Do you value your children’s future? Of course you do! That is why it is important to give them a fighting chance at approaching life in a healthy and balanced way. You can begin by modeling to them what a healthy and balanced marriage looks like.
1. Tension and fighting between parents takes a heavy toll on children.
Some were raised in a home where there was arguing between their parents, so you know the truth in that statement. Others who may have come from a calmer home, but now you are in a marriage where there is a great deal of bickering. Your children are paying a very high emotional price from the two of you fighting and taking out your tensions in front of them.
2. Children carry a false guilt that the fighting is their fault.
It is hard for our adult minds to put our arms around that thought. Why would our kids think they are the cause for the tension? In their little hearts some how they believe if they were better kids, better behaved and did things right, that the two of you would get along better. This produces a guilt that can be suffocating.
3. Children feel a responsibility to fix the marriage.
They love the two of you and want you to be happy, so they will go to almost any length to try to fix and save your marriage. Bob Muellor tells a story of a little boy that found his mother crying on Mother’s Day because her husband wanted to show her how angry he was, so he did not get her anything. The little boy got on his bike and rode down to the store with his money and got candy and a card and signed it from him and his dad. Do we really want to put children in that kind of place? Have them carry that kind of emotional weight? I don’t think so.
4. Children are overwhelmed by continual fear and insecurity.
Every door that is slammed and every shout that is made, it sends a shock wave where they begin to wonder is mom and dad going to stay together? Am I going to have a home? Are they going to divorce? Is this the beginning of the end? You are now raising a child that is fear driven or completely overcome with anxiety about the next day. This tends to affect the other areas of their life because they are overwhelmed by it.
WHAT TO DO EVEN IF YOU HAVE A MARRIAGE WITHOUT PROBLEMS
1. Adults should keep their arguments behind (quiet) closed doors.
You have to show maturity, self-control and wisdom if a fight is starting or if an argument is underway, to ask your spouse to step into another room to talk things over. Get out of the presence of the kids; they don’t need to hear that fight. They can’t do anything to stop it or control it, so it only injures them.
2. Adults should never ask the children to choose sides.
If you really want to tear their hearts right down the middle, just make them choose whom they love more, mom or dad. When you are upset and turn to your child and say well isn’t that the case? Don’t you agree? Haven’t you said that to me before? You really are just putting them in a no win situation because they are the product of the two of you. They belong to each of you and they don’t want to choose sides.
3. Adults should assure the children they (permanently) love each other.
Particularly after an argument which they may have heard a portion of, you need to go to them and say, “I want to assure you that mom and dad love each other, we are not going to divorce, and this marriage is permanent”.
4. Parents should apologize to the children for their fighting.
If the kids heard you saying and acting in a nasty way, you need to get down on your knee or bend down, get on eye level and say, “Daddy needs to ask your forgiveness for talking to mom that way” (or visa-versa). It will do more to heal their hearts, bring assurance, and help them to recover more than you could possibly imagine.
Harley Willard, F. Jr. Caring for Children Means Caring for Each Other. Retrieved from http://www.marriagebuilders.com/graphic/mbi8112_care.html
Total Living Network: For Better, For Worse, For Keeps: June 10, 2008.