fighting in front of kids

Photo by Marchal

I come from a feisty, Italian-American family, so when I was a kid and my parents fought, I stayed in my room and laid low. Usually doors slammed, tears were shed, and hugs and kisses came hours later. It was once believed that children who were exposed to fighting parents were more anxious and behaved badly (no comment). But a new study by the Journal of Child Psychiatry and Psychology suggests that arguing constructively in front of your kids can actually be a good thing.

 

 

Conflict in any relationship is inevitable, according to Patrick Davies, professor of psychology at the University of Rochester and co-author of the study, but the key word is constructive.

Linda Carroll interviewed Davies and other experts for an article on MSNBC (How Dare You?! When Mom and Dad Disagree) about the difference between constructive and destructive arguments. Destructive arguments involve verbal abuse, physical aggression, and the silent treatment. Constructive arguments, on the other hand, involve respecting each other's opinions and coming to a compromise. This may sound like common sense, but the next time your significant other pushes your last button, you might want a refresher. The kids of parents who fought constructively showed "pro-social" behaviors and exhibited more empathy for others.

How do you handle arguments in front of your kids?