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As parents, we do a lot of silly things because let’s face it, we’re still learning, too! That being said, out of all the things we could possibly do to damage our children, fighting in front of them is definitely up there.
But Parents Fight
Though it is perfectly normal for parents to have points of contention between them from time to time, the way these are dealt with is important. Even when conflict seems unmanageable between two partners, taking part in activities like couples counselling can help mitigate damages. This also help prevent extra drama from unfolding in front of the children.
But we’re Not Fighting with Them
Of course you aren’t fighting them. Many parents flaunt the old argument, “I might fight with my partner but I never take it out on the kids”. The fact of the matter is whether you realize it or not, where your kids are concerned, you are doing damage.
How it Effects the Kids
There are numerous way in which fighting with each other in front of your children effects them as proven by research. Here are some of them.
Makes them Insecure
A child’s sense of safety comes partly from stability between the parents and within the home. When your kids see you fighting, that sense of security is threatened. No matter how much you reassure them, actions speak louder.
If the home environment does not feel safe, neither does the child. Damage is done.
Make them Feel Responsible
Children often feel that they are they cause for their parents fighting. They cannot comprehend or appreciate the deeper dynamics associated with such things and hence chalk it up to it being their fault.
This creates feelings of low self-esteem and worthlessness that carry forward well into adulthood if not addressed.
Normalizes and Role Models Questionable Behavior
Let’s face it, none of us are our best when we’re losing our tempers or in the middle of a fight. We say ugly things and sometimes behave just as badly.
For a child, you’re basically tearing down their image of acceptable and replacing it with acceptance of the most toxic behaviors. You normalize the worst of yourself.
Affects their Personalities
The kind of stress and trauma that a child experiences when parents fight can only really be appreciated by the child going through it and the adult in therapy. It is so much that it makes them develop unhealthy interactions, coping mechanisms and behaviors just to get by.
As children, this might look like bad personal hygiene, erratic behavior, a drop in grades or increased aggression.
As adults, what these look like is dysfunction, problems with rage, mood disorders, depression and addiction to name a few.
Affects Their Relationships
When children see parents fighting time and again, two things happen. One, they have trouble trusting love and affection. Two, they associate intimacy with conflict.
These subconscious realizations, or changes, result in high levels of dysfunction in future relationships and family life.
Working through the Trauma
Sometimes we do things because we, ourselves have had a hard time growing up. Maybe our parents were not as well informed as we were.
As adults, we are well informed and highly aware. Further, the tools by which to change and better ourselves are available to us.
Counselling can help us unravel damages that have been done and ensure that our childhood traumas do not continue to hurt us and those we care about. If you’re looking for a reliable therapist who works with anxiety and conductsrelationship and family counselling sessions in Palo Alto, you have options.
Azizeh E. Rezaiyan is a highly qualified and licensed therapist working with both English and Farsi speaking clients with over two decades of experience with individuals and couples alike.