No marriage or relationship is entirely without conflict. Come on, you have some degree of disagreement with your S.O. Right? But you try not to argue in front of your child. You’re pretty sure it’s just not a good idea. And, you totally want to shield your kiddo from the big bad that can be the adult world. Hold on just a moment. New research says that arguing in front of your child isn’t always the worst thing in the world. Take a look at what you need to know about managing conflict and research from the University of Arizona’s Norton School of Family and Consumer Sciences and the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.
Grad student Olena Kopystynska is taking a look at how couple conflict impacts kids. Her paper, which you can find in the upcoming issue of the Journal of Family Psychology, tackles parental conflict, parenting styles and the emotional security of children.
The researcher notes that there are constructive and destructive conflict styles. Constructive conflict management may not negatively impact the child. This style has a sense of calmness and is all about respect. It teaches kids that two people can have a difference of opinion without getting nasty.
But destructive conflict may result in kids who feel emotionally insecure. Kopystynska says, “Children are very good at picking up on little nuances of how their parents interact with each other, so it really matters how the parents express and manage their daily life challenges because that determines children’s confidence in the stability and safety of their family.”
The study used data from the Building Strong Families Project. The families were mainly low-income parents who were at high risk for stressor-driven conflict. From the data, the research team found that there were four couple profiles — constructive couples, destructive couples, couples with a constructive mother and destructive father and couples with a destructive mother and constructive father.
While conflict management didn’t seem to affect the dads, it did for the moms. Those in the destructive group tended to be harsher with their children.
What do you think of arguing in front of your kids? Share your thoughts in the comments below.