Fighting in front of the child
“You should not fight or disagree with each other in front of children”, is something we have all heard as the absolute gospel truth about parenting. So much so that if ever we are in a situation where we are asked, “Mommy are you and Daddy arguing?”, we don’t even bat an eyelid before responding with a “No sweetie, we are simply talking loudly”, as we continue the argument albeit in another room!
While you may mentally laud your move, you are actually not helping your child by trying to make things appear different from what they actually are. No two humans are wired to think the same way and differences are part of any adult relationship. When you talk through your differences with each other in front of the child, you are actually providing him or her valuable lessons in dealing with everyday conflict. Kids need to understand that anger is a legitimate emotion and does not need to be repressed. How you express your anger in a way that makes the other person appreciate your point of view without feeling threatened or humiliated, is a lesson that kids can learn early on when they see their parents disagreeing over issues.
Healthy arguments trigger alternative solution seeking and the process can be both interesting and informative. As long as anger is expressed in healthy ways with no disrespect being shown, verbally and physically between parents, resolving conflicts and disagreeing in front of the child can have more positive than negative connotations. When children see adults expressing their opinions and feelings about a particular issue, they also learn to express themselves in constructive ways rather than trying to squash down negative emotions or contrary thoughts. These skills can prove invaluable in later life when they have to navigate the complex world of relationships both at home and at work.
All this is not to say that all forms of fighting are okay in front of the child. It is a well proven fact that stress levels in children go up when they see adults fighting in front of them and there is always the tendency to blame themselves as the cause of the fight. Even though expressing differences is important it is even more important to adhere to certain basic rules when you choose to air your differences in front of the child
- Avoid any form of shouting when talking to each other.
- Avoid using words like always or never to describe behaviors and habits
- Avoid getting personal, instead stick to the point of discussion rather than generalizing it to the person
- Appreciate the fact that both of you think differently and figure out the merits and demerits of each point of argument
- Avoid using any forms of abusive language in front of the kids
Even in the worst of arguments children should never be asked to take sides between parents. Instead use the opportunity to give your child valuable lessons in maintaining respect for the person while disagreeing with his or her opinion or action.