Why My Husband And I Believe In Fighting In Front Of Our Kids
By Natalie Romero
PHOTO © anzeletti/Getty Images
Jan 31, 2018
When I was growing up, I had a friend whose parents never fought. Ever. They didn’t bicker or argue or even sigh in annoyance. I remember feeling envious. I remember wondering if there was something wrong with my family because my parents had fights. Then one day, in middle school, this couple that never argued announced they were getting divorced.
[Our kids] see arguments, tears and sometimes raised voices. But they also see us work through our issues.
I am now a married woman and I understand that arguments are a normal part of every relationship. I sure as heck fight with my husband, and sometimes those fights happen in front of our kids.
I like to refer to my husband and I as "passionate". Really, what that means is we are both stubborn, strong-willed and opinionated. Add in a little anxiety on both our parts and a very busy lifestyle, and what you get is the occasional disagreement. (OK, maybe many disagreements and a few blow-up, yelling fights.)
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Sometimes our fights are small and resolved quickly with few words. Other times they are big and involve raised voices, slammed doors and require a cooling-off period before we are even capable of resolving a thing. Sometimes, there isn’t even a resolution to be had.
I’ve read the research that shows the damage that can be done by fighting in front of your kids. Yet I still fight in front of my kids.
What I love the most about [my husband and me] is that we are real. We are unapologetically, unabashedly, imperfectly real.
I have spent a lot of time and effort trying to send my kids the message that they should be open about their feelings. Even the bad ones. I give them permission to be mad, even at me. I tell them it’s OK to tell me when I have crossed a line and am not respecting their boundaries. How can I preach that if I’m not willing to do the same thing? How can they know it’s OK to feel those things if they don’t ever see someone feeling them?
I think it’s important for my kids to see me fight with my husband. One day they may get married and I want them to know that disagreements are perfectly normal. And while arguing the "right" way is a nice thought, we are human beings and that means we are messy and flawed and not always “right.”
I want my kids to be comfortable with all their emotions. They should be comfortable apologizing when they have stepped out of line (and they will step out of line at some point in their lives). I want them to feel that even when they are at their worst, they are loved.
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So, we fight in front of our kids. They see arguments, tears and sometimes raised voices.
But they also see us work through our issues.
I want my kids to be comfortable with all their emotions.
They hear us apologize to each other. They hear us admit when we are wrong. They hear us tell each other when the other has crossed the line and hurt our feelings. They witness us communicate our boundaries. Most importantly they see us hug and make each other feel loved. Because we love each other through the good and the bad.
My husband and I are very different people. We were raised in very different homes. We have had different life experiences. Yet what I love the most about us is that we are real. We are unapologetically, unabashedly, imperfectly real.
My biggest hope is that I can teach my kids to be comfortable in their realness — messy feelings, fights and all.
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