Turn a Fight into a Teachable Moment

Fight is a bit of an aggressive word and can be construed many different ways. So, I’ll define it as is typical in my marriage.

Fight (Durbin Marriage Style) – verb, when Kara and Tim bicker back and forth or have heated discussions in raised and irritated tones.  synonym – argument

One evening, Tim and I began squabbling over I can’t even remember what in front of the kids as he was headed back to shower. Because of our almost nineteen years of marriage (plus five prior years of dating), I knew two things:

1.  That neither of us was truly mad at the other.
2.  That we would resolve the issue before we went to bed.

Do not let the sun go down while you are angry.  Ephesians 4:26b

But as I glanced at my two kids sitting on the couch, a thought occurred to me. Did our children know those two things?!

I called Tim back and we decided to work it out in front of the kids so they could see how Mom and Dad deal with conflict resolution.

We explained that . . .

  • Yes, Mom and Dad do have fights/arguments.  They’ve seen it before.
  • Even when we are trying to work things out and it seems like we are totally frustrated with each other (which we usually are!), we still love each other. Both feelings are possible at the same time.  Love is patient.  1 Cor. 13:4a
  • Sometimes one of us has to walk away, like Daddy did earlier so we can calm down before trying to resolve the issue. Refrain from anger and turn from wrath. Psalm 37:8a
  • We never call each other names or get physical in our arguments. That crosses the line. Love is kind. 1 Cor.13:4
  • Sometimes we have to agree to disagree. And that’s ok, too.
  • We try to never let the sun go down on a heated argument. Do not let the sun go down while you are angry. Ephesians 4:26b

Then we carried on with our argument-turned-conversation, allowing the kids to see us work it out.

I think the benefits of this were many:

  • The kids saw Mom and Dad practicing what they preach.
  • They realized conflict resolution is skill they will need all their life, so they might as well keep practicing with siblings and friends!
  • They saw that conflict is normal.  The important thing is how it is handled.
  • They felt security as Mom and Dad explained that the squabbles don’t change their love and commitment to each other.  (Single parents – These same principles can be demonstrated with a good friend or even parent to child!)
  • They heard how the Bible has practical helps in dealing with conflict.

The next time a “fight” begins in front of your kids, consider blessing them with a similar teachable moment! PS: Though I think this a great idea and helpful to play out in front of your kids every so often (when appropriate), in general, I’m not a fan of arguing or fighting in front of the kids.

For more verses, discussion questions, and take action ideas on the topic of “Fighting,” see your copy of Parenting with Scripture: A Topical Guide for Teachable Moments.