Fighting and Conflict in Front of the Kids
Kids model themselves after the important adults in their lives, their parents. They learn to imitate adult behavior, model what it means to be a man or a woman, and learn about relationships between men and women. When parents respect and value each other, their children learn about equality in relationships.
There is no such thing as a conflict-free marriage. Parents will argue and disagree, but when parents often argue heatedly and are disrespectful to each other, they teach their children undesirable lessons. Angry voices, negative facial expressions, constant yelling, and hurtfulness toward one another teach kids how to be hostile.
Sometimes unavoidable arguments will be displayed in front of the kids. It is useful for kids to observe adults engage in respectful disagreements. They can then see how individuals resolve their arguments and that all is not lost. It reassures them that even if there is distance, relationships can remain whole.
Knowing how to fight effectively is very important. Here are some guidelines on how to have a “good fight”:
Agree on How to Disagree: Decide when, how, etc. Some couples may decide never to go to bed angry. Others may not allow problems to fester. Other couples may agree that if a problem is not discussed within 48 hours, then it’s history.
Don’t Go Overboard: Express your feelings without threatening or belittling your partner. No name calling, blaming, or dragging the kids into the argument. Everybody loses with these destructive tactics.
Focus on the Fight at Hand: Do not bring up past disagreements. Talk about the immediate issue. Do not use phrases like, “You always…” or “You never…”
Take a Time Out: If you are too heated to discuss things, don’t! Take a break and cool down. Move hot topics behind closed doors.
It’s ok for kids to see fights, as long as they see the resolution. Let the kids know you have reached a compromise, have said you’re sorry, reached a solution or peacefully agreed to disagree.
Remember that nothing benefits kids more than seeing their parents as humans with faults but with the ability to make corrections.
The Mars & Venus Counseling Center is here when you need us. We are located in Teaneck, Oradell, and Ramsey, NJ.