I am a firm believer in airing out your marital troubles behind closed doors.
If you have something mean to say or something important to discuss, find the place and the time when little or big ears aren’t listening.
Nothing is gained from fighting with or belittling your spouse in front of your children.
There is a stability and safety our children desperately need that can so easily be shattered by constant arguing and strong discussions.
So much of what parents and married couples need to say to each other about finances, worries, relationship problems, family issues are not meant to be discussed in front of children. The added stress to their little lives is unnecessary and harmful.
With that all said…
I do think that kids SHOULD hear their parents argue… sometimes.
Well, I recently wrote a post called “I’m So Mad!”
In that post, I talked about how marriage is this constant give and take of being mad at our spouse and being in love with our spouse. We feel incredibly passionate about pretty much everything that has to do with marriage and family. All in one day you can be absolutely elated with your spouse and positively frustrated with your spouse. Both emotions equally passionate. And marriage is about working the two together to build a strong, healthy relationship.
A friend commented on that post saying, “I also think it’s really important for our children to see that we don’t always get along. As well as see how we fix it.”
How true! I love when reader comments spark new conversations!
Yes, this give and take in marriage, the constant back and forth of emotions… that is real life!
That is real marriage and real family and real relationship!
Our kids must learn how to handle their emotions, their words and the struggles that come with a close, healthy, Biblical marriage.
That means fighting fair and working things out and saying I’m sorry and listening and discussing.
How can our kids learn that from us, the very best place to learn those skills, if we are always going to another room to argue, discuss or work things out?
They need to see us discuss some things in front of them. Letting them watch the confrontation, the discussion and the resolution.
They may not realize it now. They may get grossed out when you kiss, hug and make-up. They may even feel sad watching you disagree.
But the value of the lessons they are learning will show up one day when they are married and have struggles to work through.
They will better know how to work things out because they have learned healthy ways from you.
That means really talking things out, not running away and slamming the door.
That means being silent and listening to the other person.
That means staying calm when you feel misunderstood.
That means not throwing back mean names when you feel mistreated.
That means not yelling or bringing up past wrongs.
It means demonstrating I Corinthians 13 kind of love to your spouse even when you are mad, frustrated, wronged and hurt.
Our kids need to see these things.
They don’t see it on TV. They don’t read it in magazines. And they probably don’t see it at their friend’s house.
They should see it at home. With you.
A few tips for arguing in front of your kids:
1. Choose topics wisely. Filter what should be discussed before launching into a full blown argument.
2. Talk it through. Don’t leave things hanging and unresolved between you and your spouse. Be sure you can walk it from confrontation to resolution in one sitting. And if you can’t, refer to #1. Or take it to the other room.
3. The Resolution. You might not always come to one. Sometimes you have to offer grace and forgiveness and agree to disagree. Showing your kids that this is a valuable way to end a discussion will help them in so many ways as they grow up and face the world.
4. Hug. Show your kids that no matter what, you love our spouse.
5. Talk to your kids. Use these times for family prayers, family meetings, and family discussions about healthy ways to face conflict with people you love.
So, while I don’t think that arguing in front of your kids should be a daily occurrence, there is value in wisely choosing discussions that can be worked out while they are listening.
What do you think? To argue or not to argue?