Tim McGraw: ‘Everybody fights in front of their kids. That’s part of the deal’

Faith Hill and Tim McGraw perform live at the Citi Concert Series for the 'Today' show outside the Rockefeller Plaza in Uptown, Manhattan
Tim McGraw did an essay for Esquire last week that I’m just seeing now. It’s somewhat confessional and he has some good advice. I don’t follow Tim and Faith Hill that much but I remember hearing that they were having problems in their marriage about ten years ago, even after Tim got sober. They’re now considered one of the most solid music/celebrity couples, although Tim makes it clear that they have problems like everyone else. Tim has been open about his sobriety and he mentioned that in Esquire, writing that he was drinking in the morning when he was supposed to be parenting his daughters. (This must have when they were little because he’s been sober since 2008. Faith and Tim have three daughters, Gracie, 24, Maggie, 22, and Audrey, 19.) He also had a kind of homespun wisdom that I enjoyed reading. Here’s some of his essay, with more at the source.

Structure creates freedom. If you don’t have any structure, what you think is freedom is really chaos.

Money doesn’t solve all the problems, but I’d rather have problems than not have money. As bad as that sounds.

I remember a moment when I was getting out of bed and going to the liquor cabinet and taking a big shot at 8:00 in the morning and thinking, I have to wake the kids up. I went straight to my wife and said, “This is where I’m at.” I was scared. She just grabbed me and hugged me and changed my life.

I didn’t know love could feel so good. Was it an emotion? Was it a lifestyle? Was it an imaginary thing? But love is all of those things.

And love is being angry. Love is not talking for a day. Love is getting in each other’s face. Love is accepting that I’m wrong. Love is a 360 degree thing. It’s not linear.

My wife always says, “You’re not scared of anything.” I say, “Ehhh, one thing. I’m looking at it right now.”

They always say you’re not supposed to fight in front of your kids. Everybody fights in front of their kids. That’s part of the deal.

Sometimes God just walks through the room, and you happen to be standing there.

[From Esquire]

I love to hear new sayings and advice. Some of what Tim said are truisms but they’re new to me and I appreciated them. That saying “Money doesn’t solve all the problems, but I’d rather have problems than not have money” is dead on. I also like how he said that love feels good but that it doesn’t stop you from having issues with your partner, essentially. As for the quote in the title, that everyone fights in front of their kids, is that true? I think it is somewhat but it’s just a matter of degrees. I’m divorced and my parents are the bickering type. They’re still going strong, it’s just that I don’t have the best examples to go on. I just hope that most people try to talk things over calmly and work out their differences instead of yelling and getting personal. Being sober helps so much with that.

Also, Tim performed at Biden’s inauguration and he and Faith are Democrats. I’m rooting for them.

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51 Responses to “Tim McGraw: ‘Everybody fights in front of their kids. That’s part of the deal’”

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  1. Nikki says:

    My husband and I yelled in front of the kids. I don’t think that’s ideal, but I did explain “Even people who love each other very much disagree and get very upset with each other sometimes, and they have to work out their feelings.” It’s much better to talk instead of yell, but we didn’t have those skills back then. We are STILL working on how we can disagree more calmly and respectfully.

    • Leskat says:

      Yes, we’ve fought in front of our kids a few times. It’s not like we aim to fight in front of them, it just happens. Even adults can lose control of their emotions and that’s how we have explained it to our kids when it happens.

    • Valerie says:

      This is a good lesson to learn. I grew up equating disagreements or fights with not being liked, which was something I had to unlearn as I got older. My dad made a lot of his arguments personal, so I assumed that if someone didn’t like what I did, they also didn’t like or care about me. I have a more realistic outlook now, but that is such a hard thing to carry as a kid.

    • liz says:

      Same. After 20 years of marriage, we’ve gotten better at communicating and at managing our expectations & emotions. But there are still days when someone’s temper gets the best of them. They are few and far between, but they happen. The Kiddo knows that we love each other, and that we are human beings with plenty of flaws. It’s all in how we deal with those flaws.

      It’s not healthy to agree about absolutely everything or to give in on absolutely everything. When Hubby is frustrated that he’s done most of the dog walking in a given week or if I’m irritated that he’s “forgotten” how to use the dishwasher, it’s a lot better that we discuss those issues in a way that is respectful, before they fester into bigger problems. And it lets Kiddo see how a healthy relationship works (and it is work).

