I wish the world was such that the power was in the hands of little children. Honest and just! They may not listen when told to do their homework or clean their rooms or finish their food, but when elders are having raised voices or door-slamming fight, children are all ears.
“Kids pay close attention to their parents’ emotions for information about how safe they are in the family.”
- E. Mark Cummings, Psychologist, Notre Dame University
They are silent spectators to what we adults indulge in. As much as we comfort ourselves telling that they are kids and they don’t understand anything, the reality is that they are the ones who understand every single thing. Little eyes are watching, and tiny ears are listening.
In a family dispute, the most affected people are the tiny little souls who have no right to even express their views. And we adults shamelessly choose to bring out our ugly selves right in front of them. Hurling curses at each other, abusing and accusing, shouting, stamping foot, pointing fingers and even throwing anything that is within our reach. And then we don’t even bother to answer those zillions of questions in those curious eyes that try unsuccessfully to hide them behind a tear or two.
For them, it is nothing less than a world war or a tsunami or an earthquake. Their entire world is shaken up watching people they love fight with each other. The resultant change in family structure, moving out of parental home or financial drainage, all this is way too damaging for the child who feels emotionally insecure and unprotected. Researchers say, children (especially kindergartners) who witness regular fights and harsh arguments are likely to develop into emotionally insecure adults with anxiety disorders and behavioural issues.
-- Be it parents or grandparents, we must ensure that such ugly disputes do not happen in front of your child. Being parents, we are responsible for the lives of our children and their overall well-being. We cannot and must not shy away from it.
-- Children, not matter what age they are, must never have to witness ugly family feuds. It affects their morale, their overall growth and personality development. It is emotionally damaging and can have long-lasting effect on kids. It scars their childhood and leaves a wrong impression in their subconscious mind. With destructive adults in the family, the collateral damage to kids can last a lifetime.
-- Arguments and disagreements are a natural part of all relationships. Every individual is different. Be it spouses or siblings or parents. Problems will occur between any two individuals. Husbands and wives have altercations. Daughter-in-laws have problems with in-laws. But parents need to keep in mind that their children are watching and listening.
-- Every adult (especially parents) must keep their egos at bay if we want to build a healthy grooming environment for our children. It is not right to keep the children completely unaware of conflicts. They must know what conflicts are and how to deal with them constructively rather than destructively.
-- The trick lies in controlling emotions, avoiding dirty and harsh arguments and apologizing as soon as you realize your mistake. This empowers them with enough wisdom to tackle conflicts in their future life.
-- After every fight, reassure your children by telling them that fights happen, but you do love each other and it's not the children's fault. Apologize. Make up. But don't fake it. Children can judge easily if you are faking.
Fight fair, and resolve conflicts in a way that doesn't threaten the stability of the family. Walk away if you feel the argument cannot be stopped otherwise. Remember this - if you fight in front of your kids, do make up right in front of them. It strengthens their belief in relationships.