Fighting in Front of the Kids: Is It Ever Okay?

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fighting in front of kidsBeing married with children can be difficult because you have to balance the conflicts that you have with your partner with the stability that your child deserves. That has led some individuals to suggest it’s never okay to fight in front of your children. And while it’s certainly true that most couples don’t know how to fight healthily in front of their kids, a straight-up prohibition may be unrealistic and unhealthy.

Some suggest that as long as you can constructively and productively disagree with your spouse, it’s actually healthy for your children to see that. So to the question: yes, it can be okay to “fight” in front of the kids as long as that “fighting” looks something like this.

1. You listen to one another.

Unhealthy fighting consists of ignoring what the other person has to say so you can “get in your shots.” This is not listening and it’s not respecting each other. Your kids will learn to tune others out and yell their way through life if that’s what they see you do.

2. It’s not violent.

Violence can take a physical form, and it can also take a verbal form. If your children are seeing you fight and starting to fear for the safety of one of you, then something is definitely wrong. You’re not teaching your kids anything but unhealthy behaviors.

3. It resolves a conflict.

Conflict resolution is not about capitulating lock, stock, and barrel, to the desires of your spouse, nor is it about achieving an outright victory. Sometimes you’ll be right, and they’ll be wrong. Sometimes it will be the other way around. And sometimes you’ll be able to agree to disagree in terms that settle the matter and allow you to move forward as a team. However it turns out, it’s important to resolve the conflict that you place in front of your children, or they are liable to run from the battles that are important.

While we wouldn’t say make a point of fighting in front of your kids, we would suggest allowing issues to come up when the circumstance calls for it. But make sure that your “fighting” adheres to each of the three principles above. Not either/or. All of them. If you can do that, then your conflicts may actually be building up your youngsters instead of tearing them down.

[Image via iDiva]
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