  2. teehee says:

    I’ve never fought with my partner of 5 years.

    • Veronika says:

      Every time there is an article on this topic on this site someone always has to make this comment.
      I don’t know if it’s to humble brag or what.
      Of course I’ve had disagreements with my partner. Even arguments.
      We’ve been together for 18 years.
      We never do it in front of our children. We agreed early on to have the self control to work through any conflict away from the kids. They’ve seen us apologize in front of them a few times, because they knew why we excused ourselves to another room to talk privately, so we thought from time to time it would be educational for them to see & hear us apologize.

      • Aphra says:

        And, @Veronika, there is always someone on this site like yourself policing how others express themselves.

    • Green Desert says:

      @teehee, forgive me but this cannot possibly be true. I say this below, but what is a fight? Not everyone yells. But every couple disagrees. You have a bad day and you snap at your partner. You get annoyed because they missed a good parking spot and you give them sh*t and they get annoyed with you. Disagreements are healthy in relationships in part because they teach conflict resolution. If you truly never allow yourself to fight/argue (whatever you want to call it), how are you going to handle it when something big happens that you both have fundamental differences on?

      But maybe you just define “fight” differently?

      • teehee says:

        Honest to goodness, we do not fight.
        If either of us gets upset, we are both the type to first withdraw and sulk. We don’t start yelling and don’t even have major squabbles or disagreements.

        In the time we are both quiet, we think about what happened– what was said, how we feel, what our reaction is etc, and by the time I come around to understand what happened– it can be hours, days, or even weeks– I am then prepared to talk about it neutrally and factually. He is then also able to listen, and has has the motional intelligence to respect what I say.

        I think it seems “common” cos most men are devoid of any trace of EQ, and it SEEMS like the norm.
        But should it be??

        It isn’t a humble brag so much as a “hey you guys, its NOT normal to fight. Adults should be able to understand and express themselves, and respect others who do the same, to them” PSA.

  3. goofpuff says:

    Um. No? Not everybody fights in front of their kids?

    • Aphra says:

      I don’t and wouldn’t. Married 20 years — never EVER fought in front of the children. Or even when they were home. Scary memories of childhood are that sound of parents fighting.

  4. Trillion says:

    never yelled or even argued in front of our son, married over 20 yrs. I also never once heard my parents argue.

  5. Leigh says:

    Depends on the fighting. An argument that doesn’t get above raised voices, and doesn’t include emotional/verbal/physical abuse…ok. Model healthy disagreements for your kids. Screaming, throwing things, hitting walls/a person, insults, name calling, gaslighting? NO! That’s a huge misconception my own ex apparently has; he thinks families fight and drag each other around the house and scream and kick and pinch and bite and hit, and the kids should just get over it. Guess who hasn’t seen his kids since??

    • ItReallyIsYouNotMe says:

      💯 my parents got into massive screaming blowouts when I was a kid and it felt so unstable. My husband and I do not argue in front of our kids so my kids don’t understand that we still disagree sometimes (they are also young) I recently told my kids when they were were bickering that it’s my job to teach them how to disagree in a kind and loving way. And I gave them an example that I wanted to spend money on a vacation but their dad thought that we should save for some upcoming bills but we compromised in taking the vacation this year but agreeing to no vacation next year.

      But also, kudos to Tim for pointing out that all marriages have issues to work through.

  6. Alosa says:

    I would never say it is great to fight in front of your children. But if it does happen – and you are fighting fair and making up – you can take comfort that you are demonstrating how that works.

  7. Anarialm says:

    I think it depends on what is meant by “fight”. I think it’s really important for kids to see adults disagree on things and then resolve the conflict via apologizing/compromising/etc. Screaming arguments or fights that are never really resolved I know I found deeply stressful as a kid (and as an adult). I definitely wouldn’t be happy in or around a relationship where bickering in the primary method of communication.

  8. Andrew’s Nemesis says:

    I’m still triggered when I hear voices on the floor below me because as a child, my parents used to fight all night and would say the ugliest, most hateful things. I would lie awake for hours, hearing their voices rant back and forth. Even muffled, it was traumatic. I’ve had a complete aversion to conflict ever since. I don’t agree with TMcG at all.

