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Opinions pls - How to have give DS 'healthy' perspective on parent's arguments

(14 Posts)
wheresmypaddle Wed 07-Oct-09 14:14:28

I have very unpleasant childhood memories of my Mum and Step-Dad arguing with each other and also my Dad and Step-Mum arguing. There were angry, violent rows in both households which often ended with one parent zooming off in the car (to come back the next day) and the other being terribly upset. As a child this made me frightened and upset and quite embarassed when it happened in front of my friends. Both parents are with new partners now and things are much better.

DP and I don't row very often but like everyone this does happen sometimes. DS is only 2.5 and so any disagreements have so far been vented and sorted well away from him.

I am consious that if I have my way I will totally protect him from this and he will never see or hear Mummy and Daddy disagreeing on anything- but that's just not normal is it??

I am interested in others' views on how this should be tackled. It may seem trivial but I want to give him a healthy outlook on this- to see that it is OK for his parents to disagree- or should all arguements take place after bedtime in whispers?

Note: Not looking for sympathy over my parent's behaviour- am OK about it all....

PoisonToadstool Wed 07-Oct-09 14:19:41

My parents divorced when I was 6 and I have very few memories of anything really - but do remember lots of whispers, shushing and things generally kept very private.

My personal take on things is that it is absolutely fine and normal and healthy for DC to witness disagreements/rows (swearing and shouting aside) - but they absolutely must see resolution and making up too. I just remember being confused as to why they were arguing but then acting like normal and I hate it, I can't pretend an argument hasn't happened. Surely DS learning we say sorry and make up is a good thing? Well that's my view on it.

wheresmypaddle Wed 07-Oct-09 14:25:24

Thanks for that - obvious now you say it that DS should see the making up bit too....

Funny isn't it- I don't want to repeat my childhood so I go overboard and hide away to argue. You don't want to repeat yours so you don't want to pretent an arguement hasn't happened.

PoisonToadstool Wed 07-Oct-09 14:30:30

It is a flaw of mine, I cannot bear keeping things till later, well unless it was something very serious perhaps, actually I am trying to think of what we argue or disagree about - DP forgetting things, mostly, or promising to do something and then not. I don't really know what is for the best to be honest.

Littlefish Wed 07-Oct-09 14:32:37

Dd has never heard DH and I arguing. It may be unusual, but we have never had an argument! He tends to sulk a bit and then we discuss it, but we have honestly never had a proper argument (been together 13 years).

If your ds does see you arguing, then I agree that he should also see you making up. However, if you can do it, I would avoid him seeing you arguing. I remember seeing my parents argue and make up, but I absolutely hated it, and always assumed that it meant they were going to break up.

wheresmypaddle Wed 07-Oct-09 14:43:16

Wow littlefish thats good going!!

Littlefish Wed 07-Oct-09 14:46:49


It can be very hard work! I have had to bite my tongue many times. If I'm honest, once I've had time to think about it, most of the time, the issue was not worth arguing about anyway.

wheresmypaddle Wed 07-Oct-09 14:51:16

I find that sometimes- I count to ten and think I'll leave it for later when DS is out of earshot. Then I forget all about it- come to think of it DP is probebly getting away with all sorts!!

MyNameIsInigoMontoya Wed 07-Oct-09 16:08:27

I think that if DCs know you are arguing but feel they are not "meant" to know (e.g. if you save it till they are upstairs, but they hear) it maybe makes them more worried than if you argue freely in front of them.

I think this was true for me when I was small, if I overheard arguments I always thought it was something terrible, but if I had been there, there might have been more chance for them to give a reassuring word or me to see them get over it and realise it wasn't so bad really.

Acinonyx Wed 07-Oct-09 16:26:17

It depends what you mean by arguing. Dh and I argue occaisionally but we don't actually shout at each other or swear etc - we just get a bit cross and is doesn't last long. I don't hide it at all as it is pretty tame and I agree that dd should see some normal negative emotions in the house. Dd is unphased but will sometimes chip in with her opinion on who is at fault or why x happened(she's 4).

I did become aware that I was hiding anger from dd for precisely the reasons you give - and I'm now trying not to so much - even with dd herself as it's just not normal and I never 'lose it' - I just get a bit cross.

When I was young my parents had very regular fights mainly due to my mother who would scream alsorts of stuff and often violent too. Now that I don't consider acceptable behaviour and not something I'd want dc to witness.

hettie Wed 07-Oct-09 19:57:14

Some very good point already made. Interstingly there is a tonne of work in this area (I could bore you but I won't wink). The take home message for parents should be..... don't repress feelings/arguments- kids pick up on resentments passive agressive behaviour and this can be just as damaging. Aim to have resolution (even if its we agree to disagree). Neither party to exit/leave or threaten to leave/flounce off. Always acknowledge and discuss what you kids feel about it (but now in the don't worry its nothing to do with you vein- I'm not angry at you is ok, but don't discount their feelings by telling them it doesn't matter). And don't think if you do it behind closed doors, at night it makes it ok. There is a great book by a Prof Harold called "not in front of the children" it draws on research but it quite accesible and it makes a very clear point that children know when you argue even if you think you are 'hiding' it.

wheresmypaddle Thu 08-Oct-09 12:39:59

Thanks Hettie- if you have the time please bore me. I will look for the book you mentioned.

I know I shouldn't overanalyse (sp?!) but I would like to look into this subject some more and I feel if I had access to some material on this it would help me have a more balanced approach rather than going with my (not very helpful) instincts of hiding it all away.

MaMight Thu 08-Oct-09 13:10:20

What exactly do you mean by argue?

Is it necessary to argue?

Dh and I often disagree about stuff and so we discuss it cheerfully and come to a conclusion. I enjoy working towards a solution with him.

Very occasionally we feel a bit narked with each other, and we express it without shouting or unkindness, and one or other of us will appologise.

wheresmypaddle Thu 08-Oct-09 13:36:19

By argue I mean disagree. I feel DP have a good relationship but when we disagree we are not always able to do so in such a balanced and controlled way as you and your DH, MaMight- wish we could but we both have a hot headed side!!

There are times where we discuss things calmly but there are also times where voices become raised and tempers begin to fray. I am not talking about horriffic rows which is not our style(although there have been a couple- thought that was normal?!), but if I am honest there are times when one or both of us will huff and puff, raise our voice, get angry and be a little unkind. Its all forgotten eventually and although I'm not proud of it I honestly feel a more restrained approach would not work for us.

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