I came across a poll in Parenting magazine the other day, which asked the question: Is it okay for couples to fight in front of their kids?
Not surprisingly, 82 percent of the liars parents thought it wasn’t.
And it probably isn’t. But does that mean it isn’t going to happen? Likely not. Granted, while I was married to JP’s mother, fighting was part of our daily routine, as ingrained into our daily life as coffee with breakfast and armed robbery. Not saying that’s good, but it was. In fact, in our case, it was bad, done freely in front of JP, and eventually, led to our divorce.
But that doesn’t mean that my girlfriend and I have never disagreed (although our first argument came eight months or so into our relationship, which I thought was a miracle). We’ve even disagreed in front of JP. Nothing like what went on when I was married, and the fact that I can communicate well enough with my girlfriend to avoid most arguments and shorten those that can’t be avoided likely means we’re a good match.
The real question, though, is whether or not it’s bad to fight in front of the kids. My answer is: not really. First of all, what’s the point of calling something that’s definitely going to happen a bad thing? It just sets up an expectation that can’t be met. Second, successful conflict resolution is a good thing for a child to see (and yes, what constitutes successful is a matter of debate).
Anyway, surveys like the one on Parenting seem to me yet another example of the ways in which those of who are perhaps less than perfect role models for our children–but still good role models–are failing compared to some absurd ideal. It’s like anorexic models and teen girls (only not).