Tips to Fight Fair in Front of Children


Marriage and family can bring heightened emotions and challenging issues when we least expect it! Should a couple ever fight in front of the children? If so, what are the right things to keep in mind so that it is a learning experience and not damaging to the marriage and family? Here are a few tips to keep in mind as you walk through what can either be a very growing situation or one that can be very hurtful and leave imprints that can last a lifetime in our children.

1 Don’t get physical or aggressive: It already deeply impacts a child’s security in their home and it is being a safe place for them when they see their parents disagree or fight, but it takes it to a whole other level when one partner becomes aggressive, physical or abusive. The child will hurt for the parent that is being attacked and can become fearful, angry, resentful or scared of the parent that is doing the attacking. It also teaches them a very dangerous way to settle differences that they will carry into their personal lives. Have a plan as a couple to walk away or take a time out if emotions are getting to this level so your children see a healthy way to handle conflict.

2 Don’t ask your children to choose sides: Again, it is already stressful enough for the children to see mom and dad fighting and have their security threatened, but can you imagine what it must do to them emotionally to get thrown in the middle of the dispute? Children need to be allowed to be children and not expected to be a referee or judge in their parent’s arguments. There is a deep emotional conflict if they are put in this situation because it forces them to choose against someone they count on to be their safe place.

3 Do expose your children to discussions that are age-appropriate: It is very difficult during tense times to think through how your child is viewing the parent’s disagreement due to the emotions going on, but try to be very sensitive to the subject being discussed so the child is not exposed to topics that are past their understanding or just inappropriate. Complaining to your child about personal habits of your spouse, sexual matters or even some financial issues will certainly do much more harm than good. It will bring great confusion to a child that is put in this situation and cause them to try to “grow up” too fast! There are many other options for parents to go to if they need to vent, such as a counselor or a trusted friend of the same sex but never the child!

4 Do have disagreements that can be resolved: You and your spouse both know those areas that are either your “hot button” or that the two of you just can’t get resolved, those are the areas to stay away from in front of the children. Remember, they are learning how to deal with differences and disputes from their parents and they need to see that having arguments is not necessarily a bad thing as long as they are handled respectfully in the interactions and they can see the steps to take to bring resolution.

When couples have children, they must keep in mind that the children are going to learn a lot about problem solving by watching their parents. This can be a great training ground by learning how to disagree, but still show respect and compassion for each other. The children will observe their parents, take on how they handle these times and then go use what they have learned in their real-life conflicts and arguments. Are your interactions with your spouse teaching your children positive, conflict-resolution or is it setting them up to go into the world and escalate the tough situations they find themselves in with siblings, friends, classmates, or co-workers? By following these four tips, you and your spouse will truly model for your children how to fight fair while protecting their emotions!



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