By Sharon Jackson
The New York Times Blog featured an article, “It’s Ok To Let Your Children Fight.” Click here to read the full article. Conflict in any form is always a delicate matter to navigate well, and when children are involved, it requires even more skill.
Psychiatrist, Barbara Bartlik, M.D. had this to say about fighting in front of children: “Some children are traumatized by hearing their parents argue, especially when the arguments turn abusive or violent. The effect on children is worse when they are the subject of the dispute. Often, they assume that their parents are arguing about them, even when they are not.”
“Elizabeth Weil in her article,”It’s O.K. for Children to See Their Parents Fight?,” points out that exposing children to a certain amount of arguing may actually be beneficial. It teaches children to stand up for themselves, and that their feelings are important. This is particularly meaningful for girls, who hesitate to express their opinions. Children of both genders learn how to compromise and negotiate by observing their parents argue constructively. They also realize that parents can have very different opinions, while continuing to love and respect one another. In addition, children find it reassuring when their parents make up.”
“I tell the couples I treat in therapy that they should reassure their children that it is normal for parents to argue, that even when they are angry they still love one another, and that the children are not the reason for the argument.”