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Three things you SHOULD do in front of the kids

Jill is a sometime runner and expert wine taster from sunny San Antonio. She has a degree in social psychology, one husband and three children. Her work has appeared in the Washington Post, Huffington Post, and Babble and she's regular...

Kids can handle more grown-up issues than you think... and they should

You’re probably familiar with the phrase “not in front of the children.” There are certain things we’re socialized to believe are unhealthy to do around kids or discuss while our young ones are present. While there are things that should be adults-only, there’s a surprising amount of evidence that children aren’t the sensitive little creatures we might make them out to be. Is there an appropriate way to make kids aware of grownup problems? And is it healthy?

Here are three things you should do in front of your kids that might have once been confined to “behind closed doors.”

Fight

A full-throttle screaming match in front of your children is never OK, but allowing them to see you disagree or even argue isn’t the worst thing in the world. Arguing in front of children shows them you’re not living in a bubble; that you’re acknowledging conflict exists and that there’s a way to work through it. As a recent article from U.S. News & World Report reports, constructive conflict is OK... healthy, even.

Some couples argue rarely while others might disagree on a daily basis. Every relationship is different. And while we’re not suggesting you “schedule your spats” for when your kids are present, purposely avoiding letting them see you argue might foster false harmony. Conflict is part of life. Show your kids adults can disagree without being mean-spirited or spiteful.

Do consider setting limits about what arguments to table until the children are out of earshot. Arguing about the kids in front of the kids might not serve you well. Letting your kids hear you fight about sex or infidelity in the interest of letting them get a peek at “real life” is probably taking things too far.

More: What happened when my teenage son told me he was ready for sex

Talk about finances

Is talking about money in front of children taboo? Do your kids know how much money you make? If your dollars are stretched too thin, do you hide that from them?

Talking honestly with your children about family finances is healthy. Children should have a general idea of what the family income is. A recent article in the New York Times supports the rationale for being open and honest with children about the family budget. Money shouldn’t be a mystery and real talk about where you sit financially helps better prepare kids for real life.

If your kid goes off to college with no clue about how much groceries and electricity cost, have you set him up for success or are you creating the next generation of maxed-out credit cards?

If your family is going through a rough financial patch, whispering about money woes might make it worse. If you’re concerned about how you’re going to keep paying your mortgage, talk about these things in broad strokes with your children. Often, your kids will draw their own, inaccurate conclusions that will unnecessarily increase their anxieties and insecurities.

Instead of just snapping “No!” the next time your fourth-grader wants a pair of $200 gym shoes, explain why that isn’t in the family budget. If you equate the cost of those tennies to the grocery bill for the week, your child might have a different perspective… and you’re molding how they view money, in a good way.

More: Watch moms try to sing their kids' favorite songs (VIDEO)

Show affection

Think back to when you were a child. Did the idea of your parents smooching (or more) make you cringe? That’s probably a normal reaction. But did you know there is scientific evidence that suggests kissing your partner in front of your kids actually makes you yell at them less?

This article from The Telegraph (U.K.) discusses how happy parents are more likely to be better parents, which completely makes sense. Kissing is fun. It makes people happy. Happy people yell less and communicate more effectively. We’re not suggesting full-on make-out sessions at the dinner table, but it’s good for kids to know their parents see each other in a romantic way.

More: Moms have a right to know if an unvaccinated kid is invited for a playdate

Kiss more. Argue less. Easy-peasy.

Showing children how adults work together to handle adult issues gives them a healthy and realistic perspective on real life, which will hopefully carry over into their own relationships with other people. So next time you see the need to have a spat with your husband over whose turn it is to take out the garbage, you don’t have to wait until the kids are in bed. But don’t forget to kiss and make up.

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