PARENTS FIGHTING HURT CHILDREN
by sana edoja
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I just wanted to share with you the articles below as I've come to realize that we need to change to be better parents for the sake of our kids. It is not only God that says that, but the psychologists are saying it too. I came to the conclusion that when God say He is going to do something in my life, He might take 10 years or more between the time He speaks into my life and the time, He actually does things. Maybe we don't want to know about the things that God wants to do, or we might not be ready psychologically. God needs first to reach our hearts before we can let go and trust Him with those very things He plans to do in our life.
Unfortunately, the hurts that we have encountered as kids follow us into our adults life. Only God can undo those things with the help of the Bible, psychotherapists, amazing Christian therapists books, patience and much praying. We have to get down to earth because we live in an imperfect - fallen world. We have to follow God revelation about our sinful nature and work at it. It happens only when we realize that those issues are not good and we must get rid of them, because the cycles can repeat itself from generation to generation, so we have to say: "STOP". I want to get rid of those nasty habits by getting some help and working at it. Well, I think God is calling us for a time of purification from our sins, it might not be how everybody feels about it right now. It is a process which only the Holy Spirit can help us to achieve in his timing.
Christians topic books that deal with anger, forgiveness, worry, etc are so great. I can testify that most books change people lives, they help those struggling with issues to find the appropriate solution. Topic books tackle issues differently and might not be helpful for every reader. My advice is to keep buying books dealing with your problem, until you found the one that speak directly to your problem and give you the appropriate solution.
Most parents disagree with their spouses on one or the other issues on various occasions. No one agrees on everything. Disagreeing with each other is natural and normal. But how you, as parents, handle conflicts with one another has a lasting impact on your children, their emotional health, and the decisions they will make about relationships later in life.
If both the spouses are normal in their behavior, mature enough to understand the issues in the right perspective, and sensitive towards each other, they know how to deal with their differences in peaceful and respectful manner.
But, that happens rarely.
Most of the times, either one or both of the parents deal with their differences in unpleasant manner and this is how parents’ fighting begins.
Even if one spouse is normal, mature and sensitive enough, the other fighting spouse does not let this one settle the differences peacefully.
Children not only need both parents but they need both happy parents.
Parents Fighting—It’s a Scary Time For Kids
It starts out as a simple disagreement or misunderstanding, but soon it escalates into harsh words and yelling or screaming. In some homes there will be tears and even physical pushing, shoving, or hitting. No, it’s not the children who are out of control. It’s the parents. They’re fighting . . . again.
As hard as fighting is on you and your spouse, and as emotionally draining as it is on the two of you, parents fighting is even harder on the children. When parents are out of control, it totally rocks a child’s world. Because if the parents—who are essentially the center of the universe for a small child—aren’t solid and stable and reasonable, then it seems absolutely nothing in their world is. And the child’s security is destroyed.
When parents fight, children feel the tension and the hostility. They become physically and emotionally upset themselves. You can see it in their faces and their body language, even if they don’t say it with words. They may cringe, cower, or hide. Some children hold their breath, start to hyperventilate, or get nauseous. Others will cry. All of them—regardless of how they do or do not show it or say it—are scared stiff.
Parents Fighting—“It’s not my fault, is it?”
Because children have little frame of reference and the world they live in is small, centering on themselves and their families and their limited exposure in life, they think everything that happens is directly related to them. And it is, of course, but not in the way that children think.
When parents fight, regardless of what parents are fighting about, many children blame themselves, thinking that somehow they might have been able to prevent the blow up, even when it wasn’t triggered by anything the child did or did not do.
If it is pre-empted by a situation involving the child or even a discussion about the child, they think that if only they had been “good,” their parents fighting wouldn’t be happening. Children internalize the problem and develop anxiety when parents fight.
Even though there is absolutely nothing they can do to change the circumstances, the fear eats at them from the inside out, doubts and insecurities fill their world, and they begin to suffer from low self-esteem.
Lasting Images of Parents Fighting
Many children carry lasting images of their parents fighting from their childhoods, long into adulthood. Memories of particular fights can traumatize children and stay with them forever.
In particular, if there is physical abuse in the home, the images of parents fighting will remain, never to be erased. For children, living in a home where parents are fighting and violence is a part of “everyday” life, it’s like living in a war zone. Children in these circumstances can suffer all sorts of dysfunctions too numerous to list—from bed wetting to learning disabilities to recurrent nightmares or headaches or stomach aches to ulcers. Children who must learn to survive in this kind of environment are suffering from incredible stress.
If You Watched Your Parents Fighting, You Learn Fighting—Or Peace Keeping.
Children learn behaviors and norms from the people closest to them—their parents. But if a family is dysfunctional, they will also learn that dysfunctional behavior. When a child grows up with parents fighting all the time, they either come to think of that as “normal” and become fighters themselves—frequently bullying other children or needing to have control in their other relationships—or they recognize that it is not normal and will do anything to avoid it. In the latter case, they become children who are altogether unassertive, giving in whenever there is a conflict or disagreement about anything, because they would rather keep the peace at all costs than risk an argument.
