Fighting in Front of My Daughter

Updated on March 19, 2011
S.A. asks from San Diego, CA
22 answers

I feel strongly about not fighting with my husband in front of my 15 month old daughter. My husband will continually try and have arguments in front of her. He feels that yelling is bad, but is not phased by us having heated discussions/arguments in front of her. I still feel that us speaking harshly to each other and arguing frequently in front of her is not good for her. I try to not be goaded into the argument when he starts them in front of my daughter, but this backfires as he gets increasingly frustrated by my lack of interaction and gets even more upset. I ask him to wait until she is not in the room for us to have the argument, but he ignores my requests and continues with his discussions. I just find myself relenting and agreeing to whatever he wants just to make the argument end so that my daughter does not have to deal with it. Does anyone have any advice on how to explain to my husband that fighting in front of my daughter is harmful and that we should reserve our heated disagreements for when she is not present? Or, alternatively, am I just being too paranoid and is arguing in front of her not harmful to her?

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So What Happened?

Thank you ladies for all of your input! I think I may have been too overly cautious about having discussions in front of my daughter. My husband has been saying that what is more important is for us to fight with respect and not digress into childish name calling and the like. I think he is right in that regard and I like the idea of setting boundaries and ground rules with respect to fighting in front of my daughter. I also like the idea of resolving the issue in front of my daughter, so that she sees that we still love each other and that it is healthy to express your feelings. I think that will help tremendously. Thank you again!

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answers from Chicago on

I think it is good for her to see ALL forms of communication so long as the negative conversations 1. come to a peaceful resolve and 2. do not out number the good communications.

Oh and no screaming/yelling matches in my opinion but we really do not do that anyways.

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answers from Stockton on

It is ok to have disagreements in front of your kids - unless it is about your kids in my opinion. As long as they are not going over the top. Your kids need to see and realize that people can have disagreements and work through them. You both need to compromise. As far as discussions about how to handle your children, I don't think you have those discussions in front of them because you need to present a united front so that your kids don't try to play you guys against each other.

So in a nut shell, as long as you guys can have a disagreement and resolve things amicably, then I see nothing wrong with having the discussion in front of your kids. At 15 months, se probably isn't really paying attention anyways.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

It's important to teach our kids conflict resolution skills. That assumes, of course, that we have them!
People used to argue behind closed doors and kids never heard it. I'm not sure that was healthy. Everyone argues. If we can work disagreements out in front of our kids, they are no worse for the wear. Name calling and character assassination has to be avoided. But I dont think just having a heated disagreement has to be hidden from the kids.

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answers from Dallas on

I don't think you should argue frequently in front of her but if you do argue in front of her you need to make sure she also sees you resolve it otherwise she never learns healthy conflict resolution.

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answers from St. Louis on

I completely understand your dilema. Our household is quite the same, where there is me "giving in" for the sake of not arguing in front of the kids. But, I have learned to realize that the kids seeing us "fight" is not the end of the world. It shouldn't happen frequently, and there should be no disrespect (hopefully), but a "healthy" fight with a "healthy" ending is a reality. We cannot protect our kids from everything. Try to make a good balance when it is better to let it go and talk later, or when you should stick up for yourself and hammer it out for a few minutes.

Regarding your hubby, the only thing I can suggest is to keep talking with him about your concerns sometime when all is well, you are getting along, and the child isn't present. Don't make it a finger pointing session and he will be more receptive.

Good luck to you. It will get better as the kids get least it does for us. =)

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Pocatello on

It would depend on the argument and how you handle it. Arguments that cannot be settled quickly should be discussed in private, or things that could unsettle your daughter's sense of "safety" (like how can we afford this house, or how can we afford to eat, etc...)

However, kids learn how to "negotiate" with other people by watching mom and dad's examples. If you both are acting like adults when you argue, and don't LET it get into a fight, or resort to name calling or cussing, you daughter may benefit in several ways. She'll begin to learn that 2 people can disagree and yet still find "middle ground" and find a place of agreement. She will also learn that you can be mad or angry or frustrated with someone and STILL love them. If you do argue in front of her, you need to still "kiss and make up" and show eachother affection once you resolve the issue, so she can SEE that you both still love eachother, and her!

