What Parental Fighting Does To A Child’s Mental Health?

A few spats here and there, sulking, silent treatment and arguments here and there are a part of every relationship. Whether it is between siblings, two friends, parent and the child, between relatives and of course, between romantic partners; fights are an important part of every relationship. However, a relationship no longer remains healthy when these mild fights undergo a crude makeover. When these fights and arguments become a regular thing, become more aggressive, involve intense hostility, mental and/or physical abuse, distance and depleting respect and understanding; that is when things start to get stormy, not just for the two people fighting but mainly for the people around them. Children who grow up in such an environment, watching and hearing loud rebukes and insults being exchanged between the parents not only develop poor mental health for the time being but also harbour long-term mental and emotional repercussions.

Alternatively, in some cases, they could also benefit from some fights. When a child watches their guardians fight and later watches them realize, apologize, find the middle ground and reconcile, they feel happier. It teaches them to build and maintain relationships despite differences. However, in other cases where a lot of negative energy is produced during a fight, which then continue to stay and only increases, the child sinks into a chaos of emotional turmoil.

Not just young kids but also young adults and teens are affected adversely with parental fights. Firstly, it creates a sense of insecurity in a child’s heart and mind. There is shock, confusion and intense fear. Gradually, there may be hatred, anger and hostility. The child may slowly start distancing himself mentally from the parents. He may shut down from them. That is what makes them more prone to behavioural issues. Such kids then find an escape and comfort in bad company and bad habits like drugs, drinking, felony, juvenile crimes and more.

Emotionally, the effects are intense and long-term. Some kids develop low self-esteem, low confidence and lack of focus and attention. They may refrain from any kind of social interactions and engage in self-abuse in the form of blaming oneself, chiding oneself and/or physically harm themselves. Their performance in school, college or extra-curricular activities may fizzle down. Moreover, there may be physical impact. Due to all the stress and negative energy, thoughts and exposure to gruesome fights, the emotional suffering is likely to translate into physical pain with headaches, stomach aches etc.

Such kids are also likely to get depression and anxiety and the same may be carried into adulthood. This is one of the long-term impacts of a childhood marked by parental fights. As a grown up, the child may fall into major depression, anxiety and develop a very negative outlook on life in general. This may affect their future relationships, their friendship and their overall life in the long run. While some weep and cry, others turn aggressive and restless. And, while some kids may react inwardly, others may externalize the pain. So if adults feel that their personal fights don’t affect their off-springs and if they do, the effect is temporary then they may be wrong.

Written and Edited by - Akshi Ranka

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