My child saw my husband hit me. It is the last scene any mother wants her kids to witness. Every mom seeks a healthy environment for her children, however, sometimes things don’t go as perfectly as we planned. A mother might not always be able to protect her children from experiencing pain. Yet, she has to provide the needed help and support. We’re trying to help any mother who is having a hard time in her marriage and doesn’t want it to have a toxic effect on her kids.
We talked with Rana Hany, our certified Positive Discipline Educator from US Positive Discipline Association. “Home is the first and most influential environment in a child’s life. kids shape their minds and attitudes based on the way their parents treat them and how they deal with each other in front of them,” Hany explained “This doesn’t mean that parents should act like angelic beings in front of their children and pretend they don’t have conflicts. This is neither realistic nor beneficial for their psychological health.”
“It’s okay if parents sometimes argue in the presence of the kids as long as they show respect and set an example on solving problems in a healthy constructive way,” Hany continued. “If the parents had a tense fight in front of their kids, they should later explain to them that it was a temporary situation and show them that they love each other.”
Beware of repeatedly fighting in the presence of the kids as it stresses them out and makes them feel insecure. Children by time lose trust in their parents.
Crossing the red line
“If the kids were involved in a situation between the parents that included insult or hitting, a mother should pay attention to the message that was delivered to her kids,” Hany warned parents. This should not be ignored or taken lightly.
Here are some tips that a mother should follow to help her kids in a similar situation:
- Validate their feelings. Explain to them that you understand the fear and anger they’re experiencing. Listen to whatever they want to say even if they are repeatedly talking about the situation.
- Ask them about their opinions regarding what happened and encourage them to express whatever feelings they have to avoid burying negative feelings that would be reflected in their behaviors in the future.
- Explain to them that this is not a normal situation and what their father did is something wrong. Clarify that he was not able to control his anger and that is not acceptable. Never claim you’re responsible for his anger because this way you’re justifying violence.
- Assure them that you and their father love them and will always be there for them.
- If the fight was related to them – for example about their expenses – they might feel guilty. Clarify that the real reason is that you – the parents – were not able to discuss the problem in a healthy manner.
- If there is an expected change in your marital status – whether temporary separation or divorce- explain everything to them. Simply clarify – according to their age – that there are some relations that stay the same as with a father and a child relationship and others might take different directions like marriage and friendship.
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