That said, if your arguments are visibly stressing her out... you need to stop him and say- lets discuss this in private- its upsetting the baby. Kids can handle SOME tension... but at this age they do need to feel safe and secure, and too much stress in the home can cause unintended consequences! A two-minute rant about the dishes or laundry probably wont hurt her... but yelling at each-other about finances or family issues could really upset a baby this small. Basically, when she is in the room... you both need to pick your battles wisely, and when in doubt- bite your tongue!

Save the real difficult arguments for later on. Let go of things that are more "little annoyances"- and bring up issues that are recurring, or pretty serious in private, at a time when you can get it all out.

In our house we have two "guidelines" for arguing... 1. we never go to bed angry with an unresolved argument (even if that means we have to argue all night) 2. We love and respect each-other- so hitting "below the belt" is not ok! We don't change the subject, resort to name-calling, or involve our daughter in arguments- the bottom line is that we love each-other and if that is gone, well there is nothing left to argue about!

Maybe setting up your own guidelines for your relationship will help... Maybe you could agree to NOT bring up hot topics in front of the baby as one of them... if you feel she is being stressed out by them. Make it clear to your husband exactly how you feel on this topic, and try to hear his opinion as well. Maybe he just doesn't realize the position you feel that you are in? If you think he DOES know exactly what he is doing and is trying to "get away" with things... maybe you should (in private) call him on it! Of course, you need to work with the dynamics of how YOUR marriage works, and what works for me, may be totally wrong for you!

Good Luck!

(ps- don't forget those "I" phrases.... "I feel, I think, I suspect, I need..." all will get you more that "You don't, you won't you never, and you always..." and anytime you say "we" it should be something you both can agree on, and something that is mutually beneficial!)

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answers from Salt Lake City on

talking about arguments generally causes arguments I have found. When he starts with his discussions just plainly say- Look I understand you really want to do this now but I am not so save it for later or give it up. Heated discussions if front of kids are not terrible every now and then but all the time is a little over whelming for them. We have all lost our cool in front of our kids and had to apologize for it later.

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answers from Austin on

I had a friend whose parents never argued in front of her. She was at a complete loss whenever she would feel the need to argue with her husband so she wouldn't bother. She figured that was the right thing to do since she never saw her mother argue with her father. Her husband ended up divorcing her thinking she was just too passive about everything =(

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answers from Washington DC on

I think kids are sponges. A baby doesn't know more than "mom and dad are upset". Whenever possible, save really heated conversations for a later time. It is also a good idea to not expose a child to something that's not appropriate well before you think it "matters" because every kid is different. Even if my daughter doesn't know what we're talking about, her dad and I refrain from discussions about his ex in front of her, continuing our "no kids rule" for those conversations. I don't want her knowing what she doesn't need to know or parroting what her brother and sister don't need to know.

If you and your spouse need help communicating, consider reading up on the topic or finding a counselor to help you with tools. Even something like "that was stupid" said about one parent by another in an ugly tone can be harmful to a child.

But overall, yes, I think you are right not to fight in front of the kid. I'm not saying that you can never disagree (otherwise she won't learn to resolve conflict) but if the conversation is more than who took the trash out or if it's ugly, take it elsewhere.

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answers from Chicago on

Yes we are the same is hard to control ourselves especially when we're passionate or upset by something. When you two have time you need to both agree to boundaries and timing of these discussions. It is not good for kids to see their parents argue...However, when our kids see us being human remember once it is over let her see mommy and daddy make up in front of her too :)

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answers from Las Vegas on

It is important to teach conflict resolution but if he can't keep his cool then y'all shouldn't fight in front of her. If he is one of those people who loses his cool and you have asked him to wait until your daughter is out of the room or sleeping and he yells louder I would get a bag of toys for the park and leave with her and tell him your not going to teach y'alls daughter about fighting nasty. Take your phone and tell him when he calms down and can talk about it without yelling or being heated to call you... tell him you love him, your not trying to abandon or dismiss his feelings, but you're leaving so that he can calm down so your daughter does not have to be around parents that yell at each other... it's not healthy.

