All children are exposed to parents’ arguments. Some parents quarrel frequently and openly without considering their children’s reactions, and other parents argue in private. Yet none can hide the fact that they disagree. Kids are aware of yelling and arguments going on even behind closed bedroom doors.
When parents argue in front of their child, they may frighten him. He may go to sleep scared and go to school worried. He may also take sides and yell at the parent he believes is at fault. “Stop yelling. Don’t keep fighting!”
He may blame himself for his parents’ arguments and think, “If I put my toys away, Mommy and Daddy won’t be mad.” Such wishful, magical ideas are very real and powerful.
If you argue in front of your child, consider his feelings. He’ll become quite upset if you and your spouse are loud and insult each other. Control your accusations and unkind words and give thought to the impact your arguments have on him.
Remember that your child considers you a model. Every day, you show him how adults and couples behave. If you and your spouse don’t treat each other with respect, if you yell, belittle each other, and argue constantly, your child may eventually copy your behavior.
You may even find that he’s imitating your behavior now. If he’s been exposed to frequent blaming and discord, he might treat his siblings in ways you find unacceptable. You may find yourself demanding, “Don’t treat your brother that way. That’s not nice,” or “Don’t talk to your sister like that.”
If you and your spouse argue frequently, consider seeking professional counseling. When you’re able to get along more harmoniously, your entire family will benefit.