At one time, whenever my husband and I disagreed my goal was to conduct those conversations in private. I was satisfied with putting on a front around others, especially our children. My concerns were always focused on their assessment of the situation. If they observed us during those moments, our girls might become nervous or even confused.
Although our disagreements have never been disrespectful, there has been a high-level of emotions. Mix that with my previous skills in shutting down and not speaking to my husband for days and you get two very puzzled little girls. Another fear of mine in our daughters witnessing our heated conversations was they would no longer feel safe. Children don’t understand the complexity of grown up relationships. An argument to my husband and me meant we were getting on one another’s nerves, but to our children it might mean mommy and daddy don’t love each other anymore. I had to be very careful because I did not want that particular result, but I also did not want to pretend that every day in our marriage was perfect.
As I began to mature in my marriage and learned the proper way to disagree, I was convinced it would benefit my children in not only learning, but experiencing it as well. I had never before thought of the gain they could receive from our discussions. Our disagreements would bring a certain sense of reality to their lives they won’t be able to receive from anywhere else. Being a parent isn’t easy; we also have to teach our children things we sometimes don’t even know how to handle ourselves. But they have to be taught, and it is always so much better coming from their parents.
Children are like sponges just watching and absorbing everything around them, especially in their homes. The majority of what they learn coming up is going to travel with them into their homes and into their marriages. I would hate for them to dwell in a fairy tale world that doesn’t exist. Seeing that couples do disagree and still love one another is critical. Our children have to be taught how to handle themselves during conflict. In addition, they must also be taught how to resolve their issues. We must teach them it is never okay to be disrespectful, yelling isn’t necessary to make your point, and walking around not speaking to your spouse for days solves absolutely nothing.
Children need the truth, when it feels good and even when it’s not so great. We are not only their first teacher, but also the most instrumental when it comes to life and especially love lessons.
Do you let your children in on your marital disagreements? Why or why not?