Parental Conflict / Familial Disagreement Might Grow Psychological Effect Over Your Children

Parental Conflict / Familial Disagreement Might Grow Psychological Effect Over

The reality of caring for a baby can be overwhelming. When your household grows from two to three, your relationship with your partner is bound to change.Being a new parent is wonderful, but there are times when it can be really difficult, too. This can generate feelings of guilt for a mom or dad who isn't enjoying every second of being a new parent. It can certainly be stressful. So it's important to remember that it's OK to want — and to take — a break from the baby every once in a while.


Even without all the outside parenting advice, you and your partner may realize you have different approaches to parenting — one of you may be more inclined to pick up the baby whenever he or she cries while the other lets your little one cry for a while, for instance. And trouble spots in a relationship, such as who does more work around the house, can get worse if new parents don't sit down and talk about what's bothering them.

Healthy self-esteem is a child's armor against the challenges of the world. Kids who feel good about themselves seem to have an easier time handling conflicts and resisting negative pressures. They tend to smile more readily and enjoy life. These kids are realistic and generally optimistic.

In contrast, for children who have low self-esteem, challenges can become sources of major anxiety and frustration. Children who think poorly of themselves have a hard time finding solutions to problems. If they are plagued by self-critical thoughts, such as "I'm no good" or "I can't do anything right," they may become passive, withdrawn, or depressed. Faced with a new challenge, their immediate response is "I can't." Read on to discover the important role you can play in promoting healthy self-esteem in your child.

Couples who find themselves in constant conflict may be unable to give their young children the emotional support they need, a new study suggests.

Among the consequences for children, researchers found, are anxiety, withdrawal and problems at school.

Many studies have shown that parental conflict can be psychologically damaging to children. But the new findings point more precisely to how the damage can occur -- and show that it's not only angry, hostile exchanges that harm families.

Indeed, the study found, parents who dealt with differences by giving each other the "silent treatment" or some other icy, if not openly hostile, attitude were more likely than other parents to become emotionally withdrawn from their young children.

This in turn affected their children's psychological well-being and adjustment at school, the study authors report in the journal Child Development.

"A lot of parents may feel that it's better to just not fight at all and may sweep problems under the rug," noted lead author Dr. Melissa Sturge-Apple of the University of Rochester in New York.

"However," she told Reuters Health, "this kind of withdrawal and disengagement may have negative repercussions for parenting and for children."

The findings are based on a three-year study of 212 families with a child who was 6 years old at the outset. At the start of the study, the researchers observed couples as they discussed a "problem" issue within their marriage. They rated the couples' interactions -- whether they were hostile or withdrawn, for example -- and asked them how closely the discussion reflected a typical one at home.

Parents were also observed while playing and interacting with their children, both at the start of the study and again one year later. Parents and teachers also completed questionnaires on the children's psychological well-being during the second and third year of the study.

Overall, the researchers found, mothers who were in a hostile or emotionally withdrawn relationship were less likely than other mothers to have warm, loving interactions with their children. The same was true of fathers who were in an emotionally withdrawn marriage.

Among the consequences for their children was trouble adjusting at school -- including problems getting along with their classmates and difficulty with school work.

Interestingly, Sturge-Apple noted, fathers' "emotional unavailability" seemed to have particularly broad effects on their children -- being related not only to poorer school adjustment, but also to higher anxiety levels and greater behavioral problems.

Why this may be the case is unclear, according to the researchers.

"I think one of the main take-home messages from the study is that different kinds of conflict can have distinct meanings for the family system and for children," Sturge-Apple said.

Parents, according to the researcher, should be aware that the various ways in which they argue -- not just in anger, but also in cold, withdrawn ways -- can have important effects on their children.

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