“Arguments, conflict and fighting are just a normal part of life,” well that’s how some adults who happen to be parents see it. And whilst it is true that conflict and disagreements are a part of life, does it mean that it’s okay to subject your children to it?
Do you remember being a child?
Do you remember seeing the the big people – the people who you looked up and thought highly of – fighting or having loud aggressive arguments?
Hopefully you did not. Or the disturbances you witnessed were rare and short lived!
But if you recall any of those moments, how did you feel?
The likelihood is that you felt frightened, nervous, anxious and confused. They certainly do not leave you with pleasant memories. But as I say, if they are rare you have likely been spared the worst type of harm.
Unfortunately many parents of children today have not been that lucky and as a result neither have their children.
Children who are exposed to arguments, aggression and verbal and physical violence are impacted in a number of ways.
Some children become depressed and go into themselves. Others begin to act out the aggression they witness onto others. Often it affects your child’s physical and emotional development and prevents them from developing to their potential and gaining the most from their education.
But these are some of the short term effects, the longer term ones are more damaging and have longer lasting consequences.
If you have seen a lot of conflict and domestic abuse in your childhood, over a period of time you will have become de-sensitised to it and it will have become a normal feature of your life.
This does not mean in any way that you have not been harmed by it. All it means is that you are past the point of showing, or more to the point , of being aware of the impact it has had on you.
It will manifest itself by the conflict you show to your partner/s and to others and the devastation or destruction that tend to follow people who have seen too much violence in their early and formative years.
What you are really doing unwittingly, when you expose your children to abuse and violence, is giving them the message that it’s okay to be aggressive or violent and it teaches them that this is the way they should be.
Sadly, for the most part when children learn this message throughout their childhood, they tend not to unlearn it when they reach adulthood and more worryingly they see no reason to change their behaviour when they become parents and inevitably pass on their harmful experiences onto those they love.
If you’ve ever had a relationship that’s gone badly wrong, it’s not at all uncommon for you to experience a lack of trust or faith in your capacity to form suitable relationships or choose appropriate partners.
The fact that you’ve had an unsuccessful relationship doesn’t mean that you’re necessarily a bad judge of character. Or that there are no other good men or women out there for you. It may not mean anything of the sort, sometimes couples just aren’t meant to be together and it doesn’t have to be a reflection on your judgement.
Of course if it happens time and time again, you’re going to need to ask yourself what lesson life is trying to teach you.
I always say that it’s really vitally important to think about and choose as wisely as you can when you decide to begin a relationship. I say this because sometimes the partners you choose can either have a very positive impact on your life or they can quite literally ruin your life and be the cause if you allow them to.
Whilst to some of you this may seem extreme, others will know from their own experience or that of others that there are some ex=partners that you can never turn your back on even when the relationship has been over for many years.
If you have ever been involved with a partner who is controlling and abusive either physically or emotionally, you will know what I’m talking about.
You know the type, it’s all about them, they may take you to court or you may have to take them but it’s not about the child really, it’s simply about power and control and the fact that one of the easiest ways to maintain a form of control over someone they used to control is to keep the conflict and control current. In that way the other partner is never able to get on with their life and move on the way they would wish to.
In such situations you really have to make up your mind how best to deal with an ex-partner whose mind is focused on vengeance and how you are going to be able to get on with your life.
If he or she was a highly controlling or manipulative person, it may well be that you require some form of counselling or therapy before you move on to meet a new partner. This is because often the impact of their behaviour over a period of time has left you ill equipped, lacking in confidence and the emotional resources to start all over again.
It is important that you close the chapter on your old relationship and work towards emotional closure of the earlier relationship.
There is a lot to be said for taking your time if and when you meet somebody new. There never is any reason to rush in or feel overwhelmed . Take your time, if they value you and your feelings they will respect you enough to give you the time you need to make sure you feel okay about everything or the speed with which things are moving.
You need to feel that you have an important say in your life as regards the relationship, just as they will. In the event that you take your time to find out who your new partner is, you will be in a much better position to make an informed decision about whether or not to take the relationship any further.
Hov do you talk about your child?
How often have you heard parents talk about their child as if their child were more of a possession than a human being with the same wishes, feelings, dreams, hopes and aspirations that we all share.
There is often a tendency to see the child you care for or brought into this world with the other parent as totally yours.
Mothers sometimes because of the way motherhood is looked at in this society can be inclined to think and act as if there views are the only ones that count.
Obviously I’m not referring to all mothers, since many mothers do and want to share the care and parenting of their child with their partner or child’s father.
Some fathers also show a proclivity to present as though they are the only ones who know best for their son or daughter.
However, irrespective of your relationship with your child it’s important to bear in mind from their earliest age that your child needs to continually thought about as being their own person and both parents have a joint responsibility in caring for their child/ren.
The job of being a parent, will in my view always pose numerous challenges, but one of the key roles of a parent is to teach by example. In other words teach your child by the way you behave and live your life, how to grow into healthy, independent adulthood.
In order to do this well, I believe you have to be able to see your child’s needs, wishes, feelings etc. as being totally separate from yours. Equally, if you have more than one child you have to be able to recognise the different needs, personalities etc. of your children and keep their thoughts and feelings at the forefront of your mind consistently.
Now for most parents this is obvious, but there are parents who are not as able to see this as others.
We all have blind spots and there are people who may be so into themselves or so caught up in intense feelings following a separation that they simply can’t differentiate sufficiently their feelings from those of their child/ren.
How do you ensure that you keep your children’s wishes and feelings in mind?
Well, one way may be to think about yourself and the range of different wants and expectations you may have given any aspect of your life. This may help you to question yourself about how open you are to thinking about such matters in relation to your child.
Another possible helpful way of ensuring you remain mindful of your child’s wants etc. might be to spend some time reflecting on your childhood. It may be that your parent, for whatever reason, didn’t take the time to sufficiently consider the things that were important to you as a child. If this is the case you may be able to use your experiences as a guide to help you become more focused on what’s important to your child/ren.
Too often parents forget or neglect to take the time to fully consider their child’s feelings and this has disastrous consequences for your child’s long term health and wellbeing.
Your child’s self-esteem can easily be undermined as a result of one or both of their parents failure to acknowledge and ant in accordance with their most important needs.
It’s vital that parents develop and maintain appropriate boundaries, in other words no where their wants start and end and their child’s begin.
Positive or high self-esteem and feeling good about yourself are crucial factors in helping you achieve whatever you want to achieve. Just think about it. If you don’t think you can do something, how motivated are you to even try. The lower your self-esteem, the less you actually achieve or even try to achieve.