Don't Stop Arguing In Front Of Your Kids

Don't Stop Arguing in Front of Your Kids

In a recent post, Dr Phil (yeah, I know) argued that you should stop fighting in front of your kids. He's right, but he misses an important point: having regular arguments in front of your kids can teach them a lot.

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I don't really know why I was reading a blog post from Dr Phil, but it was a subject I'd been thinking about recently anyway. And here's the short of it: people argue. People who love each other and live together get into arguments. Sometimes those arguments are about something important and sometimes they aren't.

When you make it a point to never argue in front of your kids, you are wasting several valuable teaching opportunities:

  • People who love each other argue sometimes. Kids need to learn that it's natural. It doesn't mean you've stopped loving each other. It doesn't have to mean your relationship is in trouble. It's just something that happens when people live in close quarters and share a lot of responsibility.
  • You can argue respectfully. If you and your partner can tame the screaming and avoid the insults and name-calling, your arguments will be more productive and you'll feel better afterward. Teaching your kids those same techniques is important.
  • Arguments get resolved. Many couples send their kids out of the room when an argument begins. I can understand the impulse, but think about what you're really doing. You're letting kids see how arguments get started, but not how they get resolved, and there's a lot of important stuff that happens during that resolution.

Now I understand that some conversations are inappropriate for kids. I'm not suggesting you call your kids into the room before confronting a cheating spouse. And you're not going to do really young kids any favours by letting them witness interactions they're not yet equipped to understand.

I'm just suggesting that if an argument starts, or you think one is about to, don't worry so much about banishing the kids to their rooms. Let them see how it all works. They're totally listening to you through the door anyway.


    Agree totally. My parents would go for days giving each other the silent treatment, silently fuming, thinking it was better than arguing in front of us kids. It was far worse for us than if they'd had a brief argument. I think as long as there's no yelling or abusive words it is fine to argue in front of kids, but the clincher is they must always be there to see you resolve the argument too.

    On a related topic, learn when to argue and when to hang it up.

    If, for instance, you're annoyed at your partner for making you late to dinner at a friend's house - letting it go will increase enjoyment of the night for you, reduce awkwardness for your friend and nip something in the bud that in the grand scheme of things doesn't deserve days of frostiness because a little annoyance turned into the two of you being dicks to each other. It's possible to feel cranky about something and not turn it into a fight.

    There's degrees of argument. Dr Phil is clearly talking about the screaming, name-calling kind in the blog post, you're talking about the reasonable disagreement kind.

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