Do you argue in front of the kids?


It started with a raised eyebrow over the state of the house (and the amount of dog hair in it.) It ended with a slammed door which left me standing in the street – my husband and daughter on one side, and my son and me on the other.

‘Is Daddy being unacceptable?’ My son asked.

‘The dogs are being unacceptable, darling. Daddy’s just… more accepting than me.’

The argument continued in the car and was getting pretty tense until I accused my husband of being a ‘big, dog-pandering, hair-ball, wuss-bag,’ because he let the dogs on the sofa. I couldn’t really keep a straight face after that and we all ended up laughing.

But should we have saved the disagreement for when the kids were out of earshot? Maybe. A study from Cardiff University says arguing in front of your children can be really damaging. We’re talking depression, anxiety, aggression and hostility according to Dr. Gordon Harold, a researcher at Cardiff University, which is a large price to pay for fluff on the sofa.

Still, I’m telling myself the odd healthy ‘debate’ can be good for children, as long as we play by the Cardiff experts rules:

  • ‘Big dog-pandering, hair-ball wuss-bags,’ aside, it’s probably best to avoid serious name-calling. No need to play mean by getting nasty or critical.
  • Empty threats are probably a boo-boo too – my kids are quivering believers in everything I say one minute, yet laugh in the face of my assertions the next. Neither makes me feel like a great parent.
  • Lines should probably be drawn at rowing about the kids in front of the kids – which practically invites ‘divide and conquer’ syndrome.
  • I definitely avoid ranting about other people within earshot of the kids. Damn, tell-tails. ‘Mummy says you’re always fishing for compliments and suck the joy out of everything,’ is hard to come back from in any friendship.
  • Another thing; if I start an argument in front of the kids, I try my best to finish in front of them too. Making a show of calming down and hugging-it-out ought to make up for any bad feelings, right? Worst case scenario ‘let’s sort this out later when I’m less wound up,’ is better than an arctic silence.
  • Talking of which – I can’t bear the silent treatment. So passive aggressive! Its awkward for everyone – innocent bystanders included – and I’d be kidding myself if I claimed the kids were oblivious. Give me shouting over just-sucked-a-lemon-face brooding any day.
  • Holding a grudge is another no-no. Arguing about daddy’s inability to shut drawers or cupboards is is ok. Festering about it for the next three months is not. The kids need to know that despite the grumbling, fundamentally we’re very happy.

Baring that in mind, who knows, maybe the odd bit of ‘conflict resolution’ at home might be helpful for kids? It must be reassuring for them to see the whole thing go full circle. Yes people get angry, yell and say things they don’t mean. But they also apologise, take responsibility and admit when they are wrong.

I know I’m relieved when friends tell me they have the occasional disagreement at home; proof that it’s a normal part of life and needn’t be disastrous if we all play fair. Here’s hoping the kids feel it’s all part of being a normal family too.

In short, I’m all about setting an example that it’s ok to be human. Yes, parents make mistakes and get things wrong. But in all but the most serious of cases, that’s ok as long as we take responsibility and say sorry.

What about your family? Do you argue in front of the kids?


And then the fun began...

Stopping at two

10 thoughts

  1. I think most parents are aware of how damaging it can be to argue in front of the kids, but it’s just so hard to keep it all in in the heat of the moment isn’t it. My hubby and I used to be really good at not, but our standards have massively slipped lately. I blame exhaustion… but we really should try harder x
    Mummy Tries recently posted…A Truly Inspiring WeekMy Profile

  2. We try not to – we just stare at each other (the evils) and I do the whole silent treatment! Nowadays they look terrified if we do and so we stop straight away!!!! I don’t want them to see the negativity or think that it is okay to shout at each other – it is the wrong message. Great post. Thanks for linking up – much appreciated. Jess xx

    mummyofboygirltwins recently posted…Sunday Stars linkyMy Profile

  3. We do unfortunately argue in front of my little boy. He always becomes a little unsettled or whingy when we do so we make an effort to keep our voices the same as normal to avoid him noticing. This resolves the situation pretty quickly as neither of us can take the argument seriously lol #sundaystars
    Kirsty recently posted…The Best Bits : On SundayMy Profile

  4. It can just be so so so hard not to can’t it?!?! I think we hold off on the massive rows until the kids are fast asleep, but to be honest there are times when he stuffs the bin so full of rubbish that when the bag splits I just can’t help myself but have a rather public toddler strop. Luckily he always makes me laugh pretty quickly so my hope is that the girls see how well the mood can be diffused.
    Sugar&Rhubarb recently posted…Review & Giveaway with Lala & BeaMy Profile

  5. Yep — we DO argue in front of the twins occasionally. Albeit a rare occurrence but I want them to see that conflict *does*happen every once in a while and it’s how you resolve it that’s important. As long as they can see that their daddy and I love each other and make friends again after an argument, I think it shows a well rounded relationship. People DO argue — it’s human nature not to get on 100% of the time and I think a healthy argument is better than a nasty atmosphere.

    I take these ‘studies’ with a pinch of salt to be honest. There was a report quite recently that suggested we shouldn’t kiss our children on the lips because it’s confusing and could be damaging in the long term. Words fail me!! #SundayStars
    Caro | The Twinkles Mama recently posted…A Mini Treasure | The Wonder Garden by Kristjana S Williams & Jenny BroomMy Profile

  6. Urgh I hate arguing in front of the children but sometimes something’s just can’t wait until their in bed! I do try and keep my cool but Mr J can be so infuriating and he knows how to push all the wrong buttons. In 2017 I’m going to try harder 🙂
    Amy recently posted…Tips To Become A Better ParentMy Profile

  7. I think arguing in front of your kids should be alright, but only if the ‘quarrel’ is part of daily life and does not involve below the line accusations and unjustified anger and vandalism. After all kids should learn that difference of opinion is part of human nature.

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