Growing up I never saw my parents share the same couch, only when we had visitors and you could almost feel my mother’s discomfort from a distance.
I never saw them hug or kiss. Only on my mother’s birthday and this will be forced. I never saw that intimacy and love between my folks, not saying they did not love each other but this has somewhat built me not to care or give much attention to relationships. For what if we are not entirely happy and it’s just an image to please society?
Before I get too personal, today’s post is about how parent’s relationship can affect the well being of a child. There is no such thing as a conflict free relationship but do parents actually sit down and think of how throwing dishes across the room in front of the child could affect them?
Parental conflict is harmful to kids, however, when it is frequent; when it is heated and hostile, involving verbal insults and raised voices; when parents become physically aggressive; when parents withdraw from an argument or give each other the silent treatment; when the conflict seems to threaten the intactness of the family.
Researchers have said “children from high-conflict homes are more likely to have poor interpersonal skills, problem solving abilities and social competence.” Those problems negatively impact their romantic relationships in adolescence and adulthood, as conflicts cause children to “perceive themselves and their social worlds more negatively” and to “have more negative pictures or internal representations of family relationships.” Thus the high-conflict relationship of one couple can produce other negative relationships in the next generation.
Conflict between parents harms kids in part because of a spill over effect. Parents in high-conflict relationships tend to be worse parents, engaging in more criticism, aggression, making threats, shouting, and hitting. Some of the criticism hurts more than they think which is why we have a lot more of children who do not believe in themselves. They are belittled from home.
What happens at home really does affect children’s long-term mental health and development. Sometimes it does not have to be physical but:
- Threats of abandonment (such as threatening to leave the house or divorce)
- Any form of physical aggression (including throwing things or punching things in anger)
- Walking out or withdrawing from the argument
- Capitulation (giving into the other parent when there’s not really a solution)
- Silent treatment
Children look up to their parents for a number of things including problem solving. It’s also important to think about the message that you’re sending to your kids about loving relationships. If you and your partner treat each other with disrespect, your kids will grow up thinking that it’s OK to do the same and perhaps they’ll believe it’s OK to let others treat them poorly too.
However it is important to always reassure children that arguments happen, you love each other and are a strong family.