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When Parents Argue

Some people believe that parents should never argue in front of their children. Others think it is good for children to see their parents arguing. They contend that children need to learn that people do argue. They may even reason that in this way children can learn to resolve conflicts.

The reality is that most children, at some point, will see their parents argue. Whether they learn a valuable lesson or experience worry will depend on what they see and hear.

Arguments can upset both adults and children. Chil­dren are especially vulnerable to emotional hurt from seeing their parents argue. They can develop feelings of anger, fear, and guilt. Anger—because arguments can disrupt family life. Fear—that a parent will walk out or that there will be a divorce and the family will dissolve. And guilt—because children may think they are the cause of arguments.

It is especially upsetting for children to see one par­ent physically or verbally attack the other parent. It is likewise hurtful for a child to be drawn into an argu­ment or to be forced to take a side in the conflict.

Parents need to settle disagreements without yelling. They should send their children to another part of the house so they will not have to witness all that is said. Remember, parents always serve as role models to their children. Children learn both good and bad lessons by observing their parents.

Parents need to try to settle arguments as quickly and quietly as possible. And, as in all things, “Let your gentleness be evident to all” (Philippians 4:5). When the argument is over, children will look for some assur­ance that mom and dad have worked out their prob­lem. This is also an excellent time for parents to pray with their children, asking God to bless the family by restoring its relationships to peace and harmony. Any parent who has violated one of God’s commandments should apologize for words or actions that were not God pleasing.

Parents need to realize that their arguing is very likely a sign that their marital relationship is under stress. All parents need to work on their marriages. Strong marital relationships will produce solid foundations for positive family relationships.

From Patient Parenting © 2006 Northwestern Publishing House. All rights reserved

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