Neither of these approaches is healthy or effective in the long term. Children—and all people really—need to learn how to resolve conflicts in a calm, peaceful manner through effective communication techniques. But the children of battling adults have no role model to teach them this necessary skill. Children learn by example—and the children of parents who are always fighting—will struggle with relationship issues all their lives because they never learned how to communicate, compromise, and get along with others. They had no positive example to follow.
The Long-Term Effects of Parents Fighting
Most parents—especially those who don’t physically brawl with each other or consider their relationship abusive—don’t realize how much of an effect their fighting has on their children. While they can easily see how the extreme circumstances in other people’s homes could traumatize children, they fail to see that their own arguments and disagreements may be impacting their own children.
When children grow up in a home where the parents fighting is out of control, the child’s security is snatched away, and the child feels out of control of anything in his or her young life. The child doesn’t learn effective discipline techniques—not even how to exercise self-discipline. The trauma from the memories of the fighting can cause the children of fighting parents to avoid relationships or marriage because they fear repeating the cycle. In other cases, the children do grow up, enter into relationships, and repeat the cycle.
Even in families where parents fighting is not an extreme problem, parents should remember that what they do and say, and more importantly, how they act toward one another, influences their child, their child’s self-esteem, and their child’s short- and long-term emotional health, as well as their future relationships. One of the best things parents can do for their children is to set a healthy example when they do not see eye to eye and to seek counseling, if necessary, to develop more effective communication and conflict resolution techniques if fighting is an issue in their home.
You know that sick feeling that comes over you when you and your husband are shouting angrily at each other -- and then you look up and see your child standing wide-eyed in the doorway?
If you're like me, you can remember just how upset you felt when you heard your own parents argue. By the time we were preteens, my sister and I had suggested to my parents that they get divorced if they couldn't get along any better. They never did anything of the kind, so I have to conclude it bothered us more than it bothered them.
What is the effect of parental arguments on the children who overhear them? Here are the insights of Dr. John W. Jacobs, M.D., author of "All You Need Is Love and Other Lies About Marriage," and Dr. Carol Ummel Lindquist, Ph.D., author of "Happily Married With Kids" and happilymarriedwithkids.com.
Is Arguing in Front of the Kids Always Harmful?
An occasional disagreement -- call it a "heated negotiation" -- during which you treat each other with respect and move into problem-solving, say therapists, is actually a good thing for kids. It's considered a form of role modeling. But arguments in which you repeat the same points over and over, or call each other names -- where you are venting resentments rather than solving problems -- have no up side for the children. "If you bully one another, your kids learn to bully others," Lindquist warns. "And they will turn that treatment right back on you once they are teenagers."
Do Parental Fights Have a Negative Influence on Kids?
"Children start by being frightened by their parents arguing," says Jacobs. "Later, they become disgusted. 'How can they live like this?' they wonder. Eventually, they develop a fear of being similarly trapped, and as adults may have the tendency to bail out of relationships early." Jacobs says that while much is written about the damage caused by divorce, the damage is even worse for children whose parents stay in unhappy, bitter, explosive marriages.
What Can Parents Do to Minimize Any Trauma?
If kids witness a bad argument, don't sweep it under the rug, says Lindquist, go ahead and apologize to them. Reassure them that you love each other. Mention specifically, in age-appropriate terms, how you would have liked to talk about the conflict. For example: "I'm sorry Daddy and I were arguing last night. We both feel bad when we say bad words. We can work things out better when we don't interrupt each other and use soft voices."
But you can only get away with this so many times, says Jacobs. After a while, the words ring false. If you can't tone it down, get some help.
Useful questions and answers from Doctor Les Carter, psychologist for the Minirth Clinic:
My seven year old daughter is a TV junkie. She watches TV whenever she is home with free time. When I try to tell her to stop watching, she’ll just go to another part of the house and watch a different TV. No amount of pleading can make her obey. What can I do?
Dr. Carter: It seems to me that the wrong person is calling the shots at home. I know that TV can prove to be a powerful lure for kids, which is why they need parents to help them apply the restraint that is not natural to them. Don’t plead, use consequences. It is reasonable to put limits on the amount of time she will get to spend watching approved shows (say, one hour per day, if that much). When she chooses to disobey, then let her know what privileges she will forfeit. When she predictably complains, don’t bargain with her or argue the legitimacy of your position. Be calmly firm and let her know that you will follow through on the consequences. When she tries to pull a run-around by going to a different part of the house to watch TV, that immediately is met by a consequence. (E.g. When she will not cooperate, she will lose TV privileges for the next day.)
Your daughter needs you to be firm and she actually will feel more insecure if you don’t show firmness. Perhaps you are reluctant to be as firm as necessary because of a need to be seen as a “good guy.” Remember, she needs you to be her parent, not a coddler who is afraid to hurt her feelings.
I have been divorced for the past two years. My ex-husband has become everything I don’t want my sixteen year old son be. He’s into partying and women and general irresponsibility. I know I’m not supposed to put my son’s dad down to him, but I want him to understand that I don’t want him to turn out the same as his dad. So far, he’s a good kid, but I’m afraid that his dad’s influence will eventually rub off on him. How do I discuss this subject with my so, or should I ?
Dr. Carter: You are indeed facing a trying and delicate situation. Studies show that when divorced parents speak ill of the other parent, the children suffer. Yet I can understand that you do not want to stand idly by and let the dad’s behavior go unaddressed.
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