Inside Out 242: What Children Learn When We Fight Fair

04.04.12 | Martha Manikas-Foster

Should children see parents fight?

And before you answer, are you focusing more on the word “fight” in the above sentence and less on whether children ought to witness their parents quarreling?

Sorting out the language of confrontation occupied a significant place in the early months of my marriage as it became clear—quickly--that what I considered a discussion (albeit a heated one) met all the qualifications for a straight-up fight in my husband’s mental dictionary. 

Today’s Inside Out guest, let it be said, is very comfortable with the word “fight.” Caryn Rivadeneira is the author of the February 2012 her.meneutics blog post “Duke It Out for Them: Why Kids Need to See Their Parents Fight.” But when Rivadeneira uses the word “fight” she’s not egging us on to hurl insults or Grandma’s Haviland china platter across the room. For Rivadeneira, a fight is an energetic confrontation--and perhaps a venting of emotion—that maintains a foundation of love and respect between those who are quarreling. It’s this kind of fighting between parents —and the attendant reconciliation--which Rivadeneira believes can serve as a model for children in the home.

“Conflict is a real part of life. It’s a real part of marriage,” Rivadeneira says. “And so in any way that we can seek out to model it for our kids—in a healthy, good way—where they can see us disagree, maybe even a little vehemently, but then they can also see us resolve, and see that we love each other through thick and thin--whether we agree or we don’t, we still love one another--I just think that’s a really valuable gift to give our kids.”

Join us by clicking on the above icon to hear this conversation about the lessons of fighting fair in the home . . . and also in the church. Then let us know what you think by typing a message below.

Check out Caryn's blog post here.


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Inside Out airs Wednesdays at 12:20pm EST during the Family Life Noon Report.

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