Your spouse stumbles down the stairs at 10 a.m. on Saturday morning complaining about how tired he is. Meanwhile, you’ve been up for four hours already feeding and entertaining your offspring. “Excuse me?!?” you feel like screaming. But looking over at your kids greeting your partner with giant smiles and open arms, you decide to table his comment for later (or, you know, just simmer in resentment for the rest of the day).
Maybe you witnessed your parents argue growing up and swore you’d never do that to your kids. Or maybe your parents never exchanged an unkind word to one another, behavior that you’d like to model for your own children. Or maybe you read somewhere that you and your spouse should present a united front in front of the kids which means keeping disagreements and grievances behind closed doors. Because everyone knows that it’s bad for kids to see parents fight, right?
Actually, no. Parenting experts stress that not only is it good for kids to see their parents bicker over whose turn it is to unload the dishwasher, it’s actually important they do so.
“It can actually be helpful to model good communication and the process of navigating disagreements for your children,” marriage and family therapist Marisa T. Cohen tells us. “If spouses demonstrate effective problem solving and validate one another's emotions and thoughts, children can actually learn the power of constructive communication.”