(also at basil and spice and peoplejam)
Children get mannerisms and attitudes from both parents
but develop their inner calm and feeling of well being
from how much their parents like, trust and respect each other.
Increasing research shows that a significant part of a child’s mind and personality is influenced not by how their parents react to the child, but by how their parents respond to each other.
What becomes frustrating and at times demoralizing to children is not so much that mothers and fathers disagree or argue (as they inevitably will), but that parents continue to argue over the same things and never definitively resolve them once and for all.
When children observe parents arguing without resolution they see emotion and reason locked in a “zero sum” fight instead of cooperating with each other. When they then internalize into their personality that emotion and reason cannot work together, their inner sense of calm and well-being is replaced by restlessness. It is as if at any moment their own emotion and reason are on the brink of doing battle in their mind reminiscent of what they observe between their parents. And this destroys inner calm and well being.
As the lack of cooperation between the emotion and reason in their observed world can create chaos in their life, the lack of cooperation between emotion and reason in their own mind can create flaws in their developing personalities.
The best example of how emotion and reason can work together between a mother and father utilizes “tag team parenting.” This is when one parent being better at logical problem solving tells the child to go to the other for comforting if that is what the child seems to need. And conversely when the other parent who is better at emotional comforting tells the child to go speak to the other for help with solving a problem if what the child needs more is good advice.