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Growth Spurts: On Handling Conflict

My husband and I don’t have a lot of disagreements. And when we do disagree, we’re not loud about it.However, a few weeks ago, we were having an argument in the kitchen, and our children could tell. They had been in the living room watching a movie, but when they walked through the kitchen, they sensed that something was going on between us. Again, we weren’t being loud, but they could tell by our facial expressions, body language, and tone of voice that something wasn’t quite right.

“What’s wrong?” they asked. “Are you and Daddy alright?”

Oftentimes, our parental protective instincts kick in when conflict arises, and we want to shelter our children from disagreements. We want them to feel secure in our love for each other and not fear that we aren’t getting along. But is it really best to shield them from all our conflicts?

I wholeheartedly believe that our children should not be privy to all the details of the conflicts between my husband and me, for that is a burden they should not have to bear. But I also wholeheartedly believe that if our children think we never disagree and don’t get to see us work through the conflict, they will not learn how to work through conflict themselves or even have the hope that it can be done.

So when my children ask, “Are you and Daddy alright?” I want to be honest with them and tell them that we are having a disagreement but that it’s okay. And later they will see that we have worked through the issue and are still very much in love with and in support of each other.

I think it’s healthy for our children to know, too, that we sometimes have conflicts with extended family members and friends. Not that we should make an announcement to them every time there is discord. But if our kids observe conflict on their own and then ask a question about it, it would be a disservice to them to just act like everything is okay. Give them all the details? No. Protect their little hearts and minds from certain subjects? Yes. (Children are usually satisfied with a generalized answer anyway.) Letthem know that having disagreements is just a part of life that can be handled with grace and forgiveness and love? Absolutely.

We teach our children to do so many things. Let’s not forget to teach them how to handle conflict, for they will surely have it throughout their lives.

 

Carrie Bevell Partridge lovingly disagrees with her husband sometimes in their home in Jackson, MS, but they’re alright. Visit Carrie’s blogs: www.oncarriesmind.blogspot.com and www.stuffmamaslike.blogspot.com.

About The Author

Carrie Partridge

Carrie Bevell Partridge grew up in Memphis, TN with her parents and four siblings. She attended Mississippi College, where she met her husband Kevin. They have been married for 20 years and have five children. They live in Ridgeland, MS. Carrie has written the “Growth Spurts” column and managed social media for Parents & Kids Magazine since 2011. You can read more of her work at carriebevellpartridge.com and Facebook.com/carriebevellpartridge.

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