Arguments involve a loss of control, so it makes sense that many parents lose track of how badly their fights affect their teenagers. You might assume that they understand things about the nature of adult arguments that they really do not.
When Teens Blame Themselves
It goes without saying that relationship problems can’t be worked out overnight. If you and your spouse are going through something, you should aim for progress, not perfection. However, while working on your relationship, take special care to devote energy to your teens as well. Parental tension can have a strong effect on teen self esteem. This is especially true if stress or disagreements over parenting are playing a role in your arguments.
Parents fighting can make teens:
- Question whether the fights are their fault.
- Think that perhaps if they behave perfectly, their parents will get along better.
- Believe that this sort of ongoing drama is normal for adult relationships.
All these things can cause teens to become preoccupied with your relationship rather than focusing on studies, activities, hobbies and having normal social lives. Everyone assumes that teenagers are selfish, but many of them are actually quite compassionate, often taking on the stresses and worries of their parents without ever mentioning it. Don’t assume that your teens aren’t paying attention to your fights. They might not feel comfortable bringing it up to you, but there’s no way they aren’t feeling the effects.
Talking to Your Teens About Awkward Subjects
The issues between you and your spouse might be personal. You don’t have to get into detail to have a discussion about this with your teens. Ask how their parents fighting affects them, and see what they have to say. They might express great discomfort or act like they aren’t bothered at all, but either way, this is a great time to let them know that the fights are not their fault or their problem. You can also let them know that you and your spouse and working on methods for getting through disagreements without a fight.
For more information on communication about family issues and improving teen self esteem, please contact me today.