Personal preferences reign high when discussing fighting in front of children. Some people found it difficult when they knew that their parents were fighting, but would not allow the kids to even hear what was being said. Other people found it hard to listen to all of the yelling, and wished that their parents would act like adults and keep the fight only between them. Which is the best approach?
Detriments of both sides. When making your children stay upstairs or out of hearing, it can cause your kids to worry even more. They imagine what the fight could possibly be about, and if the word “divorce” was ever thrown around, they wonder if mommy and daddy will split up. Concentrating your efforts on making sure the kids do not hear and maintaining a heavy silence when they are around can make things much worse. Remember, you are working things out with your spouse, not taking your frustration out on your kids.
On the other end of the spectrum, if you fight in front of your children constantly, it can create large amounts of tension in the air, get them involved, make them think that small issues ARE worth fighting over, and it sets a pretty poor example of how to keep peace in your home. Also, your kids need to be able to bring their friends over, and if they cannot be completely sure that violence and fighting will not abound, their social lives will suffer.
Is there a better way? The truth is your children need to see that adults can, in fact, behave as adults when necessary. This includes every time that you fight or disagree. Sitting in the car and talking it over, going on a spontaneous, late-night date, or discussing it during a couple’s shower in the morning are adult methods of resolving disagreements. This way, your kids are not actively “banned” from the fight scene, and they may not even know what is going on.
Also, your children need to see that, when fighting, adults do not throw tantrums, raise their voices or resort to verbal abuse or physical violence. In this manner, you must work on any personal bad habits you have developed and keep your tone and behavior steady, even when your spouse is not. This will keep the entire argument at a much lower pitch and keep the conversation moving in productive circles, rather than disintegrating into childish vengeance.
Lastly, remember your own example. More than teaching, more than words, more than societal influence, your example will be the default modus operandi of your children when they encounter similar situations later on in life. They know your hypocrisy, they know your weakness, and your teaching will carry far less weight the more you act against your own word.