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Thread: Should children be sheltered?

  1. #1
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    Should children be sheltered?

    No couple is without friction. Arguments, discussions heated or not are part of the healing process. But, for you, as a parent or as a child, how much was or is too much? How did your parents handle it? Did they shield you from it? How 'bout you as a parent? Do you go out of your way to not let your kids see and hear the worst of it? Does your partner see it the same way? Do you believe that the way you were brought up has had an effect on how you see this issue? What effect does their parents' arguing have on kids?

    *asking for a friend. No, ha, I really am. My wife and I wore each other out years ago.

  2. #2
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    Large subject.

    As it happens, I grew up in an environment in which many things were hidden from me and my brother, including some pretty serious issues I only learned about decades later. I have mixed feelings on the matter, not only as a former child, but also as a parent. Our children have complained, on occasion, of not being told what is going on. I suppose the apple could have fallen further from the tree on that score-but often we had good reasons for holding back information. (Generally with the intention of subsequent revelation.)

    Part of raising children is cluing them in to what is really going on. The question of what is the proper time and place for any given lesson, however, is one that seems to have no ideal answer. As in much else in parenting, the best preparation is simply to have good instincts.

    A non-answer to one of the biggest imponderables of parenting.

    I'll say this, however. The human reproductive biology Talk (Talks, actually) sure worked more smoothly when handled age-appropriately BEFORE our children's endocrine system started pumping them with all those mood-altering hormones, as opposed to the too-little, too-late that was the norm when I was growing up!
    Last edited by dickson; 04-14-2017 at 09:54 AM. Reason: To add a belated thought

  3. #3
    Swan in Process Siri Kirpal's Avatar
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    Sat Nam! (literally "Truth Name"--a Sikh greeting)

    Unless your kids have poor healing, if you have loud voices, they will hear. Factor that in.

    I was raised hearing how my folks argued. I learned that they would take each other aside and point out what their problem was with whatever. That part was good and contributed to the fact that my husband and I have navigated our relationship as well as we have.

    The part that wasn't so good was that my Dad often complained of me to my Mom loud enough for me to hear but behind my back. Mom would then shush him and I wouldn't find out what his real problem was. I did not have a happy relationship with my Dad.

    From this: argue fairly. If you have issues with anyone, bring it to that person directly, not behind their back. Argue with your spouse as neutrally as you can, and let your kids understand that's how it works.

    Blessings,

    Siri Kirpal
    "The only freedom any of us ever has is the freedom to choose how we will not be free."

  4. #4
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    Thanks, dickson and Siri. I think one of the issues here is emotion. Arguments are emotional, plans on how to handle disagreements between spouses are logical. So, it seems like you can make a decision with your spouse to not argue in front of the kids, but once the heat rises they can easily be forgotten.

    Another issue to me is how we were raised, whether our parents shielded us from the worst of it, or just let it fly. What you said, Siri, about your parents taking each other aside and pointing out what their problems were is the sensible, logical, considerate thing to do. And, I don't have too much information to work with here, because mostly all I know is what I saw/heard as a kid, (ha, through three marriages I should say) how my wife and I handle these situations, and the little I've been told as far as how friends and family handle these situations--but I would venture a guess that most couples don't conduct themselves with such maturity. I will say that my wife and I have gotten a lot better over the years. Well, funny thing is, we had a long honeymoon phase, where we didn't argue at all. Then we hit a bad patch and couldn't carry on a conversation about nearly anything without arguing. Now, we rarely argue, and when we do, I tell the kids that their mother and I need to talk. So stay in your rooms for a while, and for God's sake, turn the music up!

    I have an idea that's really no more than a hunch that we will often go against what we saw as kids. If our parents kept things hidden, if they rarely argued and if when they did they were not of the knockdown dragout variety, when we become parents ourselves we might feel that it isn't necessary to keep our arguments from them. But for a parent who grew up with their parents tearing each other apart right before their very eyes and ears, maybe they remember, actually can still feel, how they were affected by that, and so might go out of their way to never do that to their kids.

  5. #5
    Swan in Process Siri Kirpal's Avatar
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    Sat Nam! (Literally "Truth Name"--a Sikh greeting)

    That sounds okay. It's hearing part, but not all, that can cause problems. So, I'd say your strategy sounds workable.

    And no, watching parents tear each other to pieces doesn't sound healthy.

    So, how are your kids? If they seem reasonably happy and healthy, I wouldn't worry about it.

    Blessings,

    Siri Kirpal
    "The only freedom any of us ever has is the freedom to choose how we will not be free."

