Tag Archives: fatherhood

Parenting is a Battlefield

My husband and I faced each other across the lounge room. My muscles were tense and I could feel the burn in my cheeks. “Well, what do you think we should do?” I demanded.

“Look,” my husband began. His voice was raised, but he was holding himself back from shouting. “It’s his end of school trip. I’ll just give him the money.”

“What do you mean you’ll ‘just give him the money’?” My temperature was rising by the moment. “He had the money. He chose to spend it on other things. If you give him