A perfect marriage with a perfect partner and happy family is like a dream. The reality and responsibilities that come with marriage often blow away all romance. When responsibilities are shared their has to be love, respect and understanding between the two partners. It is natural to have difference of opinions between two people, but the test of marriage lies in how the partners handle these differences. Patient hearing and communication with the aim of solving the problem helps maintain friendly relations. But sometimes partners argue to the extent of loud verbal fights, name calling, insulting each other and sometimes getting physically violent too! Such marital discord causes tension in the family and who are the worst sufferers? The Children! Parents’ fights affect the children badly not only during their tender years but it affects their future personality too.
Fear and insecurity
The first and foremost reaction is that of fear in the child. Father and mother both are equally important for the children. They love both and look up for support from both. When parents fight and the children sense the anger and dislike of parents for each other, it confuses them. They know their parents as a team, as parents and not as two different individuals. When these two, whom kids feel to be one, argue and fight with each other, it is difficult for the children. Young kids get frightened. If the fights are frequent the child soon realizes that mother and father are different. He grapples with himself to decide who is right and should he support or like more. The fights create an unhappy atmosphere in the house and it may linger for long if the fighting parents sulk and stop talking to each other. Even when things return to normal, the child constantly lives in the fear of another fight coming up any time. Slightest hint of an argument makes the child tense, expecting another ugly fight between parents, both of whom he loves equally.
The constant fear and tension of another fight breaking out between parents causes many physical and psychological problems in the children. They may loose appetite and become weak, loose confidence in them self, lack concentration in studies and other activities, fall prey to depression and diseases due to low immunity.
As the children grow and start understanding relationships, a feeling of insecurity grows in them. The fear of loosing one parent grips them. Sometimes they may also feel guilty that they may be cause of the fights, if parents fight due to financial burden and stress. A sensitive child may feel that the parents are stressed because they have to pay for his studies, food etc.
Escape and rebel
Teen aged children of parents who fight often may either become loners withdrawing into themselves, or they may become rebels. Both parents love the children and the children understand this. But they are painfully stuck in the difficult situation of trying to calm down both parents separately or wiping their tears and trying to make things normal again. All this takes a toll on their own mental health and they search for ways to escape from the emotionally draining atmosphere of the home.
Children may leave home to study or work in a different place to escape the unhappy, tensed atmosphere at home. They try to seek refuge in any relationship they get into, with the desire to feel loved and share their trauma. Such relationships are mostly short lived, with the chances of being easily cheated too. As these children grow into adults they either take to multiple partners in search of the perfect one or develop fear, doubt or disgust for the institution of marriage and relationships.
The rebels may shout back at parents and adopt a lifestyle of their own immature likings, with total disregard for their parents’ wishes. Drugs, alcohol, wild parties become their companions.
Whether loner or a rebel, in both cases the child actually is confused and hurt and trying to find the meaning of different relationships. When such children marry, they find it difficult to adapt or adapt slowly due to the inherent fear.
Children are sensitive
Parents may feel that children below six are too young to feel anything. But it is not so! Even the little ones feel bad and get scared when they see their parents angry. Even if parents do not fight openly but remain silent and sulking, children sense the tension between the two. So even occasional fights effect the children negatively. Even children who have become adults and have settled in their own profession and family feel sad and depressed when they see their parents quarrelling. The settled, grown up children have the ability to express their anger and dislike because they have the psychological strength of being independent, but younger children cannot express their feelings and fears.
Mother and father are not two different individuals for the children. They are the common base of the family and with the child they form a single team. If any member of the team argues, insults and fights, all other members and the team as a whole are affected. Mother and father cannot love the children differently. The family should have common values, aspirations and goals to stay together happily.