Have you ever argued with your significant other in front of your children and then feel horrible?
Relax. Even though you are a really good parent, you are not perfect…and neither is anyone else! We’ve all been there – it’s impossible to agree all the time, and not it’s not good to pretend that you do. How we relate to each other, even in times of conflict, is an important learning experience for our children. Through their parents, children can learn that arguing is a normal part of adult relationships. They can learn about the different ways to resolve conflicts and also how to resolve issues and move forward with one another.
We won’t always agree, and that’s okay, it’s part of life. The key is that children will learn that two people can disagree, but still love each other and even that arguments can sometimes help us to better understand each other. The manner in which parents handle arguments can influence how children handle their own feelings and opinions. It is important that they learn how to express themselves respectfully, share their thoughts with others and know that in the end, it can all work out.
As parents, try to speak with respect and avoid raising your voice to the point that you might scare your child. Also, if your child witnesses the argument, let them see you make-up and say, “I’m sorry” to one another or “We are going to agree to disagree.”
Here are a few pointers on how you might turn a disagreement into a teachable moment:
Stay on topic. Try not to let the argument escalate to yelling, name-calling or shouting obscenities. This can cause confusion and upset children, not to mention set a bad example.
Save heated discussions for times when children are not around.
It’s not necessary for children to be aware of all of the differences their parents have. Anger can be brought on by job stress, worries or just plain exhaustion. When that happens, know when it’s best to keep an argument away from your young audience. Be aware that loud voices and angry words can make our children feel scared or sad. Even giving the silent treatment can be upsetting for our kids.
Keep children out of the middle. Avoid asking children for their opinion or guiding them to take sides. Children should maintain a positive, loving relationship with both parents.
Let our children see us make-up . It’s important for children to see their parents make-up with one another. How to resolve a disagreement in a peaceful manner is a very important skill for children to learn.
Reassure our children that we love each other. It’s hard for children to understand that parents can argue and still love one another. They might believe their parents are headed for a divorce. Take time to reassure your child that you love your spouse, their parent.
Make sure children understand that it’s not their fault. Children often think that they are the cause of arguments even when the issue has nothing to do with them. This can cause them to feel guilty, as well as feel like they need to “fix it” by being good or entertaining or by trying to distract you from the argument. Reassure your child that your behavior or argument has nothing to do with them and that as an adult, it is your responsibility to resolve it, not theirs. It is never their fault.
Remind our children that you love them. Let them know that no matter what transpires between you and your partner, they’ll always be loved.
Remember: Most of us lose our cool, and that’s perfectly normal. Even in the happiest homes, issues arise and parents argue. But what’s most important for our children - and for us - is the kiss and make-up part!