A mom told, “My husband and me both are quick-tempered and our fights regularly escalate into full-fledged shouting matches. But somewhere at the back of our minds we know the drill. The fight is bound to blow over once we have given vent to our anger and things will go on as before. I only realized recently how our constant arguing affects the children when I found my 8-year-old son huddled under the covers bawling after one of our fights. He had overheard me telling my husband that I was fed up and wished that I could get away for a while. I had a hard time explaining to him that when we are angry we often say things we don’t really mean.”
Remember the children
Any couple will tell you that marriage is no bed of roses. It has its ups and downs like any other relationship. Fighting and making up is all part of the game. But parents often forget that they are parents when having a battle royal with their spouses. They are so intent on shouting down their spouses, making their respective points and saying hurtful things that they overlook the fact that the fight does not affect just the two of them but also their children. Children are very observant and sensitive. They are quick to pick up on tensions and undercurrents. However, they are not very good at pinpointing the cause. When they hear raised voices and slammed doors they can’t help but wonder, “Is it me?”
Children’s worlds revolve around their parents. Parents are their security blankets and their safety nets. They are supposed to provide their children with a constant sense of security and a confidence that their parent’s love and the marriage is as unshakeable as the Rock of Gibraltar. Rumbles of discontent between parents leave children feeling insecure and unsure whether it has something to do with them.
Drawing the lines of battle
So before you start screaming about your husband having lost a tidy pile on the stock market or arguing with your wife about how she doesn’t show enough respect to your parents, stop and think that your children are likely to be the spellbound audience to your little family drama. And it will be disturbing rather than entertaining for them. However, this does not mean that parents do not have the right to fight or argue just because they are parents. It is just that they will have to learn to express their anger and communicate their frustration in private and in ways that do not affect their children adversely.
The parent’s manual to a ‘good’ fight
- Put yourself in your children’s shoes. Would you like to be a spectator to your fights?
- Counting to ten is a tried and tested method of dealing with anger. Try not to argue when you’re seeing red. Take time to cool off before discussing your problems.
- Remember that when it comes to fighting between spouses, it doesn’t help to fight fire with fire. Raising your voice, name-calling and door-slamming will only serve to fuel the fight.
- When you give yourself time to cool off and think you will often find that while you may think you’re fighting about long working hours or money, it may actually just be a manifestation of the fact that you’re tired, under stress or feeling neglected. Try to analyze what the real issue is.
- Try not to focus on laying blame and trying to make your spouse grovel and see the error of his or her ways. The idea is to come to a solution not punish your spouse.
- If you have issues to resolve with your spouse try to wait till your children are asleep or go into another room to have your argument.
- If you’ve had a massive argument in front of your children, make it a point to let them know that they are not to blame and that sometimes parents do fight, but it does not mean that they love each other or their children any less.
- If possible, try to explain what you were upset about in simple terms that they can understand. But try not to alarm them or speak in a manner that they feel obliged to take sides or turn hostile to your spouse.
- Explain to your children that losing your temper was a mistake and that you may have said many things you didn’t mean just because you were angry.
- Make every attempt to make up with your spouse so that you can present a united, normal front to your children as soon as possible.