Put as directly as possible – no. No it isn’t.
…But this isn’t a simple question. What’s the fight about? How old are the kids? Do the young ones even understand what’s going on?
Frankly, none of those questions matter. It’s not OK to fight in front of the kids about any topic, no matter what age they are or how much (or little) they understand the issue. The point is that the fights you have with your spouse affect them directly, threatening the stability of the home, and potentially teaching them bad habits that will stick with them for years.
Now, that’s not to say that you can’t disagree… But you have to be conscious of how you approach the conflict. We aren’t going to get along all the time, and you shouldn’t have to pretend that things are always perfect. However, making a point to have civil, rational discussions instead of full-blown arguments is critical for your kids’ wellbeing!
When things get heated – complete with shouting and slamming doors – it can get pretty scary for children, causing them to withdraw emotionally, feel fearful around their parents, feel unwelcome or unsafe, and all sorts of other terrible emotional responses.
Even if the kids are off in another room, or it doesn’t seem like they’re paying attention – they absolutely see and hear what’s going on between you and your spouse. You are constantly influencing the way they see the world, the way they see you, and the way they feel about themselves.
So, with all of this in mind, it’s all about HOW you contend with spousal disagreements. When things begin to get heated, it’s actually on opportunity to teach your kids some valuable lessons. First, they can see how you take control of your emotional responses, stepping away for a moment to let things cool down, apologizing for reacting harshly, and so on.
You can also show them how to look past a single conflict and make up with a person they care about.
If you can learn to handle your disagreements with self control, emotional maturity, and a focus on resolution, not only are you protecting your kids from unnecessary fear and emotional harm, you’re also teaching them valuable skills they can carry with them forever.
The next time you feel your temper flare up, keep these things in mind. Even if the kids aren’t around, it’s still the healthiest way to deal with conflict.
For more advice on how to strengthen your marriage, check out the StrongMarriageNow System today!
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Dr. Dana Fillmore and Amy Barnhart, co-Founders, StrongMarriageNow.com