There is a difference between arguments and yelling arguments, so if it is a healthy argument with no nasty name calling or comments or yelling then it is okay, but she should see yall make up (g rated lol) too.

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answers from Portland on

From your post, you husband might be very frustrated with putting conversations on hold-- likely, some are necessary conversations-- because the baby is present.

Everyone is different-- I don't think your opinions are wrong, and I think I get where you are coming from. I myself was extremely wary about arguing with my husband in front of my son, and this was also hard on our relationship.

A mentor suggested something to me around that time which has stuck with me: it's not just about the disagreement, it's about the resolution too. My husband and I sometimes get upset with each other, and our son sees this. He also sees us talk about our feelings in a genuine way, come up with ideas, teamwork solutions together and that those moments pass. We don't stay mad forever, and nothing is irreparably broken. He sees that his mom and dad have strong emotions, just like some he experiences too. He sees people move from conflict (which can potentially threaten a relationship) into resolution, and sees the relationship still intact.

When we sometimes get upset with our spouses, we are normalizing a range of emotions for our kids. Let's face it, we all get upset from time to time, we all experience anger, hurt, and frustration. If we never saw our parents get reasonably upset, we might have felt there was something bad about ourselves for experiencing those feelings. And so when our kids do get upset, if we've given them context for it, they know it's normal to have strong feelings from time to time, and that they can be worked through and resolved.

This is not a blanket statement, by the way. There are healthy and respectful ways of being angry and working through problems. Absolutely, we should be modeling "how" to move through conflict, and this means avoiding pettiness, namecalling, global language ("you always.... you never..."), throwing the kitchen sink at each other (unloading at them with the laundry list of all past wrongs), and of course, using physical violence.
However, when we use "I" statements to convey our frustration, when we state clearly what we are wanting, and try to keep things solution oriented, we do well to have some arguments in front of our kids.

How would they learn to problem-solve with their friends if they didn't see it from us?

If you and your husband can "fight fair", see if you could try getting a little more comfortable with it. If not, look into counseling, because then it's likely that this isn't the only thing you two don't agree on. Otherwise, this could help your husband feel a little more human around your daughter. Remember, she needs a human dad, not a perfect, never-arguing one. Or what's going to happen when she's old enough for him to argue with her?! It happens!:)


1 mom found this helpful


answers from Detroit on

While I feel that kids learn that everyone has disagreements and it's good for them to learn how to resolve them, that can be taught when they are more able to understand what's actually going on.

My ex used to pick fights with me in front of our daughter. She started to pick fights with me after awhile because that's what she learned. Until one day, I stated, in a firm, non-argumentitive voice, 'I will not do this in front of her. If you have a problem, we can call your sister to watch her and resolve this your way when she's not here.'

You 'caving' to everything will teach your daughter to back down from any confrontation. You don't want that either. When you cave, you don't have a voice.

She, now being nearly 8, understands that we all have disagreements and that when talked through properly, things can be resolved.

My husband (daughters stepdad) and I will have minor disagreements in front of her and her half brother... But there's never any voice raising, name calling, anger... If either of us feel like we're getting heated, we stop the conversation and continue it later when the kids are in bed. My husband and I were both raised with parents that fought in front of us or in earshot in the least. Neither of us like it. Both of us hated being at home during those times.

There's a time, place, and age for kids to know about squabbles... Now is not the right age for her to see you two in a heated discussion, arguement, fight... Whatever you want to call it.

