A fair warning to all good parents on the effect of your disagreements with your spouse in front of the children….
by Mary Reed Newland, How to Raise Good Catholic Children
Material insecurity is only one of the insecurities. The others are far more subtle.
There are terrible emotional insecurities stirred up in children who see their parents habitually disagree. This is no news, nor that great damage is done to a child’s character when he discovers that he may take advantage of parental differences and play one parent against the other.
This is bad enough, but when it is through his parents that a child must learn about God, and from them see the example of Christlikeness, think of the damage done to faith in both his parents and God with his parents’ continual contradiction of all that is Christlike in their daily behavior.
It’s better to submit a thousand times to losing an argument than let children see a parent fail to exhibit the patience and consideration he’s trying to teach.
Public confession of faults by parents is more likely to embarrass a child than edify him, but it’s another thing to learn to apologize graciously for a bad temper, a too-severe scolding, or just plain grouchiness.
Children are not easily fooled, and they see as clearly as anyone the weaknesses in their parents. It helps them to see also that parents consider temper or cross words from themselves the same imperfection they would correct in their children.
Attacking a child’s confidence in his parents (by either of them, or others) is very dangerous business.
In their early years, children are not at all ready to believe the worst of their parents, even when they see it. Their loyalty is tenacious, and woe to the complainant who would satisfy a grudge by betraying a parent to his children.
More often than not, the complainant will suffer by comparison with the silent defendant.
A child from a broken home, listening to her mother berate a neglectful father, used to say to the father, “Don’t answer her back. It doesn’t do any good.”
Simply in the process of growing day by day a little less dependent upon his parents, a child will begin to judge for himself. Then he’s able to see loyalty of mother to father, father to mother, and it helps him develop an understanding of that subtle thing called family unity.
With the slow decay of family unity, there’s apt to be a total casting out of all a child has learned in the bosom of the family.
Not only the obvious things, such as respect, consideration, and self-sacrifice, but ultimately perhaps even faith in God, and no one will argue that this is not the greatest scandal of all.
Your job is to help them reach this state of full and complete independence in a gradual fashion. And your success as a mother will depend to a great extent upon the amount of emancipation you permit them as they step progressively toward adulthood. Therefore you should try to judge realistically when your children truly need your help and when they do not. -Fr. George Kelly, 1950’s https://amzn.to/2NXlMld
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