Arguing in front of the kids. As long as I can remember, I’ve thought it was a bad thing. At least, I heard that it was a bad thing and accepted the fact: it made sense after all. But now there’s new research to say that it may be a good thing – a means of equipping kids to deal with the realities of life and giving them examples of how to manage conflict. And yet, I have to say that I’m not convinced.
First though, we should define the term “argument.” I’m not talking a civil, controlled rational discussion about the point of disagreement (this would be a great lesson in conflict resolution). I’m talking raised voices: a verbally aggressive, insult-throwing, and possibly object-throwing, screaming match or anything worse, that’s unlikely to end in a pleasant way.
This is a situation where a couple are acting anything but lovingly towards each other. And I think this is going to hurt a young child – it shakes their foundations and their sense of security, to see the most stable and important parts of their life having a go at each other.
Another objection that I have to parents arguing in front of their kids is the lack of unity it promotes. I socialise with a lot of couples and the ones that have the strongest, healthiest relationships have one big thing in common: they don’t argue in front of anyone else, or speak badly of each other. All couples argue, true, but I really feel that this should be a private thing. And kids are bound to learn that from their parents.
As for the claim that children can learn how to deal with conflict from their parents – this certainly could be true. Especially if both said parents were perfect, and always followed the rules of ideal communication when they disagreed. But let’s be real – who’s like that? To be frank, arguing in front of the kids is probably going to teach them more about what not to do, and I think it’s better not to risk it. After all, only when they’re older are they going to be aware of what tactics work and which tactics should be avoided – younger children on the other hand are just going to interpret this as the norm.
To finish up, here’s a less logic-backed thought and more of a sentiment – why kill the ideal, innocent beauty of childhood? Why not let them focus on the good in the world for a little longer, rather than awaken them to sadder realities? If keeping the fights behind closed doors will help with that, then all the better, really!
What are your thoughts? Should parents argue in front of the kids or not?