  9. Scal says:

    Yes everyone has fought in front of their kids. Has no one tried to corral kids in a car for a road trip? Worked on putting together ikea furniture together? Gotten lost?

    What’s important is HOW you fight and how you model healthy conflict resolution. My parents fought now and then but also model how they talked it out afterwards and didn’t hold grudges. Meanwhile then you have the Shepherd Bell family who scream all the time and then he ignores her for months. That’s not healthy fighting.

    • goofpuff says:

      Ok not EVERYONE has fought in front of their kids. And yes we have corral 3 kids in the car on road trips, worked putting ikea furniture together and gotten lost. And we don’t fight over it because we see it as an opportunity to solve a problem together.

      • Robyn says:

        You and your spouse are likely well matched temperaments then, but that doesn’t mean it’s not still normal (and healthy) for most couples to have disagreements/fights. It’s a part of living with/near and working with all sorts of different people.

    • Christine says:

      EXACTLY. My parents didn’t even kind of argue in front of us, and, cutting to the chase, their marriage ended spectacularly when my brothers and I were in our 30s. It’s healthy to show kids that emotions are a real thing that should be recognized, and not everyone is always at their best.

      Meanwhile, I find it refreshing that a rich person has actually said that having money is always better. We all know it, but for some reason rich people seem to think the rest of us want to think that their money is a huge burden they have to face, on top of whatever “normal” problems they think they have.

  10. Penelope says:

    I tend to believe that people who rather smugly say they never argue with their partner are either lying or one of them is a doormat. Conflict is natural and helps people and relationships grow. Also, arguing in front of the kids isn’t just screaming like a fishwife at him in the driveway while he threatens to run you over. Sometimes it’s just bickering; other times it can just be a hard discussion and someone is going to have to compromise. We had a couple sitting at the kitchen table with the kid climbing all over me and interrupting and asking questions and we both sort of liked that because it forced us to be kind and not use swear words and wrap it up quickly. Arguing is normal! I have 3 friends I’ve known for 30+ years we’ve had doozies. Yet I would walk through the fires of hell for any of them, and some of those arguments are the funniest stories we tell. Conflict can be a great thing when you both work on doing it well.

    • goofpuff says:

      Um, just because our family is not like yours, doesn’t mean we’re lying. Geez. And for the record nobody is a doormat.

    • Veronika says:

      Exactly, on the doormat comment.
      My partner grew up with a parent who was a doormat. It was this parents mission to let their spouse have their way at all times so as to avoid conflict. They never made decisions together, never had discussions, never shared what their likes & dislikes were. There wasn’t any need to talk, because the doormat parent never wanted to risk conflict & the domineering parent always got their way & considered their spouse to be “easy going.”
      It was a sad life.

    • superashes says:

      Yup. I’ve never seen a couple that didn’t fight in some form or fashion, unless it was a doormat situation.

      Maybe the scale of the fight differed, but there was conflict all the same. The key is whether the parents can stay respectful and work it out, as opposed to name calling and screaming.

      I’m glad I’m not the only one over here in disbelief, lol.

      • teehee says:

        Well that just because its a rare treat to have two capable and coherent adults together who can be civil.

        Most people just totally lack inter-personal skills and especially think they can be as rude as they like to their partner cos “they’ll stick around”.

        I come from an abusive, violent home and my partner from a fully loving and positive home. We both would never want fighting or negativity to take over our relationship, for different reasons.

        No doormats necessary. In fact the agreement we have is “Neither of us needs the other- if anyone starts to get petulant, we can just leave”. So its a contract– you treat me right, I treat you right, and if you step out of line, I have no reason to put up with it cos I don’t need to. Watch your step and be civil.

        We’re both in this to make a productive constructive homelife as active partners and not just to be each others toys or punching bags. We aren’t confused teenagers anymore. Those are the cards on the table…

        Quite the opposite of a doormat.

  11. Chill says:

    My parents never fought in front of the 7 kids.

  12. USAF retired says:

    I never heard my parents argue either.
    I also never, ever saw them show any affection toward each other. None. Not a hug, hand held, peck on the cheek, nothing and they were together until my dad died at 52.
    Not yelling in front of the kids is ideal but maybe people who show no emotion have a lot of other things going on. I don’t know.
    Take a walk. Take a drive. Don’t scream and cuss at each other. It scares the kids and you CAN help it.

