Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : March 30th 2018 Contents B24 care
Friday, March 30, 2018
It’s Good to
Argue in Front
of The Kids
’ve argued with my husband
in front of our kids and I
think they are better for it.
Yes, you read this right.
I’m not talking about a nasty
fight, where pots are flying and
fists are pumping, but the run of
the mill one, where hunger, frus-
tration, mess, stress and exhaus-
tion have hijacked your last nerve
and your partners comments or
actions become the tipping point.
I’ve often wondered if any par-
ent has the presence of mind, the
control and restraint to not “lose
it’ in front of their kids?
I know the answer to that ques-
tion, my husband’s parents. He
told me once, he has never ob-
served his parents have even one
disagreement in front of him.
I felt extremely unsettled when
I first heard this. I also found it
extremely difficult to wrap my
head around the fact arguments,
disagreements, fights, call it what
you may, could be so well hidden
or even absent from a home.
Take two people, socialized
completely differently, whose
unique experiences formed their
individual values, ideas and be-
liefs. Now, put them both together
under the same roof and you have
a situation ripe with conflict.
Conflict is not something that
we tend to value in our society.
We have been socialized towards
a deep aversion to CONFLICT.
We avoid it at all costs, we smile
when we don’t feel like smiling,
we speak quietly and we suppress
our true feelings...often.
In fact, many of our most valua-
ble emotions have been relegated
to the naughty pile.
I’ve stopped seeing those mo-
ments as a “Bad Parent” experi-
ences and recognize that my kids
are developing skills they would
never have without it. So, instead
of reprimanding myself and think-
ing how awful I am, I switched
my mind onto the opportunities
which allow my kids to be ex-
posed to more of conflict.
Because conflict occurs on the
playground, in class, with the
teacher, in the home, at the neigh-
bour’s house and all throughout
their adult life. Why should we
shield, hide or deny it when con-
flict is a great teacher? Kids build
resilience, they grow from their
mistakes, it requires them to re-
flect, empathize and negotiate to
find a resolution and develop tol-
erance and forgiveness first hand.
Like a muscle, this skill needs
to be developed and it never will
if parents manage all conflict on a
child’s behalf because parents are
worrying whether their child will
• Eliminate all his friends
• Make enemies on the play-
• Make them look like bad par-
for even a fraction of a second.
Nor will it develop if you think
they see Mom and Dad all sun-
shine and sparkles 24/7.
Often parents get tense wanting
to hide conflicts or fights from
their child and the resolution is
done out of your child’s sight.
Even giving the silent treatment
or other forms of passive aggres-
sive, fighting is never truly hidden
from kids. Kids are way too smart
Studies have shown that when
a child observes conflict (between
parents) and is privy to the whole
cycle, from differing opinions,
irritation, upset, impasse and
then watch the persistence and
tenacity used to get to resolution
and reconnection, they learn
they no longer need to be afraid
of conflict, because they realize
that conflicts have a beginning
and middle and an end where the
issue gets resolved.
There is also no point in trying
to teach 100% emotional control
to our kids because humans are
emotional creatures first. It’s how
our brains evolved.
All our emotions are here to
teach and meant to be explored,
each emotion, even anger, jeal-
ousy and rage, deserve a place at
the table. Those feelings are not
to be picked over, denied, suffo-
cated or pretended away, decid-
ing that some are more virtuous
When this occurs, kids learn
shame. They begin to see part of
themselves as ugly. The emotions
they feel become so confusing
and coupled with a parent’s own
lack of acceptance for certain feel-
ings, they disassociate from that
part of them. Suddenly you have
kids that become fragmented and
unwholly and that is where neu-
roses, pathologies, depression,
etc., start to take hold.
So how do you find beauty in
anger and conflict? How do you
build understanding and accept-
ance for these emotions?
Perhaps we start by trusting our
kids to learn and resolve conflict
by experiencing it fully. By get-
ting it wrong a few times and then
being there to walk them through
it, hand in hand, from problem to
Here’s a recent discussion I had
with my 6-year-old after he over-
Often parents get tense wanting to hide conflicts or
fights from their child and the resolution is done out
of your child’s sight. Even giving the
silent treatment or other forms of passive
aggressive, fighting is never truly hidden from kids.
Kids are way too smart for that.
heard our (husband and I) snarly
and agitated voices.
Son: “Why are you both upset
Son: “Right now I’m struggling
to find a way to be patient with
Daddy’s idea and I feel frustrated
Son: “Oh, what happened”
Me: “Your Dad and I are try-
ing to resolve a difference in an
opinion, but we are committed to
working through it and I know we
will find a way, because we will
never give up until we find it”
Son: “Okay” (runs off and plays
A short while after, my husband
and I find our happy place.
Mom and Dad to Son: “We
were both struggling to stay calm
in that moment but we talked
about it, realized that talking over
each other was not helping and
listened attentively to what the
other was feeling.
It helped that we took a mo-
ment to breathe deeply so I could
relax and calm down. Once we
did that, it became easier for us
to calm down and support each
other”. “Just like when you get
upset with your sister, it’s impor-
tant you talk it out and if no one is
around, find a way to get it out of
your head and into your body by
breathing. Then you think clearly
and can better understand where
the other person is coming from.
Sorry if we raised our voices or
worried you but I want you to
know that we will always try our
best to work things out and try to
respect each other ok, does that
Son: “Yes”, big hugs all around
and group kiss.
Trying to shield kids from 100%
of the conflict in their lives does
them a dis-service.
Teaching kids how to fight,
learning how to resolve real world
problems, giving them language
to express themselves as well as
showing them how to deal with
their own emotions and the emo-
tions of others, is essential at a
Fighting in front of the kids,
can be a true gift, creating greater
intimacy and depth in a relation-
ship and can often be a blessing
We would love to hear your
thoughts on conflict and how you
handle it in the home with kids
around. Please write a comment
and share it!
RHEA LALLA is a certified trainer,
parenting coach, speaker, author and
parent. If you'd like to connect with her,
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