Building Relationships: Arguing with Kids are Present

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· Just about every couple argues Disagreement isn’t a matter of “if” but of “when”. It’s nearly universal—no matter your age, length of your relationship, where you live, income, ethnicity—almost every couple will argue from time to time. It’s normal and healthy, too; studies show that the main predictor of divorce isn’t having arguments, it’s avoiding them.

· Should the kids be out of bounds? Most of the time, no. This may be surprising, but children learn some of their most important life lessons from parents, and shielding them from arguments stifles their sense of constructive conflict resolution. When they see you resolve an issue positively, they can learn from that and use it in their future relationships. Of course, if you’re dismissive or tend to yell or say negative and degrading things during an argument, that gives kids the wrong message about conflict resolution. Your argumentative style should entail actively listening to your partner; using “I” statements when talking about your feelings; and doing your best to solve the problem instead of simply “winning” the argument.

· Topics that are OK for kids It’s appropriate to talk about money, because all couples deal with it and your kids will too when the time comes; time management, which is a big issue on account of the different personalities and needs within families; and household work, where including everyone in determining workloads can help children learn how to negotiate

· Some topics to discuss in the childrens’ absence would include talking about an ex-spouse or the parent of a child—especially if it’s something negative; intimacy issues you and your partner may be having aren’t

appropriate and may confuse children; and disagreements about discipline matters concerning your kids—they need to see you both on the same page with this, so resolve conflicts about it outside their presence.

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