Is arguing in front of your children ever a good thing? Is it healthy for them to see conflict and know life isn’t like a Disney film, or does it cause them unnecessary upset and stress that we as parents should shelter them from? It’s something I’ve gone back and forth on since I became a mum.
As a child my own mum and dad rarely argued in front of us, apart from the odd normal disagreement. Queue me hitting adulthood and suddenly it was ok for them to shout and say harsh words when we were around and I was suddenly flung from feeling I grew up in a happy family to thinking it was all a lie. When I questioned my mum she told me they had decided never to argue in front of us as my dad had grown up with it himself and didn’t want it for us. As an adult I then felt like they lied to us and that I was unprepared for conflict as an adult.
Now I am a mum myself I understand why my parents protected us, you want to do anything you can to shield your children from anything that could upset them or hurt them and would move heaven and earth to do so. The reality, though, isn’t always possible.
Recently my husband and I had a huge row and the children were around. We tried to contain it to a seperate room but they did keep coming in and out and I’ve no doubt they heard the odd raised voice and saw me upset. And I feel guilty. But now I’ve looked back and reflected, is it a bad thing? Growing up very sheltered myself, I had a huge shock once I hit adulthood and I still struggle with conflicts in my adult life. It’s something I don’t want my children to go through and I want to prepare them for real life as much as I can. So if hearing the odd row is part of their lives I really don’t think it will be detrimental. We would never have them in a situation where they feel threatened and we don’t make it a regular occurrence at all. But if they hear mummy and daddy arguing sometimes, then that is ok. After all, they row between them themselves. Life is not always plain sailing and they will come across conflict, making them aware that it is part of everyday life ensures it doesn’t come as a shock to them one day and that they are emotionally prepared for it.
I’m aware though, that this opinion is probably not a popular one. I think it really depends on what you deem an argument and whether that escalates to a level that is obviously not suitable for a child to be around. I decided to open it up to a few other bloggers to get their opinions, and found there were opinions for both sides of the fence. Here’s what they had to say:
My parents argued in front of me, apologised in front of me, kissed and made up in front of me. I think it’s import that kids see that a disagreement isn’t the end of the world. That is life and grown ups can argue but still like each other. Naomi at Tattooed Mummy
Emma at Babies & Beauty says: If we’re in a bit of a grump with each other we tend to keep quiet and live by the motto if you don’t have anything nice to say don’t say anything at all. However if we were to disagree in front of my sons, I would be sure to rectify it in front of them too so they understand that you must work through your differences.
Lizzie at First Tooth agrees: No we don’t argue in front of our children we have a code word for when we need to put a conversation on the back burner. I don’t mind them seeing us disagree but if we were to ever argue I’d never let the kids see. I’d rather they saw us as the strong family unit that we are.
On the other side of the fence, Sarah at Keep Up With The Jones Family says: My boys know that just like they get annoyed with each other, we do too sometimes. We want them to know that it’s a normal part of life, and that they aren’t the end of the world, or our love for each other. As we get older we think our children don’t notice when we are keeping things in – and bottling up emotions, but they’re so aware. I want our boys to see us work issues through, not feel like they are on eggshells and not know why.
Debbie at An Organised Mess also feels arguments are ok: My children share our personalities so they need to learn how to make their emotions work for them. Saying that, it’s been a long time (maybe 2 years) since we argued, and I think that’s ok too- for me it’s all about making relationships work and I think that in itself is important for children to understand.
My daughter once said ‘mummy why are you and daddy shouting with each other’ and it broke my heart. Lucy at Real Mum Review
Several people admitted they did argue but wished they didn’t:
Chelsea at Just Chelsea M: I do. But totally not on purpose. I hate myself and I know me and my husband are both working on it. I don’t like that we do it.
And Laura from Five Little Doves adds: In a perfect world I would say no, but there are times when we do and I always feel bad about it afterwards.
And there were the odd ones who don’t argue at all:
This might sound crazy but we don’t ever argue. We say the occasional cross word (which is rare) but have never raised our voices to each other. I think shouting often in front of children is damaging. Amy at Amy Treasure
We don’t, but don’t really ever argue. We are both sulkers though which helps. I used to absolutely hate my dad and step-mother fighting and I think it had a huge impact on me. Even now I don’t like conflict. I think it’s important for children to see that we don’t agree on everything and that we find ways to work things out. Sian at Helpful Mum
At the end of the day, we all do what we feel is best for our children and our family unit. What are your thoughts, do you argue in front of your children or do you feel it is harmful?