“Do not fight in front of your children” is one piece of advice every young parent gets. There are so many parenting workshops, books, and articles, preaching the same thing. Even though so many people are aware of this basic parenting fact, how many can actually follow? I am sure, many of you reading this blog right now have faced a situation wherein you have felt absolutely helpless, while your parents were throwing daggers at each other in front of you. I am sure many of you have actually opened this article because of this very reason, and some of you are young parents now, and you don’t want your children to face the same. Don’t worry, you are not the only one. Most of us have faced this at least once, and so many of us still experience this trauma every day of our lives. But what are its long-term effects? Are some of the negative traits in your personality because of this reason? What do the doctors and scientists say? Read on to know more!
Negative effects of parents fighting in front of their children
Disagreements are bound to happen between two people staying in the same house. They are harmless when the matter is solved amicably, in a matured fashion. However, sometimes things may get out of hand and these disagreements can turn into nasty fights without warning, much to the displeasure and discomfort of other people in the house. If these other people in the house are children, the consequences may be worse. And there’s no particular age group that is affected. Such fights between parents can affect a 6-month-old infant, as well as a 19-year-old adult. Here is a list of some of the negative effects that these fights can have on children.
- Insecurity: For all of us, our home is supposed to be a safe place. The hope of coming back to a safe and peaceful home is the driving force that keeps us going throughout the day. A home gives us a sense of stability and security. But what about a child whose parents are always fighting? There will always be a sense of tension in the house, and the child will lose all hope in a family. He/she will never know the house to be a safe and peaceful place anymore.
- Aggression: Children learn from their parents. Growing up, they adopt their parents’ ways of dealing with stuff. A child whose parents share a toxic relationship will think that the only way of dealing with a disagreement is to fight. This will result in a tendency to get aggressive and can become a negative personality trait.
- Lack of concentration: Frequent fights at home slow down a child’s learning process. According to an observation by play therapist Mishti Verma, during a play therapy session with a 6-year-old kid, she and her team found out that the real reason why the kid was not being able to concentrate in school, was not any learning disability, but it was due to the frequent fights that the kid’s parents had at home.
- Parent-child relationship: Frequent fights are stressful on the parents as well. A distressed parent can never give proper attention and care to his/her child. This can cause feelings of dislike to develop in the child’s heart towards the parent. Besides, when a child will see his parents fighting, he will have his own judgment of who is right and who is not. This can, very often, cause the child to become emotionally distant from the parent whom he considers guilty for the conflict.
- Eating disorders: Several studies have linked eating disorders, such as anorexia and bulimia, to fights among parents. A child might also have physical effects from the fighting, such as sleep problems, stomachaches, or headaches.
- Feelings of guilt: Sometimes, children may think that they are the cause of their parent’s conflict and this can cause them to lose their self-confidence and feel guilty for everything that’s happening. This can be a terrible feeling, and it can lead to a tendency of self-blaming in the long run.
- Psychological effects: Depression, anxiety, and loneliness are common psychological effects of this issue. The child may not find it safe to discuss anything with his/her parents anymore, and many a time, it can also lead to a tendency of lying.
- Future: According to researchers, children who grow up in toxic families, are found to have more issues in their future relationships, and are more likely to have similar conflicts with their partners.
So, what is the solution now?
A solution to this problem should be looked at from two different perspectives. One from the perspective of the child, and two from the perspective of the parents.
If you are in the position of the child now, and your parents are always fighting,
Remember, that whatever is going on between your parents, it’s their issue. They are two adults who have been married for some time, and they might have a lot of issues that are completely unrelated to you. So do not feel guilty about your parent’s fights. If they had to tell you something, they would have come and discussed it with you. If they are not doing it, and fighting amongst themselves, then you clearly don’t have anything to do with it. Try to stay out of the argument. Get into your room, or some other part of the house, put some earphones on, play the music, and keep doing your own work. If staying in the house feels stressful, go out for a walk in the neighborhood. Get some fresh air. And once your parents have calmed down, try to talk to them, and let them know how you feel when the fight. Try talking to a psychologist if talking to parents seems too difficult. It’s your life, and nothing should affect it.
If you are the parent,
I understand that when angry, it becomes very difficult to think logically. But always remember, your children are there in the house, and how much your fights are going to affect them. Remember how much you were affected as a child when your parents fought. Would you want your children to go through the same trauma? There’s always a way to resolve a conflict amicably. Try talking to your partner about the issue at hand in a softer tone. Also, try to make him understand the negative effects fighting might have on the children. Talk to a marriage counselor if necessary. In case, you and your partner end up in a nasty fight in a fit of rage, there are ways by which you can lessen the effects. You can hold a family meeting, and let them know that it was just a fight, and admit it was wrong of you to fight like that. Reassure them that everything is alright. You have a responsibility as parents to look after the well-being of your kids. Don’t let your personal conflicts get in the way of that.
Parents’ fights can have disastrous effects on the physical and physiological well-being of the child. It’s sad that many of us can actually relate to that. It can also, ruin the parent-child relationship, and lead to long-term effects like anxiety and depression. It can scar a child for life. Thus, it’s important to find a solution to this problem. As a child, the best solution would be to keep aloof from the situation, and indulge in some other work. Once the parents are calmed down, you can go talk to them and let them know about your feelings. As a parent, you need to remember your responsibilities towards your child and try to control your anger. If somehow you lose it, try to lessen the effects it can have on your children, by talking to them later. It’s only in a stress-free environment, that a child can grow happy and healthy.