According to John Gottman, marriage researcher and author of “Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child,” a poor relationship between parents can affect children’s physical, emotional and social health. As a parent, you may have problems with your spouse — if you don’t there’s probably something wrong with you — but you should be aware of how such problems might affect your children.
Stress Becomes Indifference
Stress due to marital conflict, or even conflict between divorced parents, can often pour into the parent-child relationship. As you are only human, your mood affects your actions. When your parent-parent relationship is full of stress, it’s easy to find yourself in a constant bad mood. The problem is that this moodiness can change how you treat your kids. Parents who are always fighting and stressed out are more likely to be indifferent to their children’s problems. After all, children’s problems are minor in comparison to parents’ problems. So, maintaining a good relationship allows parents to pay more attention to their kids’ problems.
Smooth Sailing Preserves Resources
When parents maintain a good relationship, heated arguments are rare. For the children, this means their parents have more time and energy to spend in heated arguments with them. In other words, when parent’s aren’t wasting their time dealing with their relationship problems, they have time to spend with their children. A poor relationship between parents can also leave parents feeling worn out, without the energy to play with rowdy kids.
The Parents’ Relationship as a Relationship Role Model
Parents are their children’s role models, whether children like to admit it or not. On a similar note, the relationship between parents acts as a role model for the relationships between children and their peers. As a parent, you have control over half of your parent-parent relationship — and probably more if you’re the mom. So using that control to set a good example for your children’s relationships can help them develop good connections with their friends.
Drama as a Distraction
Sometimes a TV drama can suck a person in. Your children might not be huge drama fans, but when there’s drama in the family, they can’t help but watch. The problem is, such drama leads to problems of childhood adaption. Children emotionally focused on problems between parents have little energy to focus elsewhere. A 1993 study in the “Journal of Family Psychology” showed that children of parents with relationship problems perform more poorly academically, even up to adulthood. As childhood is a time to be a kid, focusing on adult drama is counterproductive.