Is it bad to argue in front of your kids? (Was: apologize to someone you’ve wronged.)

Is it bad to argue in front of your kids?

Benjamin Zander, the author of The Art of Possibility (My review: The book that changed my life the day I read it), has started a meme promoted by Miguel and Jeffrey Stedfast, to apologize to someone you’ve wronged.

My first instinct was to apologize to my kids for arguing in front of them. When we do that it really bothers me and I wonder how it affects them. However, according to NurtureShock by Po Bronson (recommended by Cathy Malmrose), while hearing parents argue stresses kids out, if they hear the end of the argument (and hopefully two happy parents) they go back to feeling normal stress levels. And they learn about conflict resolution. But if you “take the argument upstairs” and they don’t hear the resolution, they remain stressed.

So perhaps I should now have a discussion with Frank about how we argue in front of the kids. I sent them to their rooms and when that didn’t work Frank sent them to watch tv (which was a better distraction but still not enough.)

But if I let the kids watch an argument I have to answer all sorts of very difficult questions. I regularly get asked about why our old car couldn’t be fixed, why owls eat rabbits, why cars need gas, why we can’t have cookies for breakfast, why I wear contacts, why we have to wear clean clothes, why our dog will die one day … and explaining why we were arguing about whatever we were arguing about … well I just want to say “go to your room”! So perhaps the real apology I owe to my kids is for lazily not wanting to explain the argument to them.

But really, there are some subjects you’d rather not get asked why about too much …