Let’s be honest: most of us have seen adults argue when we were children. Whether it be with a friend, family member or partner/spouse. You were probably told to “stay in a child’s place”. On the flipside, maybe you never saw your parents or any adults disagreeing in front of you. It’s possible that they felt that you were not emotionally equipped to handle the complexities of the issue at hand. Moreover, most adults choose to not argue in front of children because of possible anxiety and stress factors.
However, it turns out that arguing in front of your children is not a bad thing.
When we choose to only have disagreements away from our children we are teaching them that they do not happen. We are not giving them the proper tools to handle confrontation or a true representation of how relationships work.
Confrontation happens every day. You will not always agree with your partner. Your friend will not always want to do what you want to do. That co-worker who rubs you the wrong way will not always be avoidable at work.
In fact, disagreeing in front of your children regularly will inadvertently teach them that it is okay when a person does not agree with you.
In my family, we do not run from confrontation. We face it head one. I was told so many times by different people that I was difficult and aggressive. I won’t deny that I am assertive, but I realized that a lot of people never saw adults disagree in front of them. So, they have this romanticized and fairytale belief about disagreements in relationships.
Arguing is not bad. You can disagree with someone regularly as long as you do it respectfully.
An argument is simply a disagreement between two people. If you automatically associate an argument as two people yelling and disrespecting one another, then it may be time to revisit why that is your definition for it.
When you choose to disagree with your partner in front of your children and do it respectfully you are setting a standard for your child.
“Argue like you’re right and listen like you’re wrong,” says Adam Grant, a professor, and organizational psychologist at the Wharton School of Business.
“If we rarely see a spat, we learn to shy away from the threat of conflict. Witnessing arguments — and participating in them — helps us grow a thicker skin,” he writes. “We develop the will to fight uphill battles and the skill to win those battles, and the resilience to lose a battle today without losing our resolve tomorrow.”
When you decide to have conflicts in front of your children, make sure that they see you both develop a resolution as well. Afterwards, make-up with the person. Whether it be with a hug, kiss or friendly smile. This is the key component of modeling conflict resolution for your children. If they only see the disagreement, then they will have a negative understanding of confrontation. On the other hand, when they see the resolution from a disagreement, they will develop creative and compromising ways to handle conflict.
Check out my Relationships section for more of this series!
C O N N E C T – W I T H – M E