  6. #6
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    No, the truth is, ha, as I said in the OP, this is really about a situation a very close friend of mine is in at the time. He was brought up as I was, in a domestic warzone. And so, he is very sensitive to how something like that plays to his kids. His wife, on the other hand, grew up in something resembling a 1960 sitcom, and so doesn't have the same motivation to keep their beefs on the downlow. It's very difficult to have an agreement with someone who just doesn't agree--and not only that, is very adept at escalation (one would almost think that knowing how reluctant he is to fight in front of the kids, she takes advantage)

    I'm all for honesty with kids, but seriously, they are on a need-to-know basis. No, life is not all roses, but let's let them have a little magic while they're still kids. Plenty of time for stark reality later.

  7. #7
    Have pen, will travel Cindyt's Avatar
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    I was raised by a paranoid schizophrenic and a moody playboy. They were both mean drunks. Use your imagination on the lack of sheltering. I could tell some tales, and do in my autobiography.
    Last edited by Cindyt; 04-14-2017 at 11:36 PM.
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  8. #8
    I aim to misbehave Myrealana's Avatar
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    My parents seldom argued in front of me or my brother.

    There was, however, a point, probably about 20 years ago when they were going through a rough patch. I was in my 20s and my brother was in his late teens. Instead of arguing with each other, they would complain separately to us. My brother and I put a decisive halt to that when we both just started leaving the room if one of them started in. (They worked it out. They'll be celebrating their 48th anniversary this summer.)
    -- Myrea
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  9. #9
    I teach my children that it's okay to be mad (it's not healthy to suppress emotions, even the not-happy ones), but it's not okay to hurt people because you're mad (whether physically or verbally). No hitting, no screaming or yelling, no saying mean things. Use your words, and if your words aren't working, get help. If you can't stay calm, then take some time to calm down first.

    The same rules apply to when I'm arguing with their dad. We keep it civil and respectful. We've both been varying degrees of upset with each other, especially recently, but I have never seen him lose his temper, and I walk away if I think I might.

    There's no hard and fast rule for us about hiding arguments from the kids. Most arguments we've had out in the open. Some late at night after the kids are asleep so they won't interrupt us. For us, having a rule about how to argue is more important than where​ to argue.

    I think my parents did have a rule about not arguing in front of the kids (because of their turbulent upbringings, likelier than not), but it really didn't matter since my mom believed in wifely submission and therefore used us kids as a dumping ground for all her drama instead of working it out with her husband like an actual adult.

  10. #10
    Swan in Process Siri Kirpal's Avatar
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    Sat Nam! (Literally "Truth Name"--a Sikh greeting)

    Ah! My apologies, I glossed over the coda.

    Asking advice for friends who aren't on the same page is tricky, because, well, they're not on the same page. I'm all for people working out their differences without outside help if they can (I've known few counselors who were good at relationships themselves, and one who actively worked to destroy marriages), but this is a case where outside help might work. What you could say to them might carry weight for one of them, but not the other. (They do sound like that sort of couple.)

    Blessings,

    Siri Kirpal
    "The only freedom any of us ever has is the freedom to choose how we will not be free."

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    Oh, no, that's okay, Siri. I actually love this guy. He's one of the few people I keep nothing from, and he does the same with me. What's got me bothered, actually worried about him, is his temperament, which is squarely on the passive, live-and-let-live side. You know the type, he never bothers anybody, and is sometimes too slow to react when someone is bothering him. His only fault, as far as I can see, is he's a bit on the self involved musician side, so he can go into himself and be hard to reach--I think that's one of his wife's complaints, that he's inaccessible at times, and it's true. But he's a sweetheart, and not too quick to defend himself. I feel like she's bullying him, and I should say up front that I like his wife. We've never had an issue. But then again, I don't have to live with her. I'm thinking that, and I am usually the last person to say this, they need counseling. Some objective professional, but as you say, finding the right one might be difficult. And of course, the only real issue here is their kids. Two toddlers who are still very much at the impressionable age. One of them too young to really express himself--and I know from experience that can be a problem. When you're too young to understand, let alone put into words what you're feeling, but of course not too young to feel the emotional upheaval, the effect of this kind of turmoil in the home can stay embedded in your subconscious for years.

  12. #12
    practical experience, FTW MaeZe's Avatar
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    My opinion:

    Kids need to see positive role modeling for conflict resolution. If the parents don't know how to do that, having the kids observe poor behavior only serves to transfer bad behavior to the next generation. If you hide the fights, they don't learn. If you argue poorly, try learning some new skills.

