More than likely, you don’t like to fight in front of your children. Many experts encourage this behavior, with the idea being that disagreements shouldn’t happen in front of children and that parents are to present a united front for them with a loving and supportive façade.
That’s where the problem can occur; the façade. There are several reasons why this façade can actually create a challenge for their children kids no matter how happy the parents are as individuals or together as a couple.
I’m not suggesting that you should have vicious battles, verbal or physical, in front of your children. You want your children to grow up in a loving environment and you want them to know they’re loved and in a safe place.
However, that doesn’t mean parents can never disagree. Calmly discussing differing opinions can be a great lesson for kids. It teaches them how to dialogue, to listen to someone else’s viewpoint, and to be able to articulate their own.
In addition to that, it demonstrates that two people can care for each other very much and still disagree on topics. When adults disagree and are able to negotiate a peaceful resolution, children learn the art of compromise. They learn of respecting other’s needs and positions, as well as how to seek alternatives rather than digging in their heels and insisting on getting their own way.
What about more heated discussions? Should they be held only behind closed doors?
Fights happen. You and your spouse are unique individuals with lots of different preferences and pressures impacting you on a daily basis. As much as you presumably love one another, sometimes those differences hit hard.
Again, I’m not talking about violence, slamming doors, and screaming tirades, but there are times when emotions are elevated. Tempers may flare and tears may flow. Do you want your children to witness these moments?
There isn’t a right or wrong answer here, but there are two different perspectives to consider at the very least.
It might feel right to have this sort of marital disagreement in private. Perhaps it deals with an adult topic, is a result of some unusual stress in your life, or maybe it’s just something between you and your spouse.
Keep in mind that your children are probably able to hear much of your discussion. They may not be able to discern all the words, but they can feel the energy and it doesn’t feel good. It may even be scary for them if they’ve never heard you raise your voices before. They won’t be feeling safe and they may even imagine that you’re getting a divorce.
If you have your disagreement in private, then you might consider how much you’ll share with your children. If they heard any of the discussion or felt the negative energy, it might be helpful for you to give an abbreviated account of the situation — hopefully as a united front. It’s important to remember that while you may have kissed and made up, it’s unlikely that your children heard that part, so they may think you’re still angry with one another.
Your arguing might also feel scary for them, but it’s also a small dose of reality. It gives you, your spouse and the children a chance to see it all the way through — the disagreement and that you and your spouse still love each other even when you fight.
Parents who never fight only exist in fairy tales. When you pretend you’re like those make-believe people, your children can grow up feeling like any disagreement is a sign that a relationship is over. Letting them see some of your imperfections may be scary for everyone involved, but in the long run, it may help your children grow into healthier and happier adults with full, loving relationships.
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