Unfortunately, having arguments with the people we love is just a part of life. Some couples are loud and passionate, and some just give each other the cold shoulder when they’re upset. Fights and disagreements are a normal part of any healthy relationship, but when there are kids involved it’s important to fight fair.
Fighting can become even more common when you add babies and young children into the mix. Fatigue plays a huge part, as exhausted parents try to juggle work, parenthood and marriage. Once that first baby is born there is a brand-new set of domestic issues to work out: Who gets up in the night? Whose turn is it to change the diapers? Who deserves a break more? Who should be cooking/cleaning/putting the kids to bed?
But as understandable as these arguments can be, one of the biggest mistakes parents can make is to fight in front of their children.
Disagreements are one thing, and these shouldn’t necessarily be hidden from kids. After all, you are role models for your kids, and you can show them a positive example of how to get along and work things out. If you have an issue that needs to be resolved, it’s okay to do that in front of the kids as long as there is no yelling, name calling or other aggressive behavior.
How is fighting hard on the kids?
Seeing their parents fight makes children feel unsafe and can cause them to have difficulties in their own relationships when they’re older. Research has found that bullies are usually raised in homes where there was violent fighting between the parents. It only makes sense: if the child sees their parents bully each other and call each other names, they will learn that this is okay behavior and will use it on other kids and eventually with their own spouse.
Dr. John W. Jacobs, M.D., author of All You Need Is Love and Other Lies About Marriage, says “Children start by being frightened by their parents arguing,” says Jacobs. “Eventually, they develop a fear of being similarly trapped, and as adults may have the tendency to bail out of relationships early.” Jacobs says that while it’s true that divorce can be damaging to children, the damage is even worse for kids who witness years of fighting between unhappy, bitter parents.
How to fight fair
We are all human and we will make mistakes and lose our cool. But if you try to follow these steps, you will minimize the damage that fighting can do to your kids, and it will strengthen your relationship with your spouse as well!
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