Kids are Watching – To Fight or Not?

I realize this might be a hotly debated topic, that is not my intention.  We always hear, don’t fight in front of the kids.  Parents need to appear as a united front, a team.  Kids need to see you working together.  

I agree that parents are a team, meant to support one another, and kids need to see that.  But, they also need to see reality and what to do when reality happens.  I mean come on, does working together always look pretty? 

We don’t have to go far to see how divided the world is, how ugly and critical people can be.  We see the worst played out on social media, in the news and all around us.  There is no way this ugliness doesn’t sneak into our homes at times.  

I remember one weekend my husband and I were at a marriage retreat.  It was during a particularly rough time in our marriage, not going to lie.  We’ve been married for 26 years, there have been some rough years.  

We were sitting at a table with about 4 other couples and a priest. One gentleman spoke up and shared that he believed that parents should never fight in front of the kids – that they should always appear in agreement when the kiddos are around and work out their disagreements privately.  While this is a great goal, it simply isn’t realistic – in my humble opinion.  

I normally sit quietly in situations like this, always wanting to please, to be liked.  But, after listening to this unrealistic perfection that made me feel like a failure of a mother, I spoke up.  Maybe it was that Rob and I had been fighting lately and I just couldn’t sit there and listen any longer.  

I said how I felt and it boils down to this.  

I think its important that kids see reality and how hard marriage really is.  We screw up. We have to apologize.  We have to walk away and calm down.  We are vulnerable and that can be ugly in the safety of our loved ones.  If our kids never see this, they won’t know how to handle it when it happens in their marriage and/or other relationships.  They won’t know how to put in the hard work, how to apologize and how to love unconditionally.  

To my surprise, the tablemates and the priest actually agreed with me.  

We live in a world where everyone posts highlights on social media.  This can make us feel inferior ALONE.  We think we are the only ones struggling.  

Seeing imperfection in the home models compassion and forgiveness and how to properly apologize and how to unconditionally forgive.  It teaches them that people are human and will make mistakes.  It also teaches them that we have to take responsibility for our actions and our mistakes.    

There is no better place than the home to teach them about the kind of humans we want them to be.  It can be used as an opportunity to talk to your kids.  “Mommy lost her patience and yelled and now I need to make things right.” Let them see a genuine and compassionate apology.  

Living a lifestyle of purpose is about having passion every day doing what you do, being the leader you are, where you are.  It doesn’t mean we get it right all the time. Let others see the real you, including your children.  It opens the door for great conversations.  Learning how to have respectful conflict and honest apologies are something our world is sorely lacking.  

With Purpose,

Kelly

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