What Happens when Parents Fight infront of Kids

posted by Anupriya 12 Comments

As a child the most frustrating moments I experienced were, when I saw my mom upset because of a tiff she had with my father. These arguments did not always happen in front of me or my sister. But looking at my mom teary eyed left me worked up and frustrated. One day in my innocence, I walked up to my mom and said to her,

‘Let papa come back home today, I will ask him why he makes you cry?’

My mom suddenly forgot about her hurt from the argument with papa, and replied wide eyed,

‘Oh dear! You must not speak up in elder’s matters. If we have had an argument, we will sort it out ourselves. You must not get involved.’

I nodded to her thoughtfully but thought in my mind

‘If Mom wants me to keep away from anything to do with the argument, why subject me to the effects of their argument. ‘

I was a teenager then. I had the ability to judge the situation, understand it and form my opinion about it. But what happens when parents argue infront of their kids who are much younger?

Through what I have read about the research on the subject of ‘Parents Fighting Infront of Kids’, there are two schools of thought –

Scientific Research

  1. Physiological changes – Increase in blood pressure, Heart Rate and increased secretion of stress hormones has been observed in kids as young as 6 months, when parent fights happen in their presence.
  2. Kids subject to regular exposure to their parents’ fights grow up with characteristics that render them incapable of recovering from stress. They are unable to regulate their emotions or calm themselves.
  3. Such kids run a higher risk of anxiety disorders and depression.
  4. Stress also cripples kids’ immune system. Children in emotionally unstable households catch cold much more frequently than other kids.
  5. Such kids are also known to have lower IQs and lower chances of excelling academically.

Spiritual Schools

  1. Right from the time a child comes into the womb, until 5-7 years of age the aura of a child is attached to mother’s aura. Every emotion that a mother feels has a direct impact on the child to an extent that the child develops the same characteristics.
  2. The child’s aura picks up thought forms from her parents’ aura which affects her personality. Aggression, anxiety, short-temper, low confidence, limitation to communicate are some most common personality traits that kids prone to fights at home are likely to grow up with.

After having read the above, one can only conclude that it is absolutely wrong to fight in front of kids. As parents we hold this responsibility to provide a nurturing environment to our kids and not subject them to such growth limiting situations. Such behavior is completely non-negotiable, if we want our kids to grow up to be emotionally balanced and matured human beings.

Silver lining to the Dark Cloud

Bestseller John Media writes in his book, ‘Brain Rules for Babies’ that if we fight in front of our kids, then we must make sure that we reconcile also in front of them. This will help the kids create a conclusive mind-map that reads that, ’OK, my parents had a difference of opinion and they argued. But they still respect each other and love each other enough to make it up between them.’

According to the author, this single thought form is almost a game changer and can reverse the negative effects of the argument that the kids witnessed.

Yet, I have my own set of do’s and don’ts when it comes to parent fights and kids –

  • Try and keep your voice low when kids are around
  • Mind your language. Like literally, kids pick up vocabulary very fast.
  • If kids come up and check with you later, explain to them that there was a point of disagreement between you two and thus the argument. Don’t forget to add, ‘Oh it’s just this one thing dear. Mom and dad are still best friends.’
  • Make a genuine closing conversation in front of the kids. Let them understand that there can be difference of opinion, yet that does not change much.

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Sapna Krishnan January 23, 2018 at 10:32 pm

We have argued in front of our kid but we have made it a point to not raise our voice and maintain sanity. After the arguement, we have also continued to behave normal and not stopped talking or stormed off into different rooms. I think it is healthy to argue in front of the child as long as you don’t go overboard. They truly need to understand that everything is not always hunky dory and there will be different situations and emotions one needs to go through. I wouldn’t want them to be shocked when they see a fight after they grow up – it is not alien.

Anchal January 24, 2018 at 3:12 pm

I will make sure that my husband and I take care of this. Thanks for sharing

Nayantara Hegde January 24, 2018 at 5:51 pm

Thats a very valid point about making sure the kids know that it is all a part and parcel of life and that the argument has reached a conclusion and all is well now. No matter how much we practice positive parenting, real life happens and disagreements also happen. Kids should also learn coping mechanisms from it.

Kamana@SocialandStyle January 24, 2018 at 6:31 pm

Thank you for such a meaningful post. It’s so important to understand how words impact children.

Roopika January 25, 2018 at 12:32 am

I agree this must be avoided to the extent possible, but I like the points you highlighted that reconciliation should be in the child’s knowledge too! We got to taste this experience first time when our kids were around 20 months old and after an argument in the car, we both were quiet when suddenly my daughter said “Papa angry, Mumma angry, Amyra sad, Kinoo sad”! “
We couldn’t believe our ears and learnt a lesson that day!!

Neha Tambe January 25, 2018 at 11:48 am

That’s a nice post.I knew about the immediate stress, but didn’t know about the long term effects parents fight can cause.

Deepa January 25, 2018 at 3:53 pm

This is a great post about effects of fighting in front of kids. You highlighted some key points and I feel you can’t and you should not keep kids away from everything happening around. They need to see and learn that life cannot be rosy all the time.

Emily | The Multitasking Mom January 30, 2018 at 11:15 pm

We try not to argue in front of our kids if at all possible. If/when we do, we always try to make up in front of them or if we make up when they are not around, at least have a conversation about it to let them know it’s resolved. I want my kids to know that disagreements sometimes happen but that doesn’t mean we don’t love each other and we are not a stable family.

Karla January 31, 2018 at 3:28 am

Yes! We are very mindful to never argue in front of our little one. When I was little, my parents argued a lot, so I know the toll it takes.

Shell January 31, 2018 at 5:39 pm

I am not married so fighting in front of my kids is never an issue…. However, I would never bad mouth my ex husband in front of my children or say anything putting him down to them. I would think if we were married it would be healthy for the children to see even if we have disagreements that we can discuss like adults and come to a conclusion with out fighting… Not everyone gets along all of the time but it’s good for kids to see a healthy resolution…

Jasmine January 31, 2018 at 6:06 pm

Excellent tips we never argue In front of or son

Michelle February 1, 2018 at 1:01 am

Great parenting tips! I have never agreed with fighting, yelling, or showing physical or vocal aggression. It impacts all of us and kids are more prone to imitation, stress, and attitude problems than we are if we let them see and be around fighting. Thank you for keeping other people aware of the problems that come from that.


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