    As for sheltering them from something like an impending divorce, that's tricky but that isn't what the OP asked.

    My parents never argued. Unfortunately that was because my mother never asserted her needs, she always deferred to my dad to avoid the discord she hated. But my dad also didn't take advantage of her passivity so it worked out. On the other hand, I didn't really learn conflict resolution myself until I was much older and even now I can't say I'm great at it. I did however take the time to learn positive parenting and there I think I did a good job.

    Getting someone else to learn new conflict resolution skills, good luck with that.
    Last edited by MaeZe; 04-15-2017 at 04:57 AM.

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    I think couples can change their behavior, but you're right, there's only so much a third party can do--which, all I can really do is listen, give my opinion and advise. There has to be a strong motivation to change, and for me, it was looking at my daughter's shocked face when I'd yelled about one thing or another. She was about four or five at the time. The inclination will always be there for me to respond to things the way I used to, the way I'd been taught by example when I was a kid, which was take no prisoners, but then I hear a little voice in my head that says, 'nope, not that way. calm down, think...' and it almost always works.

    I hope it doesn't come to divorce. That's hard on a kid, it was on me.

  14. #14
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    My parent 'didn't' fight in front of us. My dad was not a talker, preferred to bottle things up and make snide comments. My mother wanted to 'talk things out', which basically going on and on and on. My father, the king of the cutting remark, and my mother, the queen of the wounded look. So, between them there wasn't much actual communication, but the tension in the air was palpable. They wanted to shelter us, give us idyllic childhoods, but we never knew what was going on, only that something was wrong. Which gave us two options: pretend nothing was going on, and hope it was over soon, or act out our frustration, which at least let us know what was wrong: us. We were evidently bad kids for acting up.

    It was particularly bad with finances: sometimes (presumably after payday, or some money came it, everything and it was presents all 'round. Other times there was apparently no money, and only a greedy unfeeling child would want something. Only we never knew what was coming next. So, test the waters, make sly inquiries, etc. It might have been intended to shelter us, but it was so very disconcerting. Not quite to the point of gaslighting, but close.

  15. #15
    New kid...seven years ago! DancingMaenid's Avatar
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    I think it depends a lot on what you mean by it. I associate "sheltered" with children whose parents don't let them take age-appropriate risks, let them learn about different viewpoints, or handle any conflicts on their own. There's a world of difference between, for example, never allowing your child to go to a sleepover because you worry they'll get scared, not letting your teenager accompany friends on an out-of-state road trip because you don't think they're mature enough yet, and letting your 12-year-old live alone and unsupervised for weeks at a time while you travel for work. One is probably over-sheltering, one might be an appropriate limit depending on the child, and one could be neglectful. There's also a big difference between not letting your child receive standard sex ed at school because you don't want them to have any information about sex and telling your child that they're too young to view porn on the family computer.

    I think parents really need to determine for themselves where exactly to draw the line, because this is subjective based on your own beliefs as a parent and your child's personality. But I think when it comes down to it, it's a matter of balance.

    Kids should be able to trust that if they come up against a serious conflict that they don't have the power to resolve on their own, like being targeted for serious bullying or being falsely accused of cheating at school, their parents will have their back. But they should also be empowered to handle their own conflicts when possible, such as being encouraged to talk to their teacher directly if they don't understand why they received a bad grade.

    I don't agree with parents trying to restrict what views their kids learn about because the parents want them to share their own beliefs.

    I don't think it does children any favors to lie to them about things like what's going on in the world, or the truth about historical events. I don't think it's necessary to teach kids that Christopher Columbus was a great guy that everyone loved or that the relations between Native Americans and European settlers were all hunky dory and peaceful. And I don't think it's a great idea to lie to kids about current events. But certainly disturbing or complicated details can be filtered for young children who may not understand or be frightened.

    Kids should be given some freedom to make age-appropriate decisions about things like what activities they want to do, but parents can also set rules and limits.

    It's really about balance.
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  16. #16
    Swan in Process Siri Kirpal's Avatar
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    Sat Nam! (literally "Truth Name"--a Sikh greeting)

    That's kind of what I gathered: that your observation is that she's bullying him. And you may well be right. But as a third party...

    Let me give you a story. My Mom was seriously bothered by her eldest sister's behavior towards her husband. Despite his being in the military, he was a quiet intellectual kind of guy. (His job, he once told me, was primarily reading the enemy's newspapers.) Mom always felt that her sister did not appreciate her husband, was always nagging him about this or that, etc. The thing is my uncle loved his wife to their dying days. My Mom once expressed to her sister what she thought about the nagging...and the sister and my Mom were estranged for several years.