    • Valerie says:

      Wow, 52 years. My parents are kind of the same. It weirded me out when my dad would give my mom a kiss before going to work because it seemed so performative. Maybe it wasn’t, but it always felt weird to me, even as I got older!

  13. Pammy says:

    My husband and I have been separated for two years. We made it a rule not to fight in front of our child during our marriage and stuck to it. Even the split has been very amicable, still doing things as a family including camping. We still haven’t argued in front of her. That’s what worked for us.

    My daughter was always in tune to my emotions, and once I was mad at her dad. I thought I hid it well but she noticed and was mad at him too. Poor guy lol.

    That said, every family is different. And allowing kids see how to resolve disagreements is healthy. Additionally, I think there is a difference between crazy fights/verbal abuse versus normal arguments.

  14. Seraphina says:

    Married almost 20 years. Being locked up in a house for 18 months has caused us to fight in front of the kids. No it’s not ideal but it’s also not healthy to keep things inside – both physically and mentally. And yes, I would rather let them see us argue and explain that it does happen, then have their mother end up in a looney bin.

  15. Robyn says:

    Anger is a normal human emotion and conflict is a part of life. Pretending otherwise does them a disservice. Kids need to see healthy ways of expressing anger, resolving conflict, and how to meaningfully reflect on their behaviour, grow, and apologize in a safe environment before they go out into the world. I’m far from perfect at this, but I want my kids to see that I’m not just their mother, I’m a whole, imperfect but always learning and growing person and so are they.

    • Valerie says:

      Yes. And while unhealthy modelling can teach kids too, it’s obviously not desirable. I think part of why I am so insistent upon healthy communication is because I did *not* see that in my parents’ marriage. Even today, my mom will do all she can to avoid conflict, even if it means doing extra work. For example, instead of reminding him that he shouldn’t wipe his dirty hands on the clean kitchen towel, she’ll just replace it quietly. Little things like that that I think you should be able to discuss with a person without them blowing up at you.

      • Robyn says:

        Yes, those little things end up exploding out in one way or another, whether it’s an inappropriate outburst or a health issue…the body keeps score. Healthy modelling and expression, responding rather than reacting – it’s a work in progress and I’m honest with my boys about it. Just like I want them to know that as men (especially in this culture), it’s also normal and so important to express joy, sadness, affection etc.


    It all depends on degrees. My father is an alcoholic and my parents didn’t divorce until I was 13. Screaming matches, hurling insults, slamming doors, calling names- everything.

    I think bickering in front of your kids is normal. I know that wasn’t.

    I have issues with handling conflict to this day because I’m hypersensitive to changes in tone and elevation in volume. I’ve worked on it extensively in therapy but I know it’s hard on my husband. He’ll get frustrated like anyone does, raise his voice slightly and I will collapse into tears or even have a panic attack, depending on our proximity (much more likely in a car than in an open apartment, for example).

    It’s not my place to pass judgment on other parents, but please, please consider your children. You may think yelling is par for the course but it could have far-reaching consequences, especially if your children are young.

    • Valerie says:

      You raise a lot of good points. Kids are definitely more aware than we think, and that awareness can morph into hyperawareness and hypersensitivity. I’m sorry you still have to deal with the fallout from that. <3 I hope things improve for you and am glad you have a supportive husband.

  17. Valerie says:

    I think mild arguments and bickering are fine. Out and out brawls or pissing matches are another matter entirely. I don’t remember my parents fighting much in front of me, but my dad was and remains a big fan of the silent treatment, so… Tells you how he handles conflict. My mom is the type to avoid confrontation, especially because she knows how he can drag things out for a day or two.

    I don’t like conflict either, but I think it’s better to address an issue rather than tiptoe around it. If you continue to sweep it under the rug, nothing gets done about it, and it often ends up being a bigger issue than it was in the first place. I feel like the Happy Home approach is outmoded and unrealistic. Parents are people too!

