He was looking down at the ipad when he said it. A nonchalant “Just don’t talk about it.” I don’t think he even looked up.
We were on a long drive—Ryan and I in the front of the minivan with our three kids strapped in behind us in the middle row. Trenton had a front row seat to our argument.
And you know what? He was right. His comment stunned my busy mouth into quiet, and it wasn’t ten minutes before Ryan and I had moved on.
Let’s talk about fighting.
This recent Wall Street Journal article challenges the notion of not fighting in front of your kids, suggesting that seeing reasonable disagreement can help children better navigate future conflict within relationships. I didn’t see a lot of constructive fighting in my home growing up, which is probably why for the first couple years of our marriage, my MO was sassing off and then running away to wallow alone in our bedroom. :) (I think I’ve improved since then.)
I don’t mind if our children see some of our conflict, as long as we are maintaining respect for each other. We believe that tension—being stretched to tautness—is a normal and even healthy part of life. Tension forces us to look harder at ourselves. Even when we don’t welcome it (and honestly, I never do), it forces us to grow.
I want to talk A LOT with my children about conflict, so that they can learn to recognize and reign in their feelings. So that they can learn self-control—something I am still (and probably always will be) learning myself.
But all of these ideals don’t mean a lot if we can’t figure out how to model debate in a marriage. (Ryan would hold hands fighting if I’d let him. Unfortunately, I have NOT progressed that much. :)
So how do you handle it? Do you fight in front of the kids? Do you cut it off and then pick it up again after bedtime? Do you have any rules or safeties? Have you started to notice how perceptive your kids are? Sorry for the 20 questions, but I can’t wait to hear what you guys are trying! I’ll respond in the comments with more of our story, as well.
Thanks for taking the time to participate! I’ve gotten some of my best ideas from you!