If you and your spouse are having marital problems, it is important to have ground rules with your spouse regarding how you are communicating in front of your children, especially during the holidays. Parents should always remember that their words and actions, including body language, matter and children notice everything.
The holidays are challenging for many couples. There may be pressure to prepare for and have a “perfect” celebration. In addition, there may be tension from spending more time together as a family and with others. This year, COVID-19 is adding to this stress as spouses may have been living in close quarters for months while spending less time with other family and friends and going out for entertainment. However, no matter how parents may feel about each other, they should be careful about how they interact in front of their children. There are some simple guidelines:
- Don’t be disrespectful. Kids are watching and learning how to relate to their own future partner. If you are disrespectful, insulting, or condescending, your children will be upset, but they will also see that as acceptable or natural behavior between parents. Is that what you want?
- Don’t fight in public. If you have a disagreement, wait for a private moment to address it. Even if your spouse is behaving disrespectfully, you should avoid escalating the argument in front of your children.
- Be patient. Recognize that all of you may be tense and try to be understanding of each other. Don’t react immediately. Wait to cool off to have discussions.
- Be the person you want your children to be. Again, you are setting an example for your children both as an adult and as a parent. If you want your kids to grow up to be respectful, patient and considerate and to put their children first as parents, then you must behave that way now.
Whether you are ready to divorce or not, establish rules with your spouse about communicating in front of your children. It may also be a good idea to talk with a therapist or marriage counselor to obtain guidance on how to effectively address your conflicts and support your children.
If you are considering divorce, contact us to learn more about how we can help you achieve the best outcome in your case.