Do you argue with your spouse in front of the children?
“The researchers discovered that hearing arguments between parents, even when babies were asleep, affects the way in which they process emotional tones of voice. Babies from homes with a lot of conflict displayed increased stress levels when they were exposed to angry tones of voice. In turn, this response may make them more likely to become anxious as adults because they are less able to cope with and regulate their emotions, it is claimed” TELEGRAPH UK
Now, even though I as a person never carried out the above research, from my own layman point of view it is obvious that children who come from homes where there is constant bickering and conflict often tend to come away with emotional scars which stay unhealed by the years.
But the question is this – Since there is absolutely no way that 2 people living under the same roof would go through so many years without having moments of disagreements, is it possible for a couple to never, ever argue in front of the children?
In my opinion, for most couples, maybe not! That is why I would rather we focus on two important issues instead – When we argue in front of the children, ‘How do we argue?’ and ‘What do we argue about?’
How do we argue?
Do you realize that it’s possible for you and your spouse to argue over something seemingly as inconsequential as who will win the Euro 2016 cup but still leave your children just as traumatized as another couple who is arguing over cheating rumors or money issues? Hence you should ask yourselves these questions- When you do argue, Are both your voices raised? Do you both refuse to listen to each other? Does anger set in? Does your body tense up? Do you go beyond addressing the issue to attacking your persons? Do you disrespect one another? Do you watch your language? Do you converse or shout at each other? Do you end the argument angry at each other?
Really, whether in front of the children or not, there is a right way to argue. A ‘right way’ which doesn’t make onlookers doubt your love and respect for each other. A ‘right way’ where you’re both open to seeing reason, willing to apologize and wise enough to sometimes let the other party win. A ‘right way ‘where you’re both calmly and sensibly discussing differences of opinion.
What do we argue about?
Yes, there is a right way to argue. But still, arguments shouldn’t become a habit and even though they often spring out without warning, not every argument should be followed through in front of the children who internalize much more than we realize. So when some certain type of issues arise, rather than immediately springing out a response, you may need to hold back and save the conversation for later. This may be easier said than done but in the long run it’s for the best. Here are a few of such issues…
Sensitive Issues – I’m sure you know what I’m talking about. You know those issues that push your buttons real hard, making you just want to explode and sometimes leaving you irrational. An issue that is sensitive for one couple may not be sensitive with another couple. What’s important is that you identify your own sensitive topics and save such conversations for later. Also, even behind closed doors, don’t forget to argue ‘right’ because what happens behind closed doors has a way of sometimes influencing what happens in the open.
Parenting issues – Trust me, once those little ones sense that their parents are not on the same page concerning disciplinary issues, they are going to play both parties and they are going to play them hard. It is therefore important that in front of the children you both maintain a united front.
Money issues – Your children need to stay confident that you are the parent and you have what it takes to take care of their needs. True, at this young age, they should be taught not to take the things they have for granted considering the fact that there are other children out there staving. But still, teaching them doesn’t mean you take them to a point of anxiety about for example, how their school fees will be paid next term
Family (and people in general) – You’ll be surprised what children pick up from conversations between parents and you’ll be even more surprised at the words they will repeat out there to the parties concerned. So even if you were upset with what your husband and his family did at that party last weekend, you really don’t have to discuss the issue with your husband in front of your children. Your child just might quote you to grandma next weekend. Besides you don’t want the children taking sides and forming and maintaining negative opinions about people based solely on your own experiences and opinions which in long run may turn out to even be irrational.
Probabilities – There’s no point getting your child worked up about probabilities such as whether or not you should move house or he should change schools, etc. Why get him anxious about probabilities which may never happen?
Children worries – If your child sees that you are both worked up about and arguing over maybe his health or his education or his social life, etc, he too would put on his worrying cap. This is beause children have been wired to expect their super parents to show up with ‘answers’ and not ‘questions’. So how can you not expect him to expect the worst when his superheroes can’t seem to get it together themselves?
In summary, in front of the children cut down on the arguments and try to maintain a united front. Let conversations in front of them be over the lighter stuffs which you can both laugh over at the end of the day or easily come to a common page as regards. Really, you don’t want to emotionally scar your children or make them believe that difference of opinions calls for pulling out of the claws.
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