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Published on Nov 29, 2022
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Juliya Smith

How Parents Fighting Could Affect a Child's Mental Health

Every couple has disagreements, which are healthy if they are peacefully resolved. In contrast, if these parents' fights escalate, they can have a nasty impact on their children.

Fighting when you do not have kids, and fighting when you are parents, are two entirely different scenarios. As couples become parents, they take on new roles and responsibilities. Fights in front of children can have adverse effects on the children on both psychological and emotional levels.

Children may feel like they are responsible for the conflict, or that they are not good enough. This can lead to low self-esteem, anxiety, and depression.

A child who sees his or her parents fighting is not a pleasant experience. It can negatively impact their psychological health.

So how parent fighting could affect a child’s mental health? Read this article thoroughly to learn more about it.

Why Parents Fighting is a Problem?


According to a study, a number of research studies have documented the detrimental effects of relational conflict on children, as well as parental hostility towards one another.

Due to the constant fighting and arguing, the home becomes a toxic space with negative energy. This energy often rubs on the children, who also start being aggressive and even physical.

The experience of parents fighting can negatively impact a child's social and emotional well-being, relationships, problem-solving skills, academic and career decisions, and overall life satisfaction.

Fighting between parents can negatively impact children's emotional well-being and cognitive health. It has been shown that children and adults can experience symptoms of anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, and high levels of stress. It is possible for these mental health disorders to worsen over time if little or no relief is obtained.

Related: Want to know about the best ways to support a child’s mental health? Check it out!

Long-term Mental Health Effects

It is well-known that witnessing violence in the home can have a profound effect on children. But what about the long-term psychological health effects of children who observe their parents fighting?

It is possible that children learn to cope with stress in negative ways when they see their parents fighting. Or, it could be that witnessing parental fighting has a traumatic effect on children that leads to long-term mental and physical health problems.

Further research has shown that parental fighting can also negatively affect their children's mental health, including

1. Increased Relationship Problems

Parental fighting can have a negative effect on a child's relationship with others. They may have difficulty trusting others, feel insecure in their own relationships, or even become violent themselves.

As a result of being exposed to fighting between parents, kids are more likely to treat others with aggression.

2. Decreased Cognitive Performance

Mild to moderate conflict has a negative impact on cognitive performance in children. Children who witness their parents fighting are more likely to have lower grades and score lower on standardized tests. Additionally, it was discovered that when parents fought frequently, kids had more difficulty regulating their attention and emotions.

3. Higher Rates of Behavior Problems


Parental fighting has long been known to be detrimental to children's well-being. Parental fighting is also associated with a higher rate of behavioral problems in children.

The study, which was conducted by researchers at the University of Michigan, looked at data from more than two thousand families with children between the ages of three and six. The families were asked about their parenting styles, the amount of conflict they experienced, and the frequency of their disagreements. The researchers then looked at the children's psychological problems, as reported by their parents.

The findings showed that parental fighting was linked to a higher rate of behavior problems in children. The researchers found that the more conflict the parents had, the more likely the children were to have behavior problems. This was especially true for families who had a lot of verbal arguments and disagreements.

4. Increased Risk of Eating Disorders

It has long been established that parental fighting can have negative effects on children. Parental fighting can actually increase the risk of developing eating disorders in children.

It has been found that eating disorders, such as anorexia and bulimia, are related to high levels of marital conflict.

5. Higher Rates of Adolescent Substance Abuse

Parental fighting can serve as a model for the problem behavior of a child. When children see their parents fighting, they may learn that this is an acceptable way to deal with conflict. This can lead them to believe that using drugs or alcohol is an acceptable way to deal with their own problems and toxic parents.

Parental arguments or conflict can also lead to feelings of insecurity and isolation in children. They may feel that they are not loved or that they are to blame for the fighting. This can lead them to turn to drugs or alcohol as a way to cope with their feelings.

Higher Risk of Academic Problems

It has long been known that children who grow up in homes where there is a lot of parental fighting are at a higher risk for academic problems. This is because the fighting creates an environment of family stress and chaos that makes it difficult for children to focus on their studies. Additionally, parental fighting can lead to children feeling insecure and unsupported, both of which can adversely affect their academic performance.

When Fighting Becomes Problematic

Children thrive on stability and routine. When their parents are fighting, it can disrupt their entire world. This can lead to a host of problems, both in the short term and long term.

