At this point in life, I think that we are all aware that conflict arises. We’re not all made the same way, so opinions can collide no matter who you are speaking with. Ironically, I have found through my experience that we tend to argue most with the people we love the most. Why is this? I’m not sure, but maybe it is because we can more easily vocalize our opinions to those people who we know the best and make us feel the most comfortable. Who knows?
The trickiest thing for me is dealing with conflict whenever it comes to Branden. I obviously want to teach him to respect other people’s opinions, but I also know that it’s important for him to be able to make his own points as well. It is a two way street that I want to show him, to not only be able to listen, but how to be heard. I guess whenever it’s all said and done, I want my son to be able to fight fair.
So then, how do we teach our children to fight fair? Through example right? Hmmm, that can tricky, because it brings on a whole new slew of questions, the main one being:
Is it okay for our children to see or hear us fight with our spouse?
Children idealize their parents, so whenever they witness them fighting, no matter how small or big the fight, it can scare them. I know that in my house, Branden gets overwhelmed and starts telling us “Shhhhhhhh” even when my husband and I are having a passionate conversation without conflict. To me, that is a pretty big message that strong emotions can be a big trigger for anxiety in children if we are not careful. But we do not want to present a false picture to our children either; so in my opinion, the proverbial rose-colored glasses are not the way to go.
In the past, the media was constantly reporting on how traumatic it can be for our children if they see us fighting. They have even gone as far as stating that it will damage our children. According to an article recently published on MSNBC, “experts have long cautioned that children can experience serious psychological harm if they witness their parents fighting. But a new study, published in the Journal of Child Psychiatry and Psychology, suggests that children might actually benefit from watching their parents sort problems out.”
During this study, the researchers interviewed both parents and teachers to help determine the impact that conflict within the home had on the children. The outcome of the study was that in homes where children had parents who fought constructively, the children turned out to be much more psychologically and emotionally healthy.
I have to say that I agree , as long as it is not extremely heated and the argument takes place without abuse of any kind (mental, verbal, or physical). In addition, there are obviously certain inappropriate topics about which you would want to refrain from fighting in front of your children, especially if the argument is about the child. Yet, with conflict being a part of life, I feel that children need to understand that fact and not be afraid of it. As long as Branden sees my husband and I fighting fair, I am perfectly comfortable. And by ”fighting fair,” I mean that if we disagree on a topic, both of us must be free to state our opinions regarding the subject and then demonstrate the ability to come to some sort of agreement at the end, even if the solution is simply to respectfully agree to disagree. As parents operating through these principles, we then set the example and set the stage for healthy fighting habits in our child’s future.
Conflict is inevitable throughout life, and there is no way to avoid it. If you just agree with everyone to appease them and avoid a confrontation, you will never be happy within yourself. Learning how to properly handle and deal with conflict directly and non-aggressively will not only help your closest relationships; it will also help teach your children how to maintain the important relationships in their lives.
So my dear Mamas, let’s try to visualize in our next spousal confrontation that our goal is to “sort problems out”! And let’s teach our children that it’s OK when others have different opinions; that’s what makes the world go round, after all!
Carroll, Linda. “It May Be OK to Fight in Front of the Kids – Health – Kids and Parenting – Msnbc.com.” Msnbc.com – Breaking News, Science and Tech News, World News, US News, Local News- Msnbc.com. Web. 23 July 2011.