Dear Helen, my husband and I sometimes have small arguments and we raise our voices and get a bit cheeky with one another. It does not represent a problem in our relationship, however, I often think about how it affects the children because sometimes they are present and can hear noise and feel the tension. Should we be more careful when arguing? Are those little arguments negatively affecting our children?
Every couple has marital disagreements sometimes. The important thing is in what way you solve these disagreements. If parents conduct a calm and constructive discussion, the child can learn that two people living together can have different opinions, but listen to each other to find a satisfactory solution. These discussions can even be very educational for children, as long as you know how to keep the discussion constructive. From this approach, children can learn that it is alright for someone to feel angry, but also that each of us can take responsibility for our own feelings, apologize and try to find a satisfactory solution. However, if one of you gets frustrated and the discussion turns into a fight (with harsh words, accusations, insults, etc.), this can have a very negative impact on the child. The experiences children acquire in their families have a powerful and long-lasting impact on behavior patterns at a later age and the quality of relationships that a child builds with other people in their environment. In this context, parents have a particularly important role, as the most influential model for norms and acceptable behaviors. Reactions and parents’ behavior serve as a roadmap for a child’s action. If a child frequently hears fights, in time it will consider this behavior as something that is quite acceptable. Therefore, parents need to keep in mind that what they do and say, especially the way they address each other, strongly influences the child, the development of its self-esteem, socio-emotional development and future relationships. When parents fight, children feel tension and hostility. Children express these feelings in different ways. Even if they do not want to show them, these feelings are seen on the children's faces and in their body language without saying a single word. Therefore, there should be no fighting in the presence of children. If there is a problem that may arise into a fight, it is best to talk about it when the children are not at home. However, generally the best thing that you as parents can do for your children is to be a healthy example and always communicate constructively and with respect to each other. Mutual respect for all family members creates an environment that provides good conditions to meet the needs of all and provides children with a good model that will be able to serve them in their own families.