Well, a few years back, I was in the middle of a heated argument with my husband when we both heard muffled sobs from the doorway. Our daughter stood behind the curtain, eyes wild with fear. As I rushed to her, she clung tightly to me and cried louder in horror and called out her younger brother shouting “See they are fighting!”
It would be impossible to pacify the wailing children with the elder repeating the question, “Tell me first, will everything be fine? Will you both be back to normal?” Taken aback by the situation, we reassured our children that everything was fine. We spent time explaining that not all fights are serious, and some issues need to be aired out in an argument. We said it is as normal and healthy for parents to fight as it is for siblings. After extracting many promises from us, they seemed to understand this, while we tried to be more careful with our arguments from then on.
Understand your children
Remember that children of all ages, even when they become parents themselves, hate to see their own parents fight. That is the one relationship they wish to see rock-solid throughout their lives as it is the foundation they have based the rest of their relationships on. If anything goes wrong they tend to blame themselves for their parents’ fights and feel helpless when they can’t resolve issues.
Parent’s fights are always traumatic for children. Do not be mistaken by serious irreconcilable fights, even normal, everyday arguments can strike terror in the hearts of your children. This problem is even more pronounced in India, where parents do not hold hands touch or show other signs of affection in front of children, but they do not hesitate to fight in front of them.
I had a friend who grew up witnessing regular fights between his parents. This made him paranoid of commitment and marriages in his life. As an adult, he would naturally shy away from confrontations. He refused to get married till quite late, when a particularly sensible girl assured him that being together isn’t all about fighting and arguing but can be healthy and nourishing too.
Fight only when it is required
Parents fighting may pressurize children. Yes I understand that you can not possibly have a healthy relationship, if you are never allowed to heartily argue at times. I personally do not believe in keeping children totally away from arguments. Because an artificially-sanitized environment can lead them to imagine happy marriages are about no fighting. That will be more harmful for your child’s future relationships.
Try to tone down your fight because even though you are in a comfortable relationship it is normal to fight. But it becomes difficult for children to think beyond the immediate present. So long as you fight right, there is no harm done. In fact, experts opine that if children are witness to an argument that clearly words the issue and seeks a solution without playing the blame game, it can have a positive impact on them. It will help them understand and solve issues in a healthy manner. On the other hand, name calling, blaming each other, not listening to your partner’s viewpoint, venting resentments, storming out of an argument or giving each other the silent treatment can play havoc with your child’s psyche and future relationships. Researches indicate that even 3-year-olds are sensitive enough to gauge moods. Note that a bitter and explosive marriage can be more harmful to children than a clean break.
Try to have healthy arguments or negotiations, rather than blast-outs or total silence. Research by Dr Gordon Harold, a researcher at Cardiff University, UK, shows that verbal or physically aggressive fights, unhappy silence between parents or intense quarrels involving children have the maximum potential to scar children forever. You know the child is getting negatively impacted if he/she either “freezes out” or becomes “too clingy”.
Tips on fighting in the most productive way:
- Do not lose your basic politeness when fighting
- Train yourself to listen to your partner as well as to state your viewpoint.
- Assure your partner that you sympathize and understand when he/she is hurt.
- Understand the situation of the problem.
- Never storm out in the middle of an argument, without reaching to a conclusion.
- If thing goes out of hand, try to cool your self and take a break.
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