drama is a huge stress for Brits, with over a third (34%) admitting that their family cause more stress for them in a lifetime than their job. Interestingly, triggers such as unsolicited advice and comments on clothes and appearances are revealed as aggravations that stand the test of time, infuriating children and parents regardless of their age.

Almost three quarters (71%) of respondents stated that they can have no 'filter' when it comes to family - unlike when we speak to work colleagues or even our friends. This could be linked to why arguments get worse with age, with over half of adults (52%) saying that they hold a grudge against their parents for longer now than when they lived at home.

It is then unsurprising that well over half of us (59%) struggle to spend two days together with immediate family before a squabble breaks out, with 90 minutes as the average length of a family argument for adult children. Events such as Christmas (71%), summer holidays (53%) and birthdays (41%) are listed as key trigger periods for tension.

Family psychologist Emma Kenny says:

Our research shows that family arguments can worsen with age. As children grow into adults family dynamics shift and change, and it can be hard for parents to see their child as an adult which often causes tension. Arguments tend to arise when families spend elongated periods of time together or at high-intensity occasions and this is acutely observed in Gold's new comedy The Cockfields where we see a family celebrating a 40th birthday dissolve into conflict with hilarious results.

Across the country, Scotland is the place that a family row is likely to break out the quickest, with two in five Scots (39%) having a disagreement with their family within an hour of seeing them, whereas Wales seems to have the biggest blow-ups, saying that their family arguments last an average of two hours and 22 minutes.

For Brits, over half (51%) feel that when they are with their parents they revert back to feeling like a child with even more (60%) believing that at times their parents still treat them as one.

The Cockfields, starring Joe Wilkinson, Diane Morgan and Sue Johnston, follows Simon as he takes his girlfriend home to the Isle of Wight to spend his 40th with his overbearing family, with tensions mounting until they blow over into a family meltdown. Airing over three episodes on consecutive nights, it premieres on Gold on Tuesday 12th November at 10pm.

Gerald Casey, Gold channel director, said:

Family arguments are a huge part of modern family life, and whilst they can be stressful they can also be a source of amusement so we are glad we can shed some

The Cockfields airs Tuesday 12th November, Wednesday 13th November and Thursday 14th November, 10pm daily on GOLD

For more information, please contact:

Jess Kane at Taylor Herring
0208 206 5151

Notes to Editors
Survey of 2,000 British adults by 3Gem was commissioned in October 2019.

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