How Verbal Abuse Between Parents Affects Children

January 12, 2023 Cheryl Wozny

Verbal abuse can impact the way children view relationships and themselves. Sometimes parents exhibit verbally abusive behavior toward each other without involving the children as recipients. Although the kids may not receive any verbal abuse from their parents, this dynamic still profoundly affects children and how they develop into adults. 

When verbal abuse exists in a home, everyone suffers. This behavior is not isolated to the recipient when multiple people live together, like a family unit. Although some abusers may feel that the children are unaffected because they are not the target, nothing could be further from the truth. 

Verbal Abuse Between Parents Is Toxic for Children

Unfortunately, children of all ages have experienced their parents being verbally abusive to one another. Naturally, older kids can understand hurtful words and the meanings behind insults. But, even infants and young children who do not speak can interpret the body language and tone of voice that comes with parents who abuse their partner verbally. 

I recall a marriage counseling session with my first spouse when he yelled at me, and I was upset trying to navigate the situation. Because we had no childcare, our two children were there with us. Although the youngest was only an infant, the oldest child was a toddler. During our exchange, my oldest got up from the toys and came over to stand between us with concern. 

Of course, neither my ex-spouse nor I noticed this action of our firstborn until the counselor pointed it out. This realization made me sit back and think about how our arguments affect our kids. 

How Verbally Abusive Parents Can Alter Children

When a child grows up listening to insults and other verbally abusive behavior, they sometimes become immune to the severity of it. Some kids may even grow up believing this is how you show love to your partner and mimic the behavior in their own adult relationships. 

Thankfully, not every child with parents who verbally abuse one another will grow up with the same habits. However, a child may mature with other issues, including:

Witnessing verbal abuse can be as damaging to a child, even when it is between the parents. So, it's vital that parents avoid this toxic behavior as much as they can. 

Stopping the Verbal Abuse Between Parents

Although some individuals may think that verbal abuse isn't a problem because their spouse is a good parent to the kids, this toxic behavior is still damaging. If you and your partner engage in verbally abusive behavior in a home with children, getting help is critical. 

Finding the support you need from local resources will help build stronger relationships and ensure your kids have a healthy connection to rely upon throughout their life. Eliminating verbal abuse between parents will benefit everyone in the home, including the children. 

APA Reference
Wozny, C. (2023, January 12). How Verbal Abuse Between Parents Affects Children, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 19 from

Author: Cheryl Wozny

Cheryl Wozny is a freelance writer and published author of several books, including mental health resources for children titled, Why Is My Mommy So Sad? and Why is My Daddy So Sick? Writing has become her way of healing and helping others. Find Cheryl on TwitterInstagramFacebook, and her blog

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