A new study shows that marital conflict is a significant source of physiological stress for children. When kids witness their parents argue, their body’s stress response is affected (specifically, their parasympathetic nervous system). This makes it harder for them to pay attention, solve problems, and learn new information.
Take home message: Kids who witness their parents arguing are physically affected by the conflict. This limits their learning potential and cognitive abilities. This supports all of the other research showing how bad it is for kids to watch their parents fight.
My take: Too many parents say they are “staying together for the children.” More evidence that marital conflict is bad for kids. Based on research, divorce is much better than fighting parents. In other words, if you are divorced, don’t feel so bad. Staying married if you fought a lot was much worse for your kids’ emotional and intellectual life. If you are married, be aware that your arguments are affecting your kids. Save the skirmish for after bedtime. And maybe “being right” isn’t so important after all.
(in journal Child Development)