How much should parents argue
Parents quarrel: When parents quarrel in front of the children
The occasional quarrel between couples is usually inevitable. The decisive factor is how parents deal with arguments in front of their children: girls and boys can definitely learn something for life from constructively resolved conflicts.
Sometimes it's about the money, sometimes about who has more free time or who does most of the housework: there are arguments in every family. But how do you resolve conflicts when children live in the house? Or do small children not even notice when their parents quarrel?
Not at all: Children are very sensitive when it comes to facial expressions, gestures and the pitch of the voice. "To believe that children don't notice when their parents are arguing is definitely a mistake," explains psychotherapist Karin Kutz.
Better not argue in front of the children
Parents should therefore generally try not to argue in front of young children up to elementary school age: "Children as young as this cannot even absorb the verbal content. They only see angry faces, maybe it even gets loud, and that is extremely threatening for small children "says Kutz.
But parents don't have to swallow their anger either: they should simply arrange to meet with the partner to continue the conversation at another time - if the child is not there.
Experts agree: if there is a lot of argument in front of the child, the child suffers emotional damage. This can manifest itself in problematic social behavior (insecurity, aggression or withdrawal) as well as behavioral disorders (nail biting, hair pulling). In these cases, parents should definitely question their relationship and behavior. Professional help may be urgently needed.
There are constructive and destructive arguments
Roughly speaking, arguments can be divided into two categories: constructive and destructive. In a constructive dispute, different parties discuss a problem and look for a solution together. In the case of a destructive argument, however, one of them tries to crush the other or to suppress him: "If it is in the direction of swear words or insults, then it is an argument that only loses out," explains family mediator Detlef Jahn.
A culture of debate has to be learned
If children observe constructive arguments, they can learn how to deal with situations that do not suit them - for example being late. If a friend is far too late, the child can tell him about his anger over it. Basically, a culture of debate is something you are not born with. It is therefore important that children practice this in a safe environment such as family.
Children should also be aware that there can be different opinions: "Children learn most from role models. It is good if they can see how you stand up for your own opinion," says parent adviser Felicitas Richter.
Children should experience that it is important to defend your own point of view even against resistance, that you have to express violent feelings once in a while and that it is possible to find solutions together that ultimately everyone can live with. The prerequisite for such a "constructive dispute" is that the two sides do not become insulting or condescending and also observe a few rules of the game. Then a parental argument can actually become an important experience for children.
Another aspect is the role of the child in the parental dispute. The child must not feel that they are to blame for the argument, nor should they be drawn into the argument. "Parents should explain to their child in a quarrel," Watch out, it's not about you right now, we're arguing about the mess in the house, "says Richter as an example.
Parents' dispute: never pull the child to one side
It becomes dangerous when a parent tries to get the child on his side: "Because then the child gets into a loyalty conflict," says Richter. In addition, no son or daughter is allowed to use a son or daughter as a means of exerting pressure on their partner à la "You see, because you are never at home, the child is now sitting down". That harms the child's psychological development.
Children should never be abused by their parents as lawyers or as supporters in a dispute, is Jahn's opinion: "I said abuse especially because it is an achievement that children cannot do."
If the parents notice that they cannot resolve their dispute on their own, couple counselors or mediators can help. Because in the long run, according to Kutz, children suffer more from constant arguments between their parents than from a separation.
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