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Family conflict – questions and activities

Michele Frankeni  |  05 September 2019

Read ‘The patron of family squabbles’ in the Australian Catholics spring 2019 edition and take part in the following questions and activities.


  • Where was St Elizabeth of Portugal born?
  • What was the King known as? Why?
  • Why did King Denis order a page boy to be killed?
  • What happened?
  • In what conflicts did St Elizabeth play peacemaker?
  • How did she play peacemaker between her son and husband?


The fact that no one knows you quite like your family is both an advantage and disadvantage. On one hand being with people who automatically ‘get you’ is comforting but on the other, having people who know you so intimately makes it very easy to push your buttons.

  1. Consider your family dynamic. Can you identify the peacemakers, the jokers, the bossy one, the nice one? How as a family do you handle conflict? How does your family solve problems. Write a journal article about an instance when your family dealt with conflict. How was a solution reached? Was it fair to all concerned? Were everyone’s opinions and feelings valid? You might like to share the conflict and solution with the class and open discussion to other responses.
  2. Civil wars are often considered fights among family. Research conflicts between nations – e.g. American Civil War, The Troubles in Ireland. What were the issues? How was the tension resolved? Who were the peacemakers? Write a report for the class.
  3. Jesus is considered a peacemaker. ‘Peace on earth’ is the joyful psalm at Christmas time but in the Gospel of Luke 12:49-53, Jesus is cited as a cause of division. ‘Do you think that I have come to establish peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division.’ Discuss what this means to you and how it sits with the usual message of peace. You might like to consider the homily notes from Fr Brendan Byrne SJ on this text or the scripture reflections.

For younger students

Discuss the article ‘The patron of family squabbles’. Ask the students to think about how difficult it must have been for St Elizabeth to play peacemaker between her husband and son. Talk with them about conflicts they may encounter and then arrange the students into groups of three or four.

  • Ask each group to write a letter describing a situation or conflict involving children their age.
  • Collect the letters and distribute one to each group to respond to. (No group should have their own letter.)
  • Remind the children they should be kind and considerate in their advice.
  • If conflicts arise later in the class or playground similar to their scenarios there may be a chance to refer to their advice and discuss whether the solutions were workable.

Gaming the Gospels: Mary and Martha

Take part in the Gaming the Gospel activity in the Spring 2019 edition of Australian Catholics.


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