Today I argued with my husband. In front of our kids. We actually do this pretty often. Shocking, right? I doubt it. Most people argue in front of their kids, whether they realize it or not. And I think, depending on how you do it, it’s healthy to argue and healthier still to do it in front of your kids.
Kids need to see the adults in their life be upset, hurt, angry, sad. They need to see that it’s normal to have feelings because they have such strong and confusing feelings! They need to see how we handle them. We tell them not to hit when they are angry or not to throw things or yell. But is that what they see us do when we are angry? Or do they see their parents sharing a moment of frustration by talking about it and figuring out the problem before it festers and becomes a big deal?
Dex and Veda tell each other what they’re feeling when they are fighting. It may be while screaming. It may directly proceed hair pulling or pinching. But the very first thing they do is say “Veda, I’m really mad you took my x, y, z. I was playing with it first and I wasn’t done.” or “Dex, I’m so angry! You stepped on me when you were jumping/running/bouncing and it hurt.” Sometimes that’s all it takes and they move on right away. And sometimes the aforementioned hair pulling or pinching happens. They definitely don’t always do this but they do see the benefit when Kai and I disagree or tell each other how we feel and now they see it when they argue as well.
We can’t expect perfection out of ourselves or our children. We are all constantly learning how to be better people and growing into new people. But as parents it’s our responsibility to teach our children how to accept the learning process and how to strive to be better people. A huge part of that is recognizing our feelings and not being afraid to share them. Not being afraid to disagree with someone or bring up something that bothered you.
Something to keep in mind during the holidays when tensions run high and you are thrown together with the people who push your buttons the hardest: the second step to not being afraid to disagree is recognizing when it’s better to let something go. I like to ask myself if I feel the need to bring something up to be truly helpful, because I want to feel better, or because I want someone else to feel bad because I do. Do I just want them to know I’m angry/sad/hurt? If I bring this up will anything change? Will I still feel angry/sad/hurt? Is there anything they can actually say or do to fix it? Since I started asking myself those questions I let go of a lot more. I don’t need people to know every time I’m upset or every time I’m frustrated.
I’m thankful for a husband I can disagree with. Someone who helps me teach our children.