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How you and your spouse handle conflict affects your children

Parents are the biggest influencers in a child's life. Children learn from their parents' behavior and often become reflections of it in one way or another.

Parental conflict can be a driving factor in a young person's growth. However, it is not the conflict itself that can be so influential, but rather the way you and your spouse -- or ex-spouse -- choose to handle it.

A recent article in Psychology Today explored the effects that parental conflict and disagreement can have on a child. The author suggests that whether or not your child ends up mimicking your behavior, your behavior will likely influence your child's concept of conflict in relationships.

For example, if you and your ex fight in such a way that one person has to be right and have the last word, your child may take up that style of handling conflict as well. Another outcome, however, could be that your child will strive to avoid conflict altogether because he or she did not like how it affected you and your ex's marriage.

Conflict, however, is not bad for a relationship. To show your child that conflict is acceptable and a natural part of any partnership, it may be beneficial to consider which arguments you have in front of your child and how you handle them when your child is present. By listening to each other and finding compromise, your child may learn that conflict is not something to be feared. In fact, it can lead to a better relationship.

Of course, if you have gone through a divorce recently or are in the process of divorcing, conflict is likely to occur. As you determine how best to guide your children through the process, it may be helpful to think about the way you and your ex interact with each other in front of them. 

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