By Dennis and Barbara Rainey
Is it appropriate to resolve conflict in front of younger children? Should we let them see us arguing and making up?
Barbara: Many parents set a policy of not arguing in front of their kids. There are some good points about this policy, but I also think it is good for our children to see us disagree and have an argument, as long as we keep those to a minimum and don’t frighten the kids or make them feel insecure. Kids can learn how to resolve conflict by watching us do it.
Dennis: When our kids were still at home, there were moments where suddenly the kids would realize, “Oh, my goodness—Mom and Dad are having an argument here.” Barbara and I had to realize that our children were fixed on us like radar units and we were their most secure reference points.
When the children would see us in a disagreement, we took a “time out” from the argument to reassure them. We said, “Mom and Dad are having a disagreement. This happens in marriage. Marriage is between two people who sometimes differ, and your mom and I differ. However, we are still committed to each other, we love each other, and this is part of a healthy married relationship.”
If your argument is a yelling match, then that’s not part of healthy love; even in your disagreements you should model Christ’s love for your kids. They need to see you working through a conflict, resolving it, and forgiving each other. They need to be reassured by seeing the reconciliation as well as the argument.