Toxic Relationships Impact Your Kids, Too

Serving Clients Throughout Sonoma, Mendocino, Lake, and Napa Counties

At every corner of the internet, there’s information about “staying together for the kids” and how it might be better to just suck it up when you’re in a toxic relationship. There are studies about how stable relationships in the home are beneficial for children and likely set them up for healthy relationships later in life.

That’s all well and good, but is your relationship actually stable if the two of you can’t showcase healthy relationship habits with each other? We want to explore the many ways a toxic relationship between parents can do long-term damage to your children.

It sets a bad example

The most obvious result of remaining in a toxic relationship when there are kids present is that it sets a bad example of what relationships are supposed to look like. Our kids are perceptive and will pick up on the things we say and do. If we’re constantly fighting with our partners in front of them, they’re going to become accustomed to arguments.

This means your children may become more argumentative with you, at daycare, at school, and later in life when they’re attempting to develop personal, professional, and romantic relationships. Even if we try to “act” like things are fine in front of our children, it’s likely they’ll pick up on actions and words we’re not even considering.

Fear of intimacy and trust

In a toxic relationship, it’s expected that both partners will argue frequently and become physically distant. Subjecting children to constant screaming and, in some cases, physical altercations in the home can lead to your children not only fearing you but fearing others.

These arguments and other actions you and your partner take against each other will likely result in your children being hesitant to trust others when the people they’re supposed to trust the most can’t maintain a healthy relationship. It’s important to teach our children to be protective of themselves, but the healthy way to do this is to show them what healthy relationships should look like as opposed to how unhealthy relationships look.

Settling for less becomes normal

We should show our children how important it is to never settle for less and always strive for more. When we stay in a failing relationship, our children see that we’re unhappy but aren’t taking action to find happiness.

It’s okay for us to fail in a relationship but we should never fail our children. If we take the leap of faith and leave a toxic relationship, it can show our children not to settle. This could be reinforced if you’re able to find love again and showcase what a healthy relationship looks like. Our children will pick up on the fact that we went from an unhappy relationship to a happy one even if the transition is a challenge.

They develop guilt

Our relationship problems are almost never our children’s faults, and if any of the blame is owed to them it just reflects poorly on our own parenting abilities. People will often say demeaning things they don’t even intend to during arguments. This could include lashing out at our own children and assigning blame to them.

Even when we don’t directly blame our children, our children may not be able to process arguments between their parents without looking at themselves. They may think their presence isn’t good enough to support the relationship and keep the family together.

At the end of the day, we know some relationships will fail. Everyone will tell you how half of marriages end in divorce. It’s a sad fact, but it’s just part of our reality that we have to adjust to when our own relationship fails. If you need help starting your journey to a new start, contact Carroll Law Office today.

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