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answers from Los Angeles on

Hey S.,
My parents had LOTS of heated arguments in front of me when I was a child. They would eventually take it to their room, but I could still hear everything because they yelled and screamed. Because of this most of my conflicts were heated arguments as well. I eventually got sick of my poor conflict resolution skills and took SEVERAL classes and got counseling to learn healthier ways of resolving conflict. I can happily say that 99% of my husband's and my conflicts are resolved quickly and with no heat. We are not afraid of having conflict in front of our son (unless it's on something that is not age appropriate) because we want for him to learn by our example. There is that expression "More is caught than taught" and in this instance, that is truly the case.



answers from Los Angeles on

My husband and I have this conversation all the time. Obviously, I think we shouldn't be yelling screaming, swearing, or insulting each other in front of our kids. It has to stay respectful. But have no problem having heated discussions or arguments in front of the kids, especially if we can get it resolved within a reasonable time. I think it's fine for kids to see that parents argue and work things out and still love eachother.
My husband hates arguing even slightly in front of the kids. He claims he never saw his parents argue. They were apparently the perfect, happy couple growing up. Well, fast forward to this year and we find out my FIL had an affair for years that my MIL never knew about, and my husband has a 1/2 sister he never knew. Now there is all this drama. It's difficult because everyone now realizes things weren't as perfect as they seemed.

I think it's better for kids to grow up with a realistic picture of marriage. That's just me.



answers from Harrisburg on

It's ok for your kids to see you argue, nobody is perfect, but heated fights/arguments should be reserved for when they are not around. What I have done when an argument is about to begin is walk away to another room. He usually follows, but then if my child follows too, while he is screaming or going on and on, I would respond calmer than him, or just ask questions as to what he means, who, when, why he feels the way he does, etc. then disucss my "heated" point when kids are in bed.



answers from Los Angeles on

Actually, according to NurtureShock, a book thyat distilles all the latest child development research, its how the argument ends that determines the positive/negative effect on a child. If an argument is resolved amicably and everyone makes up afterwards then children learn how to resolve disagreements. This is more positive then never seeing people fight and make up and thus never learning a valuable skill.



answers from Los Angeles on

I was going to say exactly what Shannon R. said... :0)



answers from San Diego on

The only advice i can give you is when you know an argument is about to start, ask your husband can we step outside or in another room, I grew up in a home where my parents always fought and argued, there was 5 of us, and we all five have scars, and insecurities in some form of another, their arguing made us fill unloved because what we were seeing and hearing was not love, it made us scared and very insecure. If your can't remove the argument remove your daughter. J.



answers from San Diego on

Hello, My husband and I would have been married 43 years in April 2010, however, he passed away in March of last year. We made a rule early on to not argue in front of the kids. It scares them and it doesn't usually involve them. It's just not fair to the kids to do this. My husband had lost his temper in the car one time early on and the kids were hysterical. Didn't happen again.
Good luck with your precious daughter.
K. K.



answers from Los Angeles on

Could it be that your husband is looking for some attention from you, and he's simply going about getting it by fighting and arguing with you? While having heating conversations or discussions in front of children is not necessarily a bad thing what is more important is that the child sees you resolve the problem with dignity and respect for each other. Children can learn effective problem solving skills when they are modeled. However, if the arguing is disrespectful and often goes unresolved what is she learning?

As a Certified Parent Coach and Positive Discipline Educator I would encourage your to have a respectful discussion about this with your husband when you are both calm and alone. (When is the last time you had a date?) Tell him how you are feeling by using I messages and what your concerns are about fighting in front of your daughter. Try to make an agreement about how you will handle these situations more respectfully in the future.

Hope this helps,



answers from Reno on

Disagreeing in front of her will actually show her how to respectfully disagree with someone. It will also show her that you won't always agree with people you love, and that that's OK. It should show her how to resolve conflicts in a healthy way. Even occasionally being irritated with each other in front of kids is fine. Serious or heated stuff, however, is private and should be handled in private.

It sounds as if what your husband really objects to is waiting. He wants to deal with things as they come up and as they're on his mind. If you think things are becoming too heated, say, "Can you come with me?" and YOU move things into another room. Don't wait for him to do it or for your daughter to leave - YOU take action.

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