The Right Way to Argue with Your Partner in Front of Your Children
When I mentioned to my husband that I wanted to write a post on the best way to argue with your partner in front of your children, he laughed and said, “Don’t!” And he didn’t mean “don’t write the post,” he actually meant that the best way to argue is NOT to.
Well, hello, welcome to reality.
There is a literal impossibility that kids are going to make it through their lives without witnessing their parents disagree, argue, and maybe even fight. And I’d like to argue (no pun intended!) that it’s actually incredibly beneficial to allow our children to observe healthy argument and disagreement.
First of all, if you are having ugly fights with your partner, then my husband’s advice is actually the way to go – don’t do it in front of your kids. Also, we encourage seeking out supports to help guide you toward more healthy communication with your partner (Read: For Best Results: Prioritize Your Relationship with Your Co-Parent).
Not even for your kids’ sake, but for your own. Like we have talked about in other posts, we become our children’s biggest examples of adulthood, relationships, communication, etc. If you are hurling expletives at your partner, degrading them, calling names, or even enduring days of silent treatment from each other, then your children are going to learn those behaviors and use them in their own future relationships.
Don’t make those undesirable behaviors okay, because we are simply passing them all down to the next generation.
It’s incredibly beneficial to allow our children to observe healthy argument and disagreement.
Secondly, it’s okay to have healthy arguments in front of your kids so that they can learn the way that they should do it. They need to learn how to provide space for the partner to have an opinion and voice, to respectfully acknowledge the partner’s point of view, and to counter without blaming or pointing fingers.
Your children can learn to use “I” statements rather than making their partner immediately defensive with “you” statements. And when I say partner, I don’t just mean your child’s eventual romantic partner when they are an adult; I mean their friends in grade school, their crush in middle school, their boy/girlfriend in high school.
People in relationships (romantic or otherwise) disagree, communicate, resolve conflict, etc. If you model for your children the best ways that they can do that, then you are setting them up for successful relationships in their future.
Thirdly, allow your children to see resolution of conflict. When the two most important people in your child’s life are arguing, it can be very unsettling for that child.
Children are constantly forming concepts about the world. When their parents are in conflict, they can begin to question the foundation of their own relationship with their parents. Is there something that I could do that would make my mom that upset with me? When I pushed my brother this morning, did my dad stop loving me the way he’s not loving my mom right now?
Oftentimes as parents, we allow our emotions to overtake and we get much more heated in front of our children than we would like. Then, we probably give the silent treatment until after the kids are in bed, until we can resolve the conflict in private. And sometimes that is necessary as the type of communication required for resolution may be too intense to be accomplished while chasing kids around the house.
However, try to make a point the next day to display an act of affection in front of the kids in the morning. Maybe even sprinkle an explanation through breakfast if possible; what the argument was about, how resolution was achieved, etc.
Sometimes just making it through the day is a total win, and we absolutely get that. We are not perfect – we 100% have had arguments with our partner in front of our kids that we wish we could have done differently.
All we can hope is that we are learning, growing, and continuing to be the best example for our kids, so that they can live lives filled with love and happiness.