All couples disagree/argue/fight. It happens, whether people want to admit it or not. And guess what? It’s healthy to argue and disagree, if you can do so appropriately. So let’s look at the pros and cons of arguing in front of your kids.
- Pro: It normalizes arguing. If your child NEVER sees their parents disagree or argue, they may grow up with unrealistic expectations and think they should never argue with a partner/friend/spouse.
- Con: It can cause stress on kiddos. I’ve had lots of kiddos disclose to me seeing parents argue or fight, and feeling worried about it.
- Pro (if you can argue in a healthy way): you get to model for your kids what healthy disagreements and resolutions look like – having you as an example makes it more likely that they can be healthy arguers.
- Con (if you can not argue in a healthy way): you set a bad example of arguing, which makes it way more likely that your kids won’t learn how to argue or disagree in a healthy way.
- Pro (for caregivers): it might help you argue in a more healthy way if you have an audience. Knowing that the children are watching might motivate you to disagree appropriately.
- Con: if the kiddos are around, it can be easier to pull them into the argument, which can have a negative effect on the child’s emotional state.
So to argue or not to argue (in front of your kids)? My opinion is that it’s Ok to argue/disagree in front of kids, ONLY as long as you can do so calmly and appropriately. What does “appropriately” mean? I like these rules I found online:
IF you can argue and stick to these rules, I don’t see anything wrong with arguing in front of your children. As mentioned before, everyone disagrees and argues. If you can do so following the rules above, you’ll be setting a good example of disagreeing appropriately. IF you CANNOT stick to the rules above, table the discussing/arguing/disagreeing for later. IF you find yourself in the middle of a disagreement in front of the kids and realize you (or your spouse) is not capable of following the rules above, STOP and take a break. You can say something like, “I cannot talk about this calmly right now. Let’s talk about it after the kids have gone to bed.” A statement like that is also a great thing to model for children!