Sometimes when you’re out with your teen or older child, you may overhear a couple talking angrily. This feels uncomfortable—but it can open a conversation about relationships, communication, and how people treat each other.
Next time you’re at a restaurant or shopping or whatever and people nearby start arguing audibly, you might give your kid a meaningful look so he tunes in (if he hasn’t already). On the ride home, ask his reaction.
What did you think about that couple arguing in the diner/store?
Were they treating each other well?
What did you notice about their argument?
Were they listening to what the other person had to say?
Were they name-calling, or speaking respectfully?
Was one of them trying to calm things down, or were they both escalating the argument?
Did one or both seem defensive, or were they open to the other’s perspective?
What do you think about all that? Was that a constructive way to argue?
Some kids will plunge right in on this sort of thing, in which case talk as long as they’re interested. If your kid doesn’t want to engage, just ask a couple of questions and let it go. Even the asking plants seeds, and she may be more receptive next time. The goal in either case is to help your teen start thinking through what healthy relationships and constructive arguments look like—so she’ll develop those in her own life.