Follow along as Today’s Parent contributor Lisa van de Geyn weighs in on parenting issues and life with her two young daughters. Stay tuned for occasional posts from her husband Peter as he shares parenting stories from his point on view.
Like most couples, Peter and I have fought about some completely asinine things since we met 11 years ago. There was the time when we worked together (before "getting together") when I didn't talk to him for three days because he refused to help me — a junior teammate — put together sales kits (assembly-line style) in the company's sweaty warehouse. We once fought about me picking food off his plate in restaurants. (I don't want fries. I want his fries.) We've had it out over what to order on pizza. We've fought about golf (I think there's too much; he thinks there's not enough). We've also argued about normal all-couples-argue-about-these-things things, like family stuff, money, family stuff, money and family stuff.
But that was then. These days, every argument (read: spat, fight, brawl) we have seems to centre around our kids — nay, it seems to be about the way we're parenting our kids.
Like last night. I had repeatedly asked Addy to go pee before bed, and repeatedly asked Peyton to stop throwing Addy's pillows. When neither of them listened to me, Peter yelled from the shower, "If you don't do what Mommy says in three seconds, you can both sleep in the basement tonight." Five minutes later, Peyton was tantruming (it's a verb in our house) and kicking Peter as he was trying to put on her pull-up, and he said, "Quit that Peyton, or I'll give your bedroom away and you'll sleep in the bathtub from now on."
If there's one thing I can't stand, it's when Peter tosses idle threats at the kids. It drives me completely nuts (it's just so mean, and never helps the situation), and the kids don't buy it at all — like we'd ever let them sleep in our unfinished basement or in the bathtub. I end up getting mad at Peter, he gets mad at me for not backing up his shenanigans, and we end up ticked, which is when, I admit, I end up swearing.
If there's one thing Peter can't stand, it's when I curse around the four little ears in our house.
So we, inevitably, fight over that.
I think yelling idle threats at the kids is terrible parenting, and way worse than my sometimes-trucker mouth. He thinks swearing in front of the kids is terrible parenting, and way worse than his ridiculous threats.
I get upset when he refuses to let the kids watch their show and puts on golf (see! golf!) instead. He gets upset when Peyton's tantruming and I give in.
I get mad when he tunes everything out (usually while watching… golf) and ignores/doesn't intervene when the kids are fighting right in front of him. He gets mad when I don't have a whole lot of patience when the kids do things that kids do (like make a mess right after I've tidied up).
And so on.
It occurs to me now that we never really discussed how we'd parent when we became parents. We talked a bit about how we'd handle our differing religions (like how we'd celebrate both Christmas and Hanukkah), and how we disagreed on both the kids getting a car when they turned 16 (Peter's for, I'm against) and leaving the province to go away for university (Peter's for, I'm — albeit selfishly — against). But we never went over the nitty-gritty — like how we'd handle discipline (would we use time-outs, or grounding, or spanking?), how much we'd spend on birthdays and holidays, whether our kids would do chores (Peter's family enforced chores, mine didn't), how much we'd be influenced by family, etc.
So now, we end up arguing about much tougher, much more serious issues than what to order on our pizza.
What do you do when you don't agree with your partner's parenting strategies?
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