Moms & Dads out there: don’t be afraid to let your kids see and hear how you handle grown-up problems. They learn from watching how you do it.
Not that you need to go round up the kids and sit them down and say, “Okay, kids, time to watch Mommy and Daddy fight about money….”
Nope. Kids don’t need that. But particularly if you and your spouse respect one another and use Christian approaches to dispute resolution, even if not entirely perfectly 100% of the time … your kids do benefit from seeing and hearing you do that more than they would if they don’t ever see or hear their parents having those tough conversations.
They learn some deeper things too, like that it’s not the end of the world or the end of a good relationship or the end of a family if two people disagree about something they both care about. Kids learn ideas for how to handle those tough situations when they come up in their own lives by watching how Mom and Dad handle it.
I used to work at my State’s residential School for the Deaf, which was conceived as an immersion environment for ASL (American Sign Language). Everybody had to communicate in ASL all the time, anywhere on campus, even if it was 2 Hearing people standing alone in the parking lot talking about trimming a tree: ASL Only. Why? Because (it was explained to me) all the “incidental” learning that occurs when Hearing children overhear adult conversations is lost if the Hearing adults on campus communicate verbally in front of Deaf children who can’t read lips. That is a HUGE loss that seriously interferes with the process of growing up and becoming independent adults for Deaf children. The fix is to surround them with people of all ages and purposes and roles and areas of expertise who ALL communicate in a language the kids can understand, even – or perhaps especially – when the conversation isn’t specifically “with” or “about” or “relevant to” the child in question. That “incidental” learning does matter.
Christian kids need this too — they need to see and hear adult models talking about all kinds of difficult issues, even when they’re just playing in the next room and only partly “listening in.”
They’re learning way more than you think.