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My wife and I have 8 month old baby boy. Having a fight, for example debating, is something that we don't want to do. But sometimes, we can't avoid having a fight in front of our son. When the situation goes bad like that, what should we do in order to avoid the negatives effect to our son, especially his emotion?

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4 Answers 4

up vote 14 down vote accepted

First off, you will argue. That's normal; that's part of being in a relationship, as I'm sure you've figured out. Having a child will only add stress to the relationship, so that means you will have arguments. Especially when you go on car trips together (close quarters for extended periods), visit relatives, etc.

Here's the thing: The way that you argue will be models for how your child argues with their spouse(s) in the future. If you are disrespectful to one another, then that will be how he reacts. If you are calm, considerate, and respectful, then that will be how he is.

The question is not whether or not you're going to argue in front of him; you will do that. The question is, what kind of argument do you want to model? That's really between the two of you. The way that you argue is part of the way you two interact, and if you don't like some aspect of it, then that's what you work on.

If you want to argue respectfully, here are some argumentative behaviors to avoid:

  1. Address the behavior, not the person. Never say something like "You always do that!", because then you're attacking the person and assuming that the behavior is intrinsic to them. Say something like, "Please don't do that." If you attack the person, then you start to associate your negative feelings about the action with the person, even if the person isn't doing that action you despise. Attacking the person builds long-term resentment, which is hard to recover from.
  2. Avoid getting stuck in a rut. If you find yourselves arguing repeatedly about a particular subject (money, school schedules, bedtime schedules, who changes the diaper, etc), try to head the argument off. Figure out what you can do together to avoid the argument (make a budget, make a schedule ahead of time, etc) to avoid the conflicts.
  3. Any argument between Mil and his girlfriend should be avoided (this is a bit of a joke; Mr. Millington has made a name for himself and his arguments with his girlfriend).
  4. As @Kith said, never, ever ask your child to take sides in an argument. There is no way for anyone to come out ahead in that situation.
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And don't forget to never, ever ask your child to take sides in an argument, or to set your partner up as "wrong" or "bad" for having a different idea/opinion/approach than you. –  KitFox Jun 4 '12 at 18:04
    
@Kith-- absolutely, completely true. –  mmr Jun 4 '12 at 20:16
    
@mmr- "Any argument between Mil and his girlfriend" is a very long article, I think I need more time to read it all. Anyway, thanks for your suggestions –  kalingga Jun 5 '12 at 2:43
    
@kalingga-- that article is more tongue-in-cheek than anything, and I've edited my answer to reflect that. It's more that they seem to argue over the littlest things, all the time, every day. But hey, it also seems to work for them, as (last time I've checked) they've been together for 15+ years and he's gotten some books out of it (amazon.com/s/…) –  mmr Jun 5 '12 at 3:28
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I agree that it is ok to argue in front of the kids and that it is a model for them on how to argue with their spouses. One exception my wife and I have to that rule is that we don't argue about things involving the kids in front of them. EG, if my wife gives my son a punishment and sends him to bed early, I don't tell her in front of him that I think she overreacted. Always back your partner's play in front of the kids. You can discuss it later in private. –  Kevin Jun 18 '12 at 21:57

One thing I’ve heard suggested is that if an argument starts in the child’s presence, it should also be resolved in his or her presence (i.e.: if you get into an argument, don’t take it to another room to spare the child). The reasoning is that the child won’t understand that the argument was resolved, so his or her tension remains. You also lose the opportunity to model the resolution of disagreements.

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Yes, this is HUGE!!! –  Christine Gordon Nov 30 '12 at 6:03

When the behavior that you are displaying begins either one of you can say, we need to table this until after the baby goes to sleep. Then be sure to pick it up at that time to get it out of your system. It is good to practice this now, as when the child gets older it becomes even more important. And if you do end up fighting infront of a child, be sure to explain that people who love each other sometimes fight, but then they make up and that is healthy and normal.

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I like the idea of explaining people who love each other sometimes fight, thanks –  kalingga Jun 5 '12 at 2:45

Firstly, I would say there's a huge difference between having a fight and having a debate. A debate sounds like something healthy.

I would avoid raised voices and name calling. Avoid throwing things and slamming doors. Avoid saying things that you are going to regret. Anything that can be construed in anyway as violent, whether verbally or physically, should be avoided.

Walking away and taking some quiet time alone should be one solution you try, especially if you are going to allow your child to have quite time as one of the potential ways of addressing his frustrations as he grows up. This will be actually setting a good example.

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+! "I would avoid raised voices and name calling. Avoid throwing things and slamming doors." –  woliveirajr Jun 4 '12 at 17:46
    
@Dave, I'm sorry I mean having a fight is kinda arguing each other. In my mind, it is like debating in falsing each other. Anyway your opinion is good input for me. Thank you –  kalingga Jun 5 '12 at 1:36

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