Are you a dad in a relationship filled with conflict? Are you a parent who is continually finding yourself at odds with your partner and unable to maintain respectful communication? If so, then this week’s Facts for Fathers, Respecting Mom is Part of Being a Good Dad is for you.
Supporting children’s well-being means finding ways to be respectful of each other as parents, no matter your situation.
When children have fathers who respect and support their mothers, and mothers who respect their fathers – everyone benefits. Moms are more patient and sensitive. Dads are more involved and confident. Working together helps children thrive.
It is difficult for kids when their fathers (or mothers) are disrespectful or abusive towards their partners or ex-partners. Try this True or False quiz on the effect of parents’ conflicts.
T or F? Even very young children are affected by conflicts between their parents.
T or F? Although children may seem to “get over” fights quickly, the impact is often long-lasting.
T or F? Children are usually aware of the conflict between their parents, even if their parents try to fight only when the children are asleep or out of the house.
T or F? Children understand that fathers can love and respect their mothers even if they occasionally lose control and say or do things they regret.
T or F? How fathers relate to children’s mothers has substantial and lasting impacts on the father-child bond.
T or F? Children often think that fights between their parents are their fault.
*ALL OF THESE ARE TRUE
Children are negatively affected when one or both of their parents are disrespectful or abusive towards each other. Parents often underestimate how much this kind of behaviour affects children. Here are some of the ways children react:
- Feel confused, embarrassed, scared, guilty, alone or unsafe.
- Blame themselves.
- Worry about their parents, and might try to do something to stop the fights.
- Get caught in loyalty conflicts.
- Get less positive engagement from both parents.
- Learn unhealthy lessons about how men treat women in relationships, or how women treat men in relationships and about what it means to be a parent.
- Feel like there is no one to turn to.
- Have less energy to do kid things, like learn in school and play with their friends.
- Act out with aggression or defiance, or become anxious or depressed.
Some additional insights from research to know when and what type of conflict is harmful:
“Parental conflict is harmful to kids when it is frequent; when it is heated and hostile, involving verbal insults and raised voices; when parents become physically aggressive; when parents withdraw from an argument or give each other the silent treatment; when the conflict seems to threaten the intactness of the family; and when it’s about the child.”
If you are struggling to be respectful and supportive of your partner or ex-partner, don’t wait. Reach out to others to make a positive parenting choice – get help. Your kids will thank you.