One study showed that mothers were 41% more likely and fathers were 60% more likely to have tense parent-child interactions with their children on a given day when marital conflict had happened one day prior. Indeed, research has shown that spillover can happen several ways. For example, parents who are having conflict with each other may:
- Use more harsh and punitive discipline with their children
- Become disengaged and disinterested in their children’s lives
- Show more negative emotions toward their children like frustration and impatience
Other common unhealthy/problematic parenting behaviors that may occur as a result of couple conflict include:
- Poor communication (or no communication) between partners about parenting matters and decisions
- Frequent arguments, at times occurring in front of the children, over issues related to parenting
- Inconsistent, ineffective, or the absence of appropriate discipline for children
- Hyper-focus on the children and their activities to distract from dealing with the couple relationship problems
- Inappropriate confiding in children about the conflict within the couple relationship
It is clear that there is a real impact of couple conflict on parenting. Addressing these issues as soon as possible will help protect your children from the negative effect that your couple conflict may have on them now and into their adult lives.
Next, we look at some healthy behaviors related to effective parenting and resolving couple conflict.