Just a few days ago, my husband and I got in a fairly heated argument while the kids were around but in another room. There was no name calling, but we were definitely not using our inside voices.
And in the middle of it all, as we saw our kids look over the staircase at us in the kitchen with their wide eyes, my husband said to me, "We shouldn't fight in front of the kids," to which I responded, "No, actually, I think sometimes it's good for them to see us argue." And here's why.
Growing up, the only arguments I ever heard my parents have were awful, abusive fights that a few times ended with the police being called. And so in my mind, happy couples never argued at all; there was no in-between. All or nothing.
So when I found myself disagreeing with my spouse or wanting to speak my mind in a way that wasn't nasty but just assertive, I felt like I had somehow failed in my relationship. And I certainly do not want my kids to feel that way.
I now know that in a healthy relationship, both people should feel free to express themselves and their emotions -- as appropriately as possible of course.
Don't get me wrong. My first choice in a perfect world would probably be to discuss issues I have with my husband when my kids aren't around. And if it has anything to do WITH the kids, you can bet we wouldn't talk about it in front of them.
But I'm not perfect. I'm human and hormonal, and sometimes I need to address something right when it happens. And I feel as though the kids will actually be better for hearing it in the long run, especially if apologies are exchanged when it's over.
When we fight in front of them, we're setting a good example on how relationships work: we disagree, we argue, we make up.
I definitely think it's important to talk to the kids about it too, reminding them that Mom and Dad care about each other deeply, we just don't always agree on everything.
The best part is that in fighting in front of my kids, I'm much more aware of what I'm saying and how I'm saying it because I know they're listening, which actually makes our arguments much shorter and more effective.
I won't be fighting in front of my children all the time, but if it does happen, I'm not going to feel bad about it. Part of being a good parent is showing my kids how relationships work. Unfortunately, I never got that as a child, and I know I've suffered greatly because of it.
Do you fight in front of your kids?
Image via Spencers Brook Farm/Flickr