  18. AMA1977 says:

    Married 16 years, 2 kids. We try to take arguments in another room, but there have been times when it’s either started in front of them or there is no way to take it somewhere else (in the car, for example.) We don’t argue often, and usually keep it fairly civil. He’s a lawyer so he’s an excellent arguer (stays calm while I get madder) whereas I sometimes get emotional, but usually not. Yelling is rare behavior, if ever, and never in front of them.

    My kids are intuitive and can tell if we are not happy with each other, and we always tell them that we love them and each other, but we’re not seeing eye to eye right now. They get it, they sometimes disagree with friends/us/each other and know it doesn’t mean you’re not friends or don’t love each other anymore.

    My parents have been married for nearly 50 years, and they’re bickerers, which drives me nuts. I am acutely aware of that habit and the underlying issues that seem to fuel it, and I try my best to avoid them in my marriage. They love each other, but sometimes my mom talks to him like he’s stupid (and sometimes he, admittedly, does dumb/annoying things) and I try very, very hard to avoid that dynamic because the lack of kindness and respect is not something I would feel good about participating in.

    • Nicole says:

      My youngest is empathic and can sense a change in energy from my husband and I. It isn’t always when we’re angry with each other. Last night we got news that a friend of ours passed away from COVID. We were in shock. We discussed it a little bit, but we were much too stunned to process it. We went about our normal routine, but my son could sense it.

  19. Margo says:

    Fighting in front of the kids may not be yelling – it might be having a tense conversation or disagreement in front of the kids. We had several of those situations over the years. No yelling – ever. It’s not how we communicate, which may explain 25 years of marriage!

  20. candy says:

    I think bickering is somewhat to be expected, but ideally fighting is limited. I grew up in a volatile household, and I do think it’s damaging. Children simply don’t understand and can’t process that it’s temporary or normal, or part of “working things out.” It can cause extreme anxiety in a child. That said, presenting a picture perfect environment also has its drawbacks.

  21. Green Desert says:

    I think it depends on what he means by “fight.” I don’t agree that every couple “yells” at each other in front of their kids. But have little disagreements? Snap at each other (even in a minor way)? Bicker a little? Yeah, that probably happens with most people.

    I also think it can be healthy if there’s a little disagreement in front of the kids but then the couple talks it out, apologizes, even addresses it directly with the kid. Kids could learn that people can have disagreements but still love each other. It can also teach valuable communication skills, listening skills, etc.

    It all depends on what he means by “fight.” To some people fighting means yelling, to others a tiny disagreement could be a fight.

  22. bobafelty says:

    Fighting in front of kids is a choice, and a bad one.

    I’m glad he’s sober, but the rumors were about way more than alcohol back in the day. He and Faith got super skinny and there was a lot of talk about cocaine use. They both look healthier and happier, so I hope they can keep it up.

  23. AMJ says:

    Fighting in front of the kids is so toxic. My parents did that all the time, it was terrifying. I will never forget it and it’s hard to forgive. Now whatever different opinions I have with my partner, we discuss in private. One doesn’t honestly even need to ‘fight’, gods. Just talk things over, adults should be able to do that. This is how you actually solve issues, unlike my mother and father who never really solved anything, being too stubborn and childish to ever look beyond their own egos.

    • Robyn says:

      I mean…some of us grew up in abusive households and had THAT modelled for us and as *adults* have had to learn healthy conflict resolution and coping mechanisms. You think it’s normal even though deep down you know it’s not. You question whether you deserve love and may not know how to give it, may not know how not to be defensive. We aren’t all just “able to do that” without help and a lot of work and support in some cases, but okay. Some folks may come out of abuse with these skills , but it’s how we were taught and wired. The oversimplification of ~choice~ in this thread is harmful, if not expected.

    • april says:

      Great posts from both of you! My experience was similar to yours.

  24. LA says:

    My parents fought constantly (married until he died). I make a conscious effort to fight as little as possible with my husband full stop. I watched that growing up and didn’t want it. That said, everyone argues sometimes, and we’ve definitely argued in front of our kids.

  25. Pusspants says:

    I’m shocked no one has commented on Tim McGraw’s bod. Holy sh*t he’s in great shape!

  26. chitowner says:

    I would say there’s a difference between disagreements and arguments/fights and that whether or not it’s bad for kids to see them, depends on their nature. How are kids supposed to learn how to resolve disagreements or fight in a healthy way if they never see it?