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Please, Don't Fight in Front of the Kids

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Mom•Logic friend Counseling Mom reminds us why it's really so important to let kids be kids.

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"As I left my office tonight I stepped into the following situation. I walked out of my building and there on the steps, was a woman and her two young girls, probably ages 8 and 10. Everyone seemed stunned, and I could feel that something intense had just transpired. There was a man walking away toward his car, and judging by the looks on the girls' faces, he was walking away from them. Presumably he was either the girls' father or the mother's boyfriend. Everybody appeared so startled and the feeling was so palpable that I stopped dead in my tracks trying to comprehend what might be happening. I also wondered if this mom was about to need any help. After a moment she looked directly at me and quickly walked off toward the car. The man by now, had gotten into the car and started it. The girls just stood there like statues the whole time, with their books pulled up against their chests.

Assuming that something was about to get resolved, I walked slowly to my car, all the while seeing the mom engage in an argument with the man in the car. Now, with the awareness that nothing for this family was about to get resolved, I took my time about getting ready to pull out of my parking spot. I wanted to be available to help if mom and her kids ended up abandoned at my building on this cold night. I had a toasty warm waiting room, and a phone if they needed it. They continued to argue. He turned his headlights on. This went on for several minutes, all the while I kept glancing at the girls through my rear view mirror. There they stood in the dark night, still in that same position. The arguing between the adults went on. I couldn't linger much longer. Knowing that she would be able to get back into my building if she needed to, I started to slowly back out and pull away, always glancing back at those girls.

Those girls are still in my head right now. It was 27F degrees. It was almost 8 p.m. at night. Those girls just stood there in the cold, stunned, like they were afraid to move, 8 and 10 years old. What do you think those girls were thinking? How do you think they were feeling? My heart nearly broke for them. Instead of being at home safe, warm, and secure, preparing for their day tomorrow, they were outside somewhat alone, cold, and probably worrying about how they were going to get home, or worse, what would happen next.

Couples, I need to tell you: NO CHILD SHOULD EVER HAVE TO EXPERIENCE THIS . Children need to, and have a right to, feel safe with their parents. What these girls were probably worrying about that night are adult worries. It is our job to deal with these issues, not theirs. Look, I know that kids experience worse things than this. But that does not mean that a situation like this is appropriate. Parents, we need to grow up and parent our children. As a parent you no longer have the right to give in to your own temper tantrums and storm off into your rooms, or cars as it might be, and never, ever, ever, should any child be faced with feeling abandoned, I don't care how angry you are with your spouse. Grow up! Children first, folks.

We also really need to look at how we treat our spouses or mates. When you fight do you reign down a heap of foul language or criticisms meant to hurt your partner? Why? Why, would you do that? Some of us get married and then treat our mates in ways that we would never even consider treating our friends. We fight dirty, erode our marriages, and then divorce. Guys, all of this rolls down hill to our children. The next time you are tempted to kid yourselves into thinking that your children are unaffected by moments like this, please think of those two young girls standing on the steps of my office building. Please give our kids a break."


next: Father and Son Poopapalooza
8 comments so far | Post a comment now
Linda December 27, 2007, 12:55 PM

This story hit home because my daughter has just gone through an ugly divorce, and is still dealing with the vindictive father of her 3 year old son. He does everything in his power to try to make her the “bad guy” in the baby’s eyes, i.e., he had the baby call my daughter during a visit and ask to sleep over the father’s girlfriend’s house (where the father lives) knowing the baby had to go to day care the next day, knowing that this was not agreed upon in the divorce settlement, and knowing that he is a dead beat father in every sense of the phrase since he is 10 weeks behind in child support, and is thousands of dollars in arrears!!!!!!!! How can we convince this man that he is toying with his 3 year old son’s emotions, and how serious an issue this can become?

Please respond.

Stephanie December 27, 2007, 10:28 PM

WOW. Reading this made my heart ache. I completely agree with you on this matter. I couldn’t have imagine what those kids were going through. I wish every couple with kids could read this story…

Jen December 31, 2007, 10:56 AM

I cant agree strongly enough with this. I have seen parents argue with spouses or other family members with the kids right there. It is unbelievable that some of these otherwise intelligent people can be so stupid at times. They feel that it is important for their children to know what is happening in their lives. Well, people are being killed on the streets, should you bring these children into the war zones so they can “know what is going on”? This generation wants to be “friends” with their children, this does not work. You can be your child’s friend when you are both adults, but until then, you are their parent. It’s time these parents remember that.
As this article states, “grow up Parents”

Counselingmom January 1, 2008, 10:00 PM

Linda,

I responded to your comment but it did not post. Please check my website for my response. www.counselingmom.com

cmom

Cassandra January 2, 2008, 6:41 PM

I wish that I could broadcast this blog on the front of every television!
Not very many years ago I was one of those little girls.

Watching my parents demean each other in front of me was so traumatic, that to this day I have a fear of loud and angry voices. It also lead to a lot of irresponsible behavior on my part.

Whenever I see this happening, It takes everything inside me to not run and hug the child.

Believe me, in your desire to hurt your spouse/lover, you are truly hurting your child more than you can imagine.


Thank you!


Carrie January 7, 2008, 11:46 AM

I was raised this way. Me and my brother went through an ugly divorce and custody battle that lasted years. My husband was also raised this way and we agreed to never argue in front of our children. Sadly it did occur with our six month old son once. When we saw his reaction we knew immediately what we had done. Never again.

kb February 15, 2009, 12:17 AM

So true.
Wish that it would not be this way for anyone. My wife feels it is okay and it is normal to fight and yell and scream in front of our little one. I hate it, and I don’t agree, but that makes my wife more mad. If I could, I would get custody of my little one and fire this feminist so called wife/mother. What an odd way to look at life feminists have… such sad men they are raising and creating.

Anon March 25, 2009, 2:09 AM

I must say, I don’t agree with this. I don’t think your kids should always be exposed to parents having a spat to be sure; however, I also think it’s very important for children to see their parents working their problems out and getting on with life. I think that your particular approach perpetuates the fallacy that people who are in love shouldn’t fight, all it does is set your children up for their own brand of trauma later in life when someone they love argues with them. To learn how to deal with life/love/relationship problems and imperfections, they have to see their greatest role models deal with them.

I remember how awful the first 4-5 arguments I had with my loved one were. I always had completely unjustified fears such as our relationship was falling apart, we were breaking up, etc. I feel that maybe if I had seen my parents work their problems out more instead of just casting angry glances at each other across the breakfast table for a week at a time, I may have been better prepared.


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