Do you argue in front of your children?

Yesterday afternoon Michael and I got in a heated argument whilst the kids were nearby in the adjacent room. As much as I tried to control my temper and stay calm, I ended up shouting and storming out of the room. Within minutes, Quin was in tears, followed by Ivy, and they both walked into my bedroom crying.

At first, I felt an immense pang of guilt that they had to witness their parents arguing and that the experience had left them so shaken. But then, as I tried my hardest to regain my composure, I realised that it’s actually probably healthy for them to witness an argument and to know that not everything is always picture-perfect, and that we are human and we sometimes fight, but that we will eventually make-up and learn from this and things will be better because of it. I saw it as a perfect opportunity to explain to them that just because we had an argument, it doesn’t mean I don’t still love their dada, and that it’s healthier to communicate, and sometimes argue, than to sit back and let annoyances and anger escalate. I then walked out of my bedroom, spoke to Michael in a calmer manner, we resolved our argument, hugged each other and continued to make dinner.  Quin came in to help with the cooking, and I could see from his expression and body language that he could feel the ease of tensions. I felt better having had the argument and communicated my feelings, and our kids could sense this more relaxed vibe from their parents. That night at dinner we were able to laugh and talk about it.

Michael and I never used to argue in front of the kids. When we lived in London, we had a policy of never raising our voices or arguing in front of the children. And for 10 years, we never broke that rule. But then…. we left London and spent 18 months travelling together as a family (with absolutely zero separation from our kids), and the odd argument happened in front of the children. I remember having our first big argument in a campervan in New Zealand while it was pouring outside and there was honestly nowhere for us to go. Michael and I both knew we were breaking our ‘no fighting in front of the kids’ rule, but there was simply no avoiding it. And so we argued and debated and then resolved our argument all in the span of 15 minutes and all with the audience of our kids. And actually, whilst it was perhaps unsettling for them to witness, it was also reassuring for them to see that even though we argued, we still love and respect each other.

Of course there are some things we would never discuss in front of the kids; some topics are simply not appropriate for little ears. And it would be devastating for kids if the arguing was a constant thing and not a very occasional occurrence. Also, I think it is so super important never to argue about how you parent your kids in front of your kids. It only undermines you both as parents to argue over how best to parent your children. For example, sometimes I think Michael is being too lenient with Easton and I think he should give a harsher punishment, or occasionally Michael thinks I’m being unfair and uncompromising with my punishments… but these are not things we discuss in front of him — we have always shown a united front as parents.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that I don’t think it’s such a bad thing for kids to see their parents argue every once in a while. Kids are a lot more tuned in than we think they are, and they can sense when we are upset or have built-up anger. I think it’s better for them to experience an argument (with resolution) than for them to feel the tensions between their parents build and never resolve.

What are your thoughts? What’s your policy on arguing in front of your kids? I’d love to hear.

Courtney x

The photos above were taken by my good friend, Amelia Fullarton, earlier this year. 


Comments (6)

October 18, 2018

I absolutely agree on this point! I have 3 kids (4,6,8) and I believe arguments are a part of our life as everyone can have and express a different opinion and we can stand to it (which can lead to arguments). I believe it’s important that the kids are brought up in a realistic reflection of life and not to shield them off the negative sides, as these are amongst other an important lesson on how to resolve conflicts. To raise kids in an “artificial bauble” where everyone is nice and all is fine can lead to much disappointment later in life. A friend of mine was raised in a family where parents tried to protect their kids from the negative sides of live and after she left home, she experienced many disappointments when she realised the life and people around are not always as nice as she was thought to believe.

Esther in Amsterdam
October 18, 2018

I also agree. Tamar and I get in arguments (I always believe that a passionate relationship needs passionate arguments!) and it can happen in front of the children. This is part of life, and I agree it is good for them to see that people who love each other can get into a fight, but can also make up. It doesn’t mean it’s the end of the relationship! We also speak about sickness and death in front of our children. Like Zuzana points out, it is good for them to learn that loss, sadness and disappointment is a part of life, so that they learn to deal with it in a positive way. xx

October 18, 2018

I would go so far as to say it is essential for children to see their parents disagreeing and arguing (in a respectful way) in order to develop a healthy and balanced understanding of themselves, others and relationships. If we are to honour ourselves as individuals, there will be differences in how we each view and interpret life and various situations. What are we teaching our children if they never get to experience their role models authentically expressing what is important to them? My children have never been excluded from a disagreement,or from the resolution. And most importantly to me, I always sit down with them afterwards (in the more heated arguments) and make sure they are clear about what was really going on for us. So often when my husband and I argue there are actually underlying issues that may not have anything to do with why we are arguing (tired, pre-menstrual etc). I love how their understanding has grown, and how beautifully they are now able to interpret emotional situations. Pippa x

October 18, 2018

I agree %100. As long as you aren’t mean (being purposefully hurtful or name calling) to one another then it is good for children to see that ups and downs are a part of life and that your love as a couple isn’t conditional.

October 23, 2018

I love love love this topic. My husband and I lead a marriage enrichment group at our church in the US. There are so many marriages that fall apart because of not knowing how to communicate…and yes argue…properly. We have several couples in our group that never once saw their parents argue and as a result never learned (by watching) how to work out problems effectively. My husband and I get into disagreements in front of our kids once in a while and they learn that problems DO happen and thats no reason to panic. This is a very important dialogue to normalize in today’s society! Arguments are healthy and are part of normal communication! Thanks for this post!

September 30, 2020

Strong feelings are ok in our household and we have fought in front of our kids. I find it unrealistic to never fight in front of kids. The kids understand that everyone fights sometimes. I take care to explain later where they stand in relation to this (as in they are not to blame). If they feel in doubt, they know and feel safe to ask “Is it something I did?” and I think it is a good thing that they can check in. When they see us heated, sometimes they can tell what’s going on and shrug it off or they will speak up and Say “What are you guys fighting about??” Over time however, I have taken a stance to take certain topics offline or just say out loud that I won’t engage in the argument, having learnt from past experiences which arguments probably need to be resolved separately and won’t be successfully resolved while we are both super heated.

Leave a Comment