The Wall Street Journal had a great story this week about: Is it OK to fight in front of the kids? The conclusion of the author was that if done in a very specific way, fighting in front of your kids can actually help them feel more emotionally secure and can help them develop better problem-solving skills.
“The answer is complicated. Child psychologists who study the issue tend to say yes—if parents can manage to argue in a healthy way. That means disagreeing respectfully and avoiding name-calling, insults, dredging up past infractions or storming off in anger, for starters.
“Kids are going to have disagreements with their friends, their peers, co-workers,” says Patrick Davies, a professor of psychology at the University of Rochester. “If they don’t witness disagreements and how they are handled in constructive ways, they are not well-equipped to go out into the world and address inevitable conflict.”
“Dr. Davies and fellow researchers found that “constructive” marital conflict was associated with an increase in children’s emotional security, in their study of 235 families with children ages 5 to 7 published in 2009 in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry. Other studies have linked constructive marital conflict with the healthy development of children’s problem-solving and coping skills and even happiness….”
Some experts doubt that parents can fight in the right way and should keep it behind close doors.
“Still, beyond universal agreement against physical confrontation, opinions vary on the right approach. Some experts say parents should keep arguments away from children because it’s just too hard to fight well. “If [parents] are going to have disagreements, they should do that in private as much as possible,” says Thomas McInerny, president of the American Academy of Pediatrics. “It is the rare instance when [couples] can keep it rational and keep it calm.”
The Journal had suggestions for “good” fighting in a graphic in the print edition. It recommended:
I was recently talking to Walsh about the importance of being kind to everyone, and I said I hope you see us model that for you. His reply was, “Well I see you do it to everyone else but each other.”
So that will make you stop and think. Maybe we need to be more kind to each other – especially when we are fighting.
Do you fight in front of the kids? Does it seem to upset them? Do you have “rules” for fighting? Do you think you would introduce any of these fighting strategies to your household? What fights do you remember your parents having?