Why you shouldn't save your arguments for 'when the kids are in bed'.

Arguing in front of the kids. Some couples do it. Some don’t.

So, who’s right?

Actress, Laura Dern has recently told The Telegraph that she thinks it’s healthy for couples to fight in front of their children.

Dern, 47, who has two children with ex-husband Ben Harper says, “This is being human – you get angry, you get hurt, you yell and say things you don’t mean – and then you circle back and you’re accountable. Otherwise kids hit adulthood and they don’t know how to deal with conflict.”

The good news? She’s right. (You have permission to exhale deeply now).

But – there are rules. (Dammit).

Psychologist, Jo Lamble has told Mamamia there are three must-do’s for every arguing couple:

1. Ban personal attacks

2. Don’t show contempt or lack of respect for each other

3. Don’t get physical

Jo Lamble

“And – importantly,” Lamble says, “make sure the children see a resolution. It doesn’t matter how it happened. You can sort that out between yourselves. But they need to see that it’s worked out and it’s okay – that’s a normal argument. It says to your kids, “we’ve talked and we’re okay””.

If you simply don’t argue, that’s okay. But if you do and you’re saving it for ‘behind closed doors’ or once the kids are in bed, you could be doing more damage than you realise when it comes to them forming their own relationships later down the track. “If you never see your parents argue,” Jo says, “then it can be difficult for a child to learn how to ‘resolve'”.

So, how do you know if you and your partner are arguing the RIGHT way? It’s pretty hard to tell mid-conflict, right? Well, apparently it comes down to what you call it.

Ask yourself: Do you ARGUE or do you FIGHT?

There’s a difference. If you tend to use the word ‘fight’ then you’re probably making more personal attacks. If you use the word ‘argue’, you’re more likely to be having more of a ‘respectful disagreement’.

And that’s a good thing. “In some good relationships, couples fight”, Jo says, “that doesn’t mean fighting is bad”.

“Most importantly,” she says, “all of these rules are crucial – whether the kids are watching or not”.

Pretty sound advice.

Do you argue in front of your kids? How do you and your partner manage ‘disagreements’? 

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