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What happens when divorcing spouses fight in front of the kids?

Divorce is often a painful, stressful process. As a result, it is not uncommon for divorcing spouses to fight with each other. While fighting is expected, the fact is that it can be damaging – particularly when people fight in front of their kids.

If you are navigating a difficult divorce, you should know how fighting in front of your kids can affect them.

How fighting affects children

Whether you are going through a divorce or not, fighting with your spouse or ex in front of your kids can take a dramatic toll on a child. It can:

  • Increase a child’s stress levels
  • Make a child feel insecure about familial stability
  • Adversely affect the warmth and affection between children and parents
  • Put a child at increased risk of experiencing depression and anxiety
  • Impair a child’s performance in school
  • Affect a child’s ability to maintain healthy relationships
  • Create behavioral problems
  • Contribute to physical maladies, like headaches and sleep disorders

Exposing a child to parental conflict can have devastating consequences. As such, parents must make an effort to avoid fighting in front of kids during a divorce.

Making changes to protect your kids

Conflict can be inevitable during a divorce. However, you can make decisions and change behaviors to refrain from exposing your child to it.

Possible ways you can protect your kids include:

  • Minimizing any face-to-face contact with your ex
  • Restricting conversations to email or texts
  • Seeking counseling or therapy to get help with how you handle conflict, anger and stress
  • Talking to your children – with the other parent, if possible – after an argument to reassure them
  • Scheduling time with the other parent to work out conflicts in a place away from your children
  • Refusing to discuss hot-button subjects without your attorney

Though it may be uncomfortable or inconvenient to take these steps, the fact is that doing so can be in your child’s best interests, especially when you are going through a divorce.

And rather than focusing on fighting with an ex, understand that it can be more valuable to put that time and energy toward your relationship with your child. Shifting the focus from your ex to your child can help everyone feel safer and happier in the long run.