Friday, March 30, 2012

Fighting In Front of Kids

The other day I stumbled upon a website belonging to an author and pastor (I think?) because I saw the title of an article from Pinterest called Ten Actions That Kids Learn From Their Parent's Marriage. It's funny how the original reason I clicked on it had nothing to do with what I took away from it - mostly because of some of the comments. The one that stood out to me had to do with a grown woman discussing her upbringing and how her parents fought in front of her:
I'm 30 years old, no kids, and just two weeks ago I tried to explain to my own parents how influential there relationship has been on my life. My parents have definitely had their ups and downs just like any marriage...however, they did a lot of their fighting in front of me. Made me feel like I had to pick sides on who was right. And always involving me with their adult issues. I was 11 years old. I didn't need to know what was going on in my parents’ marriage. But my mother always made it a point to tell me what he was up to.
In contrast, a woman replied about her upbringing being completely opposite:
I grew up the exact opposite and also got married at a very young age. I was married at 18 (to my high school sweetheart), had my first child at 19, and divorced at 20. I wanted a relationship exactly like my parents: My parents NEVER fought in front of us. I cannot remember one time them fighting. I married for the 2nd time and found myself thinking "I don't need a man" anytime that we fought. I thought marriages were supposed to be perfect and we were never supposed to fight.
*These comments were much, much longer, but I just used a small portion. You can probably find the comment in it's entirety if you really want, just have to click on the link to the article.

Do you argue or fight (or discuss heatedly...whatever you want to call it!) in front of your children? I can tell you that Josh and I are NOTHING like our parents, and I won't go into much detail about what those dynamics were like. One of us understands the no fighting thing and how that affects how a person views relationships. The other understands once-every-five-years-fighting and how never discussing anything and then fighting ugly can affect how a person views relationships.

Most would agree that the situation from the first comment is not a good thing - to fight like that or discuss adult issues with a child. But do we also realize how detrimental it is to never fight or disagree in front of our children either? If they never see us argue or recognize that adults don't always agree, then they will think that marriages are just perfect - like the second commenter.

I guess I bring this up because I've often heard that parents shouldn't fight in front of their kids. Even though it's been tough around here at times, I can honestly say that Josh and I don't yell or call each other names when we're angry. I think it's good for our kids to see that things aren't always perfect. But if I can tell it's going to get a little too heated, I will make a point to stop and say, "We'd better do this later." Honestly, that's not very often (just the "too heated" part...don't get me wrong...we've disagreed in front of them...maybe more than some would think is ok).

I can say with 100% certainty, though, that I will never, ever tell my children what their dad is doing "wrong"...I have best friends for that, and that's where it should stay (I mean, if I need to vent, I will tell a best friend).

What is your fighting policy?


Anonymous said...

It sounds like Shannon and I have the same philosophy that you and Josh have. We NEVER name call (although sometimes that's hard for me to not drop a 'you're being a real jerk' in there sometimes) and we don't scream or rant and rave. During this remodel process, there is PLENTY to disagree on, and the kids basically get to see us disagree on stuff every day, but they also see us learn out to either negotiate or one of us let's the other one have his/her way. The other one doesn't walk away sulking or pouting or talking bad about the other one, you just win some, you lose some!

There are definitely times, ie: when I'm PMS'ing or I just feel like things might get ugly, when we have to call a halt and we discuss it later.

My parents NEVER fought in front of us, so my first reaction was always to leave/walk away. My husband wants to stay and talk about it right then and there. We've had to learn to compromise and LEARN how to work things out. After 14 years of marriage, I think we might actually sorta finally maybe be finally sorta understanding how to maybe communicate, a little ! ;)

Great post!!!

trooppetrie said...

i had a crappy childhood but the one thing my mom did right was NEVER say anything about my dad. so when my dad grew up and got his act together i had no ill feelings. it was amazing to get to know him without ill feelings

Kelley said...

Great post- it sure makes me think... I watched a lot of arguments growing up. They were usually petty, sometimes ugly (though not profane or violent), and always hard to live through. I hadn't really thought that much about what I thought relationships should be prior to marrying the first time. I thought it was normal to have that heart-wrenching feeling in your chest when a disagreement arose, to feel scared and insecure enough to concede. How thankful I am that my daughter was so little and was sheltered from much of that tumult. I eventually came to a point where I realized that being afraid that your husband will leave you is not a reason to allow yourself to be run into the ground, and I learned how to act like an adult and demand that others treat me that way as well.

As I met and got to know my current husband, I was being careful to choose someone who would be a great co-parent, someone that would teach my daughter how a woman should be treated (in happy times and disagreements). He and I disagree, and often. But we have mutual respect for one another, and that keeps our conversations to a debate format rather than a verbal assault of each other as people. :-)

We don't really have a fighter policy, but a list of elements we don't want to expose our children to (profanity, for instance). My kids see all our disagreements unless they center around topics that they don't need to worry about (money, sex, etc).

Bryan Rush said...

So i've decided to respond. I would say that if you had to.....HAD TO....pick one of the extremes, I would choose the fighting in front of the kids. But under the correct circumstances. First it shows kids the REALITY that people don't always get along. Second, parents should resolve the conflict and demonstrate the need that people have to work with each other in order for relationships to work. I think children are sheltered from too much of the reality of their parents lives and end up not knowing how to be an adult when it's time for them to grow up and maintain important relationships. I also think bringing children into a grown-up argument to pick sides is pretty childish in an of itself. My wife and I have rules of engagement:no yelling, we speak one at a time, no name calling, and most of all keep in mind that we need to settle this before it has time to fester and compromise our relationship. We've been at this marriage thing for ten years and I'm glad we operate this way.

Post a Comment