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Should I avoid arguing with my partner in front of my child?

Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)
The most potent form of childhood stress is tension between parents or the adults of the household. The problem is not the conflict per se -- in fact, it's healthy for children to see that people disagree; otherwise they grow up with unrealistic notions about human interaction and avoid conflict, which can have its own negative consequences. Here's the real problem: While conflict is a part of any marriage or relationship, kids don't always see the resolution part of the equation.

Think about it: Mom and Dad fight about given topic. They throw a few barbs at each other, then give each other the silent treatment. Tension runs high, and the kid can feel that anxiety. Then a few more barbs (or dishes?) are thrown before the parents decide to take their argument private so that their youngster doesn't have to witness it anymore. Consequently, the kid never sees how two people can resolve their disagreements, make up, and move on. Without witnessing the reconciliation process, the child remains in a state of anxiety worrying about the future of his parents' relationship.

It's neither realistic nor helpful to pretend that conflict doesn't exist. Nor is it healthy for a child to be exposed to constant fighting. Rather, a loving environment is one where hurts can be forgiven and differences of opinion can be resolved through mutual respect. It's your job to model that behavior.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.