Dear Mr. Dad: My wife and I have a good marriage, but once in a while we get into a yelling match that makes me glad we don’t live in an apartment! There’s never any physical contact, neither of us misses the chance to slam a door or kick the furniture to make a point. We know we’re just venting and we always make up just fine afterwards, but it’s the kids I worry about. Is it doing them any harm to see their parents fight? If so, how can we break the habit?
A: The short answer is, yes, living in a high-conflict home may be doing some short- or long-term damage to your children. According to a recent joint study by the Universities of Rochester and Notre Dame, children who see their parents in angry conflict on a regular basis are more likely to feel negative emotions and stress and to develop long-lasting, negative impressions of marriage and family life. Rather than becoming accustomed to the hostility, children actually become more sensitive to it and less resilient as time goes by.