When I think back to childhood I don’t remember my parents arguing very much. But that doesn’t mean they didn’t have arguments; I just don’t remember many of them. I’m not sure if that was intentional on their part or not, but things are different in our house. Our kids see us argue and they also see us apologize and make up. And while we’re not going to have every argument available for their consumption, I personally think that children should see us argue.
They should see us argue for a couple of reasons: it lets them know we’re not perfect and shows them how to resolve their issues.
But there are times when kids should be guarded against marital arguments. Those times include when the arguments have gotten out of hand because you’re likely to do far more harm than good. Kids should never see you abuse one another as that can be incredibly traumatizing for them. But what they can and should see is two adults working through an argument in a way that teaches them a good way to work through their own conflicts. The idea here is to model healthy behavior so your children can have a real and live example.
It’s also important to note that if you allow your children to see you argue that you should also have a conversation with them about what happened and reassure them that you and your spouse are okay. Sometimes kids get really nervous about their parents breaking up and any disagreement can create discomfort for them. If you have children like this then it’s probably best to avoid arguing much in front of them. Either way, engaging in dialogue with your children after an argument is a great way to talk about normal human interaction and is also a great way to apologize to them if you allowed them to see one of your messy arguments.
I remember once my husband lost his temper and said some things he later apologized to me for, but he also apologized to our children because they heard those things too. And I’ve done the same. We’re always working to improve as a couple and as parents so extending grace in these moments is incredibly important. We’re not perfect and we won’t get every moment of every day right, however, even in our imperfect moments we can teach our children. So, let no moment go to waste. Use every opportunity to teach your children how to handle conflict in a mature and loving way.
What are your thoughts? Do you think children should see their parents have a disagreement?