by Mary Fischer
Sigh. With how hectic and crazy our lives are as parents, sometimes as hard as we try to avoid it, we wind up arguing in front of our kids. Oh come on, don't try and act like you don't bicker with your spouse from time to time while the kiddos are within an earshot. We all do it, and believe it or not, some studies actually show that fighting in front of the kids can be beneficial to them. It teaches them how to resolve conflict in a constructive and positive way.
Of course, constructive and positive are the key words here -- because there's definitely a right way and a wrong way to duke it out with your other half. I mean, if you're yelling and screaming at the top of your lungs, odds are good that it will scare the heck out of your children and leave all parties involved upset, stressed out, and feeling pretty defeated.
That being said, here are some general guidelines you should probably follow as far as what differentiates good fighting from bad fighting while little ears are listening.
Do listen to what your partner is saying and think about how you are going to respond before anything actually comes out of your mouth.
Don't immediately run upstairs, take all of his clothes out of the closet, and throw them out the window onto the driveway.
Do use phrases like, "I understand," "I respect," "I realize," etc. instead of starting off the conversation with accusatory statements.
Don't grab a throw pillow off the couch and start beating him with it.
Do stick to the argument at hand instead of bringing up things that happened years ago simply for the sake of pushing his buttons. (Not that I do that. Ever.)
Don't storm out of the house, hop in your car, and leave for a few days. (As tempting as it is sometimes.)
Do take a deep breath before every sentence to make sure what you are saying is delivered in a calm and rational tone.
Don't take his iPhone out of his hands and throw it on the ground and stomp on it until it's in a million pieces because he won't stop scrolling through it while you're trying to have a civilized argument.
Do try your hardest to follow the Golden Rule during the fight -- treat others as you want them to treat you. (You don't want to be yelled at and neither does he.)
Don't cry for the sake of trying to gain sympathy. That's probably a worse lesson for your kids to learn than hearing the two of you fight like cats and dogs.
Do you ever fight in front of your kids?