Childrearing

You’re Not Going To Screw Up Your Kids If You Fight In Front Of Them, Experts Say

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shutterstock_109136705__1380376877_142.196.156.251I’ve never met a couple that doesn’t fight. Fighting is normal. Fighting is natural. Fighting is healthy, right? Obviously I’m not talking about physical or emotional abuse – but people are going to disagree and those disagreements don’t stop when you have kids. So is it okay to fight in front of them? Some experts say, “yes.”

From The Wall Street Journal:

“Kids are going to have disagreements with their friends, their peers, co-workers,” says Patrick Davies, a professor of psychology at the University of Rochester. “If they don’t witness disagreements and how they are handled in constructive ways, they are not well-equipped to go out into the world and address inevitable conflict.”

Dr. Davies and fellow researchers found that “constructive” marital conflict was associated with an increase in children’s emotional security, in their study of 235 families with children ages 5 to 7 published in 2009 in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry. Other studies have linked constructive marital conflict with the healthy development of children’s problem-solving and coping skills and even happiness.

I think the ways in which we respond to arguments are totally shaped by our own experiences. For example, when something is wrong – I like to argue. I come from a family in which my parents basically ignored each other for the last 10 years of their marriage. I hate silence. I hate denial. I hate looking the other way. It reminds me of the quiet, unhappy environment the dynamic between my parents forced me to grow up in. I would have much rather seen them argue once in a while.

Someone who grew up in an environment where there was constant anger and yelling may feel totally differently. Since we are all so affected by our childhoods, when we become parents – how do we ensure that we’re not totally traumatizing our kids with our arguments or lack thereof? I’m no expert, but I think it’s important to be able to voice when you are unhappy with something. It’s important to learn to listen to others express their grievances with you. Most of all, it’s important to learn how to make up – and that occasionally disagreeing with someone doesn’t mean that you love them any less.

(photo: cynoclub/ Shutterstock)