In the short term, children may experience an anxiety disorder, sleep problems, and behavioral issues. They may also have difficulty concentrating at school.

In the long term, children of parents who fight often have lower self-esteem and are more likely to have relationship problems of their own.

Disruptive conflicts between a father and mother are the main causes of changing behavior in children. The following conflicts harm children in such a way that the damage done is irreversible.

  • Verbal aggression (insults, name-calling, etc.)
  • Silent tactics (walking out, avoidance, sulking, withdrawing, etc.)
  • Abandonment threads (divorce)
  • Physical aggression (hitting, slapping, pushing, etc.)
  • Capitulation(surrendering to false solutions)

Neutralize the Effect of Parents Fighting

Seeing my own parents' conflict is a heartbreaking experience. However, how parents handle this conflict can determine whether or not their children are negatively impacted. When parents fight, children can feel insecure, anxious, and even scared. But there are things that parents can do to minimize the effect of their fighting on their children.

Here are a few tips for parents on how to neutralize the effect of their fighting:

  • Don't argue in front of your children. If you must fight, do it in private.
  • Avoid using harsh words or name-calling.
  • Try to resolve marital conflict in a calm and rational manner.
  • Explain to your children that parents sometimes fight, but that it doesn't mean they don't love each other.
  • Reassure your children that they are not responsible for the fighting and that you will still love them no matter what.

Avoiding Conflict is Not a Solution

There is no denying that conflict is unpleasant. It can be frustrating, exhausting, and even scary. But avoiding conflict is not a solution. In fact, it can often make things worse.

If you're in a situation where you're feeling conflict, the best thing to do is to face it head-on. Address the issue head-on, and try to come to a resolution. It may not be easy, but it's often the best way to handle conflict.

Parents, who often have conflicts, should keep in mind that children are not adults and they cannot be expected to understand complex issues. This could lead to adverse effects on the child’s mind.

When parents avoid conflict, it can give children the message that conflict is bad and that it should be avoided at all costs. This can lead to children growing up with a fear of conflict and an inability to resolve disagreements in a healthy way. It is important for parents to model healthy conflict resolution for their children so that they can learn how to do it themselves.

So, while it is understandable that parents would want to avoid conflict in front of their children, it is not always the best solution for children's sake.

How to Make Conflict Work?

While conflict is often seen as negative, it can actually be a positive force in the lives of children. It can help them learn to manage their emotions and understand and respect the perspectives of others.

Of course, not all conflict is constructive, and it’s important for parents to know how to distinguish between the two. They also need to know how to manage conflict in a way that is helpful for their children.

Open communication: This is perhaps the most important solution, as it can help prevent misunderstandings and provide a mechanism for solving disagreements.

Mutual respect: Parents need to respect each other's wishes and parenting styles in order to avoid conflict.

Flexibility: Parents need to be flexible and willing to compromise each other views in order to avoid conflict.

Model respectful conflict resolution: Show your children how to resolve conflicts in a respectful and calm manner.

Are Kids Better Off in Two-Parent Families?

There is a lot of debate about whether or not kids are better off in two-parent families. Some people believe that kids need both a mother and a father figure in their lives, while others believe that it doesn't matter as long as the child has loving parents.

There is no easy answer to this question. Every child is different, and every family is different. There are pros and cons to both two-parent families and single-parent families. Ultimately, the best thing for a child is to have loving parents who can provide a stable, supportive home environment.

Parents prefer to get divorced for the betterment of the child. A child's psychological well-being can be affected when they start living separately. In addition, the economic situation of a single-parent family may be difficult, and the children may perform poorly, as opposed to the situation of a family with two parents.

Risky family environments are just as stressful. Staying together for the kids might not benefit your children if you're in a high-conflict marital relationship. To ensure that your kids grow up happy and healthy, you need to reduce conflict or make changes to your relationship and apply better solutions for a better future.


Children are incredibly resilient, but that doesn't mean they're immune to the impact of parental conflict. When parents argue, children can feel scared, confused, and even responsible for the situation. These feelings can lead to problems in school, anxiety, and depression.

It's important to remember that children are not responsible for their parent's conflict. They did not cause the problem and they cannot fix it. But that doesn't mean the impact of parental conflict on children is nothing to worry about.

Thus, it is important for parents to try to resolve their disagreements in a constructive and positive way and build a healthy parent-child relationship.

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