    Do you get my drift? Unless she wants to change, she won't. And your friend may or may not want her to. And you may lose the friendship.

    If you can find some way to express your concerns to them very neutrally, to suggest they find someone to teach them better conflict resolution for the sake of their kids, you can try it.

    But I'm thinking the best thing you could do for those kids is model a better path for them, so they know their parents' way is the only way.

    Wishing we could taking a magic wand and fix it...

    Blessings,

    Siri Kirpal
    "The only freedom any of us ever has is the freedom to choose how we will not be free."

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Siri Kirpal View Post
    Sat Nam! (literally "Truth Name"--a Sikh greeting)

    ...And your friend may or may not want her to...

    Blessings,

    Siri Kirpal
    That's pretty interesting.

  18. #18
    Queen of the Realm Ambrosia's Avatar
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    Only they can fix this. You can't fix this. As a friend you can tell them what you think, give your advice, and then leave it alone. If you continue to insert your thoughts/feelings into their relationship, you will in all likelihood lose your place as friend.

    If the couple is willing to go to couple's therapy, they have a chance to work it out. There may be a book you could suggest that would start them thinking about resolving their issues. (I say that knowing a lot of books on relationships have been written, without a specific recommendation for one.) But they have to be open to change. And change is hard. A person has to want to change before they will make the effort to change.
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  19. #19
    Seashell Seller Layla Nahar's Avatar
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    For the thread title - it's better for children to learn about the world - including adult life, and the primary windows to that are parents. But parents do best if they are mindful of what can be traumatic to a child.
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  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ambrosia View Post
    Only they can fix this. You can't fix this. As a friend you can tell them what you think, give your advice, and then leave it alone. If you continue to insert your thoughts/feelings into their relationship, you will in all likelihood lose your place as friend.
    I agree, they have to fix this. I've only stuck my nose in when he's approached me. Believe me, I don't want to be in this, got issues of my own. He hasn't called the past couple of days, and to tell you the truth, I'm glad he hasn't. I honestly don't think I'll lose a friend over this. We've got too much history together. And yeah, I only offer solicited advice. If he doesn't ask, I don't tell. If he never asks me again, we'll never discuss it again.

  21. #21
    Seashell Seller Layla Nahar's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Maze Runner View Post
    ... I only offer solicited advice. If he doesn't ask, I don't tell. If he never asks me again, we'll never discuss it again.
    I'm like this, because I hate *getting* unsolicited advice. But sometimes I'm shouting inside 'why are you doing THIS? Don't you know xyz...' or whatever.
    すべての武器を楽器に
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  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by Layla Nahar View Post
    I'm like this, because I hate *getting* unsolicited advice. But sometimes I'm shouting inside 'why are you doing THIS? Don't you know xyz...' or whatever.
    I'm lookin' for somebody to straighten my life out. God knows they'd have a lot to work with.

  23. #23
    Swan in Process Siri Kirpal's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Maze Runner View Post
    I'm lookin' for somebody to straighten my life out. God knows they'd have a lot to work with.
    Sat Nam! (literally "Truth Name"--a Sikh greeting)

    Tap yourself on the chest. Look inward. You're the guy for the job you want done.

    Blessings,

    Siri Kirpal
    "The only freedom any of us ever has is the freedom to choose how we will not be free."

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Siri Kirpal View Post
    Sat Nam! (literally "Truth Name"--a Sikh greeting)

    Tap yourself on the chest. Look inward. You're the guy for the job you want done.

    Blessings,

    Siri Kirpal
    Ouch, now I am in trouble. No, I hear you, and I thank you.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cindyt View Post
    I was raised by a paranoid schizophrenic and a moody playboy. They were both mean drunks. Use your imagination on the lack of sheltering. I could tell some tales, and do in my autobiography.
    My mother was severely manic-depressive. While we were small, my brother and I knew she would go in the hospital for long stretches, but I only learned the details many years later. Part of the lack of communication in my household growing up was an intentional strategy of shielding us, but it could not be hidden that something was wrong. If nothing else, being in what was effectively a single-parent household when that parent was a physician and surgeon meant we were, at times, left dangerously unsupervised.

    Little or no drama; certainly nothing traumatic. Our parents did the best they could (for the time) with a bad situation. It's effect on me as an adult-I can't speak for my brother-is mostly that my memories of growing up are refracted through a pervading sense of melancholy.

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