Let me start by saying that in no way do I encourage or approve of any type of abuse, verbal or otherwise. That is not what this post is about. With that said, here is why I believe that parents should argue in front of their children (to a certain extent - I cannot stress that point enough).
Yes, the topic sounds controversial and provocative, and yes, many people will strongly disagree with my stance. But I promise there is rationale behind this, so keep reading.
Disagreement is a natural part of life. We are never going to agree with everyone about everything because it's literally impossible. We are all raised with different beliefs, customs and traditions that should be celebrated for their uniqueness and diversity. If everyone agreed about everything, the world would never advance. There is so much value in listening to other perspectives because that is how we grow as individuals. I can’t even begin to tell you how many times I catch myself saying “I would have never thought it like that”...so where am i going with this?
A couple years ago I was in a therapy session desperately trying to understand why I had such a fear of conflict. Why did I work so hard to keep the waters calm and make sure everyone was happy? After all, I had my own feisty personality and didn't think of myself as a complete pushover. But more and more I began to see I would do anything and everything in my power to avoid conflict. I hated the idea of someone I cared about being upset with me and would try to squash every little squabble before it could manifest. Not to mention I would spontaneously burst into tears if you raised your voice at me (and I'm really not one that cries a lot). Interestingly enough, I found this to be particularly the case with my significant others over the years.
So, I sat there on my therapist's plush green sofa, baffled at how I came to be this way. My mind was spinning with confusion as I tried to search long and hard for any type of traumatic event in my past that may help me understand my fear of conflict. But there was nothing. Literally nothing. I went on to explain how fortunate I felt to grow up in a family surrounded by so much love and support and unlike many of my friends, my parents didn't fight.
And there it was...the light bulb moment!
My therapist had to stop me because I entirely missed the point. Like many things, that one flew right over my head. But she went on to explain that because my parents never fought in front of me I never learned what healthy conflict and resolution looked like in a relationship. My mind was blown! The answer was so simple. I didn't fear conflict because something traumatic happened in the past, I feared conflict because I didn't have the skills to deal with it.
Children learn an insane amount from their parents, including how to deal with situations. It is vital that children learn what it looks like to not only have a healthy dispute with someone but also how to resolve that dispute in a respectful and loving way. You're not helping them by ‘never fighting in front of the kids’. Yes, there are many complexities to this point. I am not advocating for you to be screaming in front of your children and will never support any type of physical altercation. But you get the point. Children need both sides of the coin. The conflict and the resolution. Our behaviors as adults so often model what we experienced as children. The lack of that experience left me unprepared for those situations, resulting in very few productive outcomes. Believe it or not, it makes it hard to have a healthy discussion when one party is having an unconsolable waterworks moment.
If we can agree that disagreement is a natural part of life, we need to equip our children with the skills to successfully navigate what they inevitably face in the future. We teach our children to have their own opinions and to stand up for what they believe in which is wonderful. However they need the skills to reach the resolution phase when conflict arises.
See, that wasn't so bad, was it?
Disclaimer: Please note, all information on The Cheeky Life is not intended as medical advice or as a substitute for professional care. The intention of this blog is to connect with the community and share my personal experiences with mental health, eating disorders, and life in general.