web analytics
April 27, 2015 / 8 Iyar, 5775
At a Glance
Sections
Sponsored Post


How Fighting Harms Children

Schonbuch-Rabbi-Daniel

When parents come to talk to me about a troubled child or teenager, I often find it helpful to explore whether or not their marriage is causing their teenager to be at risk.

It’s no coincidence that difficult marriages create difficult children.  Children want their parents to be happy, and they want their parents to be together. When things are going wrong in the parents’ relationship, children are often the first to sense that Mommy and Daddy are not getting along.  Even if parents say that they are only arguing behind closed doors, children can still sense that something may not be right.

The parents’ relationship may be one of the most important factors influencing a teenager’s behavior.  How parents learn to manage conflicts between themselves can make a difference in their teenagers’ lives.  Unresolved conflict has a tremendous negative impact. It directly affects the two parents involved, as they carry out their normal duties. And when parents become preoccupied with their own marital discord, teenagers can feel rejected, depressed and isolated from their parents.

Marital conflict affects teenagers in various ways. First, conflict between the parents tends to both change the mood of household interactions and shift the parents’ attention to any negative behavior their children are displaying.  Second, parental conflict leads to parents issuing confusing and threatening commands to their children.  Third, children who are exposed to harsh discipline practices at home (which tend to coincide with a negative and hostile relationship between the parents) are more at risk for aggression, internalizing by withdrawing, and depressive symptoms.

In addition, I have found that when teenagers are exposed to high levels of conflict between their parents, they don’t get used to it. They become more sensitive and reactive to it, which causes many of the symptoms of at-risk behavior. Even moderate amounts of parental conflict can wreak havoc on the lives of children, disrupting their sleep and causing negative feelings in their day-to-day lives.

In many instances, parents are unaware that they might be using their children to channel the anger they feel toward their spouse. This phenomenon, called “triangling,” is a very dangerous pattern of behavior that can have serious implications for children and teenagers.

Here is how triangling works.  Suppose a wife is angry at her husband for not being affectionate toward her.  If she is unable to express her feelings to her husband in a direct way, she may unwittingly begin to use her children to communicate to her husband her feelings of displeasure and anger.  For example, she may turn to her daughter in front of her husband and say, “Oh, Daddy seems very tense today and I guess he has no time for the family.” In this case, the parent is unable to negotiate her own needs and inappropriately begins to involve her child in a private marital issue.

The child who is caught in a triangle like this has become an inappropriate conduit for the expression of the mother’s anger towards her husband.  When this happens, children can develop feelings of disillusionment, fear, insecurity and vulnerability. They also may feel that they have to take sides because they can’t manage the internal tension and the anxiety by themselves.  In these cases, they may see one parent as mostly bad and the other parent as mostly good. This is damaging to children because it reinforces an attitude by which they view the world in a “black and white,” or an “all or nothing” way, rather than with a more balanced view of good and bad in most people.

 

Here are some of the signs that you are engaged in triangling:

  • Do you want your child to talk to or do something to your spouse?
  • Do you talk about your spouse to your child only in terms of the other’s negative qualities?
  • Do you or your wife blame your children for your problems?
  • Do your children tell you that they feel anxious around your spouse?
  • Do you think your child can bring peace between members of your family?

About the Author: Rabbi Daniel Schonbuch, MA, LMFT is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. He is an expert in marriage counseling, pre-marital education, treating Anxiety and Depression, and helping teens in crisis with offices in Brooklyn. To watch his free videos on marriage and parenting and for appointments visit: www.JewishMarriageSupport.com, email rabbischonbuch@yahoo.com or call 646-428-4723.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “How Fighting Harms Children”

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
This is what is left of the bus that was firebombed Saturday night.
Shhhhhhh! Police Now Say Bus was Firebombed Saturday Night
Latest Sections Stories
Food-Talk---Eller-logo

“People who never buy cookbooks are getting this one,” said Victoria. “They read it cover to cover and find it so interesting.”

South-Florida-logo

We have recently witnessed how other minorities deal with even perceived danger aimed at their brothers and sisters. They respond in great numbers.

South-Florida-logo

The Hebrew Academy students took part in all categories and used successful and innovative techniques to achieve their goals.

“The objective behind establishing small communities as places for relocation was a remedy for the excessive cost of housing and education in the large New York metropolitan market,” Mr. Savitsky explained.

Jewish Democrats did not entirely trust the son of Joseph Kennedy, a man broadly considered to be both anti-Semitic and pro-Nazi.

The teenage years are not about surviving. They are about thriving.

Every moment was a gift. I held each one, savoring.

We arrived in Auschwitz on Thursday, January 30, 2014. My seminary was taking us to see where the prisoners were kept. When we got there, I stepped off the bus in complete and total silence. I was in the back, and when we got to the gate I hesitated and started shaking uncontrollably. I couldn’t […]

From the moment Israel was declared a Jewish state, it has been the subject of controversy and struggle.

Now that Pesach is over, we return you to your regularly-scheduled pressing questions:   Dear Mordechai, Can I use a nose hair trimmer during Sefirah? Harry Lipman   Dear Harry, Yes, as long as your nose hairs are so bad that they’re affecting your job. Like if you have a desk job, and they interfere […]

It is very natural for kids to want attention and to be jealous of each other, especially when there is a new baby.

During the Second World War, a million and a half Jewish soldiers fought in the Allied armies, the Partisan units in Eastern Europe, and the anti-fascist underground movements in Western Europe and North Africa. These Jewish fighters won over 200,000 medals and citations. The Museum of the Jewish Soldier in World War II in Latrun, […]

The 2-day real estate event will take place in Brooklyn on April 26 and 27.

More Articles from Rabbi Daniel Schonbuch
Schonbuch-Rabbi-Daniel

A compulsion is a repetitive action. But what underlies the compulsion is an obsession or fear.

Schonbuch-Rabbi-Daniel

Teens-at-risk feel alienated from their parents and often believe that no one is interested in hearing about their problems.

Separation anxiety disorder is a condition in which a child becomes fearful and nervous when away from home or separated from a loved one – usually a parent or other caregiver – to whom the child is attached.

I try to focus on the parents in a way that is not often addressed. As soon as the child gets anxious, the parent gets anxious;

Most people are not aware that anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the United States, affecting 40 million adults age 18 and older (18% of U.S. population).

Parental conflict affects children in varying ways, depending on their age. For example, teenagers around the age of fifteen or sixteen are most likely to involve themselves in their parents’ battles. Younger children may keep their feelings hidden inside and may only show signs of depression in late childhood or early adolescence.

When parents come to talk to me about a troubled child or teenager, I often find it helpful to explore whether or not their marriage is causing their teenager to be at risk.

Active listening is only one part of the marriage equation; learning what to say and what not to say is the other half. And, it’s not just about expressing your feelings, but doing it in a way that avoids hurting the other person.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/family/marriage-relationships/how-fighting-harms-children/2013/08/30/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: