By: Heather van Mil
I have a secret to share, it’s been weighing on me for a long time. 5 years and 9 months to be exact – how long I’ve been a parent. I confess that….. I argue with my spouse in front of my children. (Pause for the collective gasp)
Just about any relationship or parenting advice will tell you that it’s important not to argue in front of your kids. I call BS. For 2 reasons. First of all is practicality. My husband and I often work opposite shifts, and in an effort to save money with no family living close by, one of us is almost always with the kids. The rare time we are both not working is bookmarked for family time. This means we very very rarely have time where we are without our ‘audience’ to have an argument in private. Our kids are too young for us to excuse ourselves to duke it out behind closed doors – our house would be destroyed and likely one of our kids injured in that time. So disagreements are out in the open in our place. However that isn’t the main reason. Practicality wouldn’t stop me if I truly thought something was wrong. The real reason I argue in front of my kids is that I believe it’s good for them.
Yes you heard me right. I think it’s healthy to argue in front of your kids. (Pause again for outraged exclamations). Let me preface my explanation by saying 1) I am not a trained therapist or counselor so take my opinions with a grain of salt and 2) by arguing I mean a healthy, sometimes passionate disagreement, not a down and dirty, top of the lungs, swearing, name calling kind of fight.
I’ve always thought that the ‘united parental front at all costs’ was not only ridiculous but impossible to maintain. I often disagree with my husband. Shocker! Surprisingly though, we can disagree with each other, debate our various sides (yes passionately at times), and work out a compromise, all in front of our kids! Bad parenting? No way! All I see is a healthy lesson in learning how people with differing views can work together. My children learn that no one is perfect in our house, parents included. They see our struggles and how we work to improve. They learn that it’s ok to make mistakes. Our house is a safe place because parents make mistakes, get called out for them, apologize and work to make it right. We are human. We stumble and fall and get back up again – not behind closed doors, but out in the open where they can see, hopefully learn and know that when they make mistakes, they don’t have to hide them because we don’t. We can learn and grow together as a family. Is that a parenting fail? I don’t think so.
Do tell, what’s your dirty little secret?
Heather van Mil is the sassy, somewhat sarcastic, seldom sanctimonious mama behind Life, Love and the Pursuit of Play. She is a freelance writer and blogger at Life, Love and the Pursuit of Play. On it she chases Good Food, Good Finds, Good Fun……and 2 small children (which translates to yummy recipes, awesome product review, fun places to check out, a smattering of op-eds and lots and lots of her 2 gorgeous girls!). Just in case this wasn’t enough, she has just launched her newest baby – Word of Mom Marketing – where she consults and strategizes with companies on the best practices and vehicles to reach and engage the young family market.