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Family Disputes in Front of Kids: Scars on The Easily Influenced Mind of The Child

Quleen Kaur Bijral

July 30th, 2015

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Image Source: MSNBC

It is natural for parents to have disagreements in a family but what adverse effects these fights, squabbles and rifts can have on the kids is a matter of serious importance. The need to vent one’s emotions in a family dispute is so high that it is generally forgotten as to how this loss of control can leave indelible scars on the impressionable mind of the child. As a child grows, the difficulties of life serve as a positive lesson for him/her. The child should not be isolated from these harsh realities of outside world rather they should be made comprehensible to him, and he/she must be a protected than ostracised from the same. In doing so, the skills to communicate, resolve issues, prioritise matters eventually begin to orient him/her towards self-control, maturity and logical awareness. In these crucial stages of life, the parents are the guardians representing a stable family, whom the kids look upto as amicable teachers, friends, and even models to imitate and learn from. When the relationship between the father and mother is stable and emotionally sound the kids are more open to trusting them with their secrets, experiences, and decisions. But this bond of love and safety is immeasurably shattered when kids witness their parents fighting each other and are shocked to rethink whether their mom and dad are friends or foes.

Parents fighting in front of the kids tend to break and damage the faithful foundation of a family and these internal disputes carry more damage on the kids’ mental stability than the quarrels with the outside elements. Such a feeling may be called ‘disillusionment’ which is a feeling of fear and dejection at seeing a friendly unit of family disintegrating with terrible aftershocks. Studies in child psychology are ambivalent that is either in favour of or in disapproval of parents fighting in front of the kids. In an attempt to bring a resolution on the matter, Here is comprehensive analysis of the issue one effect at a time.

Kids Forced to Choose Sides
This is by far the most emotionally damaging consequence when parents have an angry outburst right in front of the kids. Who is right, who to sympathise with, who to run from, these and many pungent questions eat away the kids who just a moment ago were under the impression that both mom and dad are a unit of trust and bonding. The kids cannot choose one over the other, and so are stuck in a painful deadlock while trying to make sense of the family dispute.

Feeling Cornered
Kids feel threatened when the parents lock horns and such a fear might make them trust strangers and make bad decisions which their parents had cautioned them to stay wary of. Depending on the level of the argument, and the recurrence of it, it is plausible the kids turn their fear into ridicule and then later into indifference toward the parents. The emotion of fear might change into desperation over seeing their parents resolve every issue with a loud fight. And if the frequency of these fights does not decrease, the kids might hate the parents for it or block such a harsh reality by deliberately feeling nothing at all. Doing so is their defence mechanism to cope up and live with it as yet another element of unfair reality.
Mea Culpa or ‘Through My Fault’
The possibility of the kid blaming himself for his parents’ quarrel is also plausible. The kid might not only think of himself as guilty but can take steps to remove himself altogether in the hope to bring the parents close. Avoiding to come home, leaving it, or isolating himself in the room and in some cases hurting himself for being responsible for his parents’ breaking up are some of the ways the child can vent his own exasperation at the situation.
Violence Is Justified
A kid becoming violent, anti-social or a bully generally points finger at the situation at home. If the parents resolve disputes by physically assaulting each other, the kids will naturally imitate them than condone violence.
These are the some of the effects which due to their emergency call for a sensitive handling of the problem. Conflicts and disputes at home are unavoidable and can go out of control. Hence it is better to adopt certain changes to make family disagreements a platform for the kids to learn from than feel traumatised by. Doing so will require a lot of self-control which should be inculcated for the healthy development of the child.
Talk than Swear or Assault
A verbal bickering is more acceptable than a physical aggression. It is also highly advisable to refrain from using bad language, curse words, and racist or sexist slurs as kids are listening and they will pick on them, a habit which will be hard to get rid of.
Done Fighting, Now Resolve It
What is more agonising to the kids is when the fight is not making any sense to them. It hence is prudent to have an amicable sit-down with the kids to explain them the reason of the fight and that it has been resolved and settled for good. This will protect the kids from blaming themselves and they will also realize that dispute is also a part of family which they do not have to be terrified of.
Postpone The Fighting Match or Change The Venue
If the matter is serious and cannot be disclosed to the kids, or can lead to serious repercussions, then it is advisable to not do it in front of the kids. Have a gesture as a signal to call-off the fight as long as the kids are in vicinity. Leave the room or ask the kids to, but in a manner which does not make the kids feel suspicious, abandoned or stupid.
It is in your hands to teach the kids the skills of having logical arguments than a vulgar assault. Why not make the family disputes a learning experience than a traumatic one, and if the issue is beyond your control, it is better to keep the kids out of it by literally keeping them out of it. A child with his/her impressionable mind might still forget a sore memory but there also chances that he/she might remember and imitate it. Let’s be hence cautious and in our control so that the child learns about the world while trusting the parents to be trustworthy even when imperfect guardians.

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