Marital rows happen. Lack of sleep, different opinions and busy schedules all put pressure on how we cope with modern, family life.
Tempers flare and quarreling is almost inevitable, so is it better to fight behind closed doors or in front of your children?
Well that depends on how you fight.
As we know our children are amazing in every way(!) and what’s more they even seem to have an inbuilt emotional barometer with an uncanny way of feeling and reading the emotional climate of their home.
Wired with an instinct to feel safe and protected, their antennae pick up with whatever is going on.
(As a child I remember tiptoeing around the house when I felt trouble in the air. Fearful that I would be the one to spark the flame, I tried to become invisible.)
Children become anxious and stressed when they’re around parents who are verbally or physically aggressive (or both) especially when the pattern is repeated and perhaps never resolved.
When parents’ arguments are destructive, the children suffer and they can be scarred permanently by the experience.
But it’s not good to give each other the silent treatment, either, in an attempt to protect our children from rows. This is an unhealthy, passive aggressive form of emotional abuse.
The good news is that if you manage to work out your differences well in front of your children, they will benefit too.
When children watch their parents disagree and make up in front of them they can be left feeling happier than they were before watching the flight.
So, if we accept that conflict is a part of everyday life and that children need to know how to manage it, perhaps we can try hard to be the very best of role models and resolve our disagreements in front of our children.
Have a go at trying the following the next time an argument rears its ugly head-
- Walk a short distance away and take at least 10 deep breaths.
- Think of your very best self as a partner and as a parent.
Then return to the situation and try the following-
Lead the discussion with empathy
Open the dialogue by first letting the other person know that you see them, you get them, and you can put yourself in their shoes.
Give your partner the benefit of the doubt
Assume the best intentions and help yourself remember that you love each other by adding an endearment.
Remember that you’re on the same team
Deal with issues by laying all the cards on the table and looking at them together to solve a dilemma rather than digging in on opposing sides. Then try problem solving with one another.
Anything that needs to be said can be said with kindness. Disapproval, disappointment, infuriation —all can be managed better with kindness.
Have a go and see how good it feels!