Moms Get Real: Fighting in Front of Your Kids

"Our actions often speak louder than our words when it comes to our kids."

ByMELISSA CHAPMAN via via logo
November 24, 2010, 9:58 AM

Nov. 24, 2010 — -- When I initially wrote my article, "Why Can't I Stop Fighting in Front of My Children," for the Washington Post, I had no idea that it would unleash a virtual hailstorm of hate aimed directly at me.

Why did I write it and put myself out there to be picked apart and judged by anonymous, faceless Internet users, the majority of whom harshly criticized my admission that I fought in front of my kids?

I'll be honest: Initially, I wrote it because it was my truth. I also believed in being forthcoming about the experiences I was having. Perhaps I'd open the door for others to come clean about the stuff that went on behind their closed doors, too.

In my post, I tried not to come across as a mother who felt validated by arguing with my husband in front of my kids; it was more about admitting that I was flawed and worried these flaws would have long-lasting consequences on my kids. I admitted I wanted to stop. But by the same token, I also wasn't willing to walk around with anger bubbling over until it ate away at the lining of my stomach.

When an ABC News producer asked me to be a part of the "Moms Get Real" segment with Juju Chang, initially I worried admitting I argue with my husband in front of our kids would once again open me up to a swarm of people toting pitchforks ready to burn me at the stake over my lack of self-control and my inability to put my kids' needs before my own "impulsive ones."

However, after listening to the other parents on the panel, I realized that, regardless of those holy rollers I encountered on my Washington Post blog, the truth is that we all struggle with same fears. We all wrestle, at times, with being right fighters when it comes to being the victor in an argument with our spouse. And yes, most of us -- myself included -- are having the same arguments 11 years into our marital union that we had during our courtship, still hoping that we may finally convince our better half of the error of their ways.

Of course, when you add kids to the mix and you see how viscerally they are impacted when they hear you and your spouse argue, everything else just melts away. The need to be right (like the fact that your husband needs to change the sweatshirt he's been wearing for the past four days, lest it simply dissolve on his body) and to have your voice and feelings validated by your better half no longer seems as pertinent. And you are haunted by the notion that Dr. Phil's statement, "When your kids see you argue, you change them forever," is more of an incontrovertible truth than you care to admit.

I'll be honest: I still struggle with being a right fighter -- although I think I have laid down the gauntlet when it comes to acquiescing my "rightness" over certain issues I know I will NEVER win.

What I really took away from this panel is that our actions often speak louder than our words when it comes to our kids. So everyday, I'm trying to live that truth, to remind my kids on a daily basis that they are loved and to care less about my spouse's idiosyncrasies.

Melissa Chapman is the author of the blog "Married To My Sugar Daddy"

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