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How Often Should Parents Fight?

Whether seeing your parents fight surprises you or whether it’s just a part of your daily home life, it can be discomforting to see your parents at odds. It can also have you asking, “Is this normal?” and “How often should parents fight?

It’s actually normal for parents to argue about various topics daily – from finances to household management and raising kids to personal pet peeves. But, in a healthy relationship, the parents quickly resolve these day-to-day conflicts. They may even resolve it before you realize there is a problem!

Here, we’ll explore how often and why parents tend to fight with one another, and we’ll look at how you – their child – can respond to any anxiety or stress that arises when you see your parents fighting.

How Often Do Most Parents Fight?

Most parents have disagreements daily. These disagreements can be about small and unimportant things, like what to eat for dinner. Or, they can disagree about huge decisions, such as moving to another town or getting a new job. When two people have different ideas and opinions, it opens the door to conflict. 

Even parents in a loving relationship are not totally protected from conflict. They’re human, so they have negative emotions sometimes. They get tired, frustrated, stressed, or upset and might lash out at whoever is closest to them, which is often their spouse or partner. These regular, everyday frustrations can lead to fighting in the home. 

Of course, the scale of the fight or argument reflects the scale of the disagreement. For example, parents shouldn’t be breaking dishes or shouting because they can’t agree on what to cook for dinner. However, more significant disputes can lead to more dramatic fights. 

These loud and disruptive fights aren’t familiar or frequent in a healthy relationship; they spring up when extreme pressure outside the relationship and/or disagreements about big life choices occur.

So, while little spats and disagreements might be a near-daily occurrence for some couples, parents in a healthy relationship have big fights much less frequently and only when confronted with external pressures and problems. 

I Get Anxiety When My Parents Fight

You are not alone if you feel anxious or stressed when you see or hear your parents fighting. In fact, stressed home life and family relationships are one of the most frequently cited reasons for childhood anxiety, according to a recent report from the BBC (source).

The good news is that there are several things that you can do to help reduce this anxiety.

The first thing you should do is put things in perspective. When your parents are fighting or arguing, examine your own response. Do you tend to shut down and withdraw? Or are you the type who jumps into the heat of the argument?

Take an honest look at your own response to your parents’ fighting and think of more productive ways to react to their behavior.

It can be easy to succumb to stress and let your emotions take over. In that case, you might lose a couple of hours of your day trying to calm down after the episode. Instead, you can try these methods for overcoming stress and anxiety when your parents are fighting.

This can save you time and energy from getting involved in an argument that isn’t yours. 

How to Overcome Stress When Your Parents are Fighting

When your parents are in the throes of an argument, and you feel the anxiety start to set in, there are a few ways to calm down in the moment.

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First, take several deep breaths. Focus on breathing in slowly for four seconds, holding the breath for four seconds, then slowly exhaling for four seconds. Wait four seconds before repeating this breathing exercise.

Deep breathing can help you bring your emotions under control, and it can help alleviate the physical symptoms of oncoming anxiety, such as increased respiration rate, heart rate, and blood pressure (source). When you take deep breaths, you’re helping both your body and your mind to calm down.

Once calmer, you’ll be in a much better position to assess and regulate your emotions. This can help prevent you from getting upset or angry and encourage those around you – including your parents – to calm down and regulate their own emotions. 

Keep a Journal

In general, there are other, less immediate ways to help control the stress and anxiety you feel when your parents fight. For instance, you can keep a journal. In the journal, write down precisely what you’re feeling: be specific.

Then, as you continue to write, try to pinpoint what led to these emotions. Was it something that happened to you? Was it something you saw happen to someone else? Or maybe it was something that reminded you of a problem or incident from a while ago?

Whatever caused your emotions, writing down exactly how you’re feeling is an excellent way to get through those emotions. It’s a way to express your feelings without possibly hurting anyone else’s feelings. Plus, the journal will grow over time, and you’ll be able to look back and see how far you’ve come in emotional regulation!

Laugh it Off

Another way to reduce stress and anxiety in the home is to laugh and smile more. This may sound entirely superficial, but a good sense of humor helps keep things in perspective. It’s much harder to start a fight with someone laughing and smiling along with you, even if you don’t always see eye-to-eye with them. 

Arguments about inconsequential things are much less likely to occur when you – and the people around you at home – are wired to laugh instead of getting angry. This is a mindset that you can learn and practice, and with time, it can help the overall mood of the home. 

In cases where deep-rooted issues contribute to your parents’ fighting, smiling and laughing is just a way to treat the surface mood. However, this mood can help create a safe space in the home where parents and the rest of the family can communicate openly and honestly to solve a conflict healthily. 

How Do You Deal with Parents Fighting Constantly?

The best and most straightforward way to deal with your parents’ constant fighting is to approach them and talk about it. Their actions impact your feelings and well-being, so you should come to them and bring that to their attention. But, of course, there are practical and ineffective ways to do this.

You shouldn’t come to them with an angry attitude: screaming and throwing a fit won’t work. Instead, look underneath the anger, and try to identify what feelings are actually leading to that stress and anger. Then, get ready to talk to your parents about their fighting. 

How to Talk to Your Parents About Their Fighting

If you’re feeling stress and anxiety because your parents are frequently fighting, you should first mention it to them. Then, you can use “I” statements to express your feelings and to avoid blaming or pointing fingers (source).

For example, you can say, “I feel anxious when I hear or see you two fighting.” Or, you might say, “I feel hurt and angry when the two people I love the most are fighting with each other.” 

Notice how each sentence starts with “I” – the focus is on your own emotions and reactions. When you keep the focus on your own feelings and reactions, you can prevent defensiveness and open up communication more likely to lead to real solutions. 

Be Patient

Just because you have one good conversation with your parents doesn’t mean the fighting will stop. It will probably take a while and require sustained commitment from everyone involved. Everyone needs to be patient and continue working to communicate well and avoid unhealthy conflict in the long run. 

Communicate Openly and Honestly

It’s essential to be honest when you talk to your parents about their fighting. Don’t blow things out of proportion; at the same time, don’t push down your own emotions to try to spare their feelings. Instead, try to be as objective as possible and encourage your other family members to do the same.

For more on parenting communication, check out our article Why Parents Shouldn’t Punish Their Kids for Their Mistakes.

Get Help When You Need It

In some cases, talking it out with your parents won’t lead to the end of constant fighting. That’s when professional help from a counselor, therapist, religious leader, or other trusted adults can be really beneficial. This person can take a more objective look at the problem and offer advice from a new perspective. 

Is it Normal for Parents to Fight All the Time?

While it is normal for parents to fight or argue, it isn’t necessarily normal or healthy if they’re fighting all the time. This can signify many things, including stress from their jobs, incompatibility, or difficulty in other aspects of life outside of their partnership. 

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In many cases, parents are frustrated with something and take this frustration out on the people closest to them. Of course, this is not a healthy way to deal with those negative emotions, and it causes harm to the relationships at home. This is one of the most common causes of constant fighting and arguing. 

It is certainly normal for parents to fight sometimes. Conflict exists in every relationship; you’ve probably had rocky moments with your friends, classmates, and siblings, for example. 

So it’s perfectly usual for people in a very close relationship such as a marriage or co-parenting relationship. Conflict is a part of every relationship, so you can expect to see some fighting, tension, or arguments between your parents at some point or another.

However, constant fighting can signify unhealthy aspects of the relationship. Fighting can look different for each family, too. For instance, in one home, fights might be loud and involve plenty of shouting; in another, the silence treatment and cold shoulder are the key indicators of conflict.

Whatever the case, constant fighting is not normal, and it is a sign of an unhealthy relationship between the parents. 

Parents Fighting Effects on Children

Parents’ constant fighting can lead to stress and anxiety in children. When arguments are loud, disruptive, and frequent, it can have a clear negative impact on growing kids. However, parents shouldn’t try to hide their minor spats from their kids or over-protect them from all forms of conflict or disagreements in the home. 

In fact, the usual, run-of-the-mill arguments parents have over the years don’t significantly impact children. It can even be beneficial for children to see their parents disagree and work through the disagreement healthily and lovingly. 

Growing Up with Parents Who Fight

Growing up with parents who fight – especially if they constantly fight – can be very stressful. You might feel like you’re walking on eggshells whenever you’re around your parents, and their fighting and arguing might impact other areas of your life.

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Throughout all of this, the critical thing to remember is that your parents are human, too. They have good and bad days, and they want a family they can rely on, just like you do. They may feel disappointed, stressed, or frustrated, and when they fight, they’re actually searching for a safe place to process all of these emotions.

Final Thoughts

Seeing and hearing your parents fighting is stressful, and it can lead to anxiety in the long run. However, there are a few things you can do to help overcome this stress and promote a safe space for resolving conflict in your home.

First of all, practice taking control of your emotions in the moment. Deep breathing techniques are the perfect way to bring yourself back to center, so you’re much less likely to contribute to the problem. Then, it’s essential to use “I” statements when communicating your feelings; this way, no one feels blamed or upset.

Next, remember that you can help lift your home’s general mood and atmosphere. Try to smile, laugh more, and encourage other family members to do the same. When we curate an attitude of good humor, it’s harder to slip into fights and arguments, especially over small and unimportant things. 

Finally, and most importantly, you should never forget that your parents’ fighting is not your fault. No matter how it feels – or even what others may say – your parents need to be responsible for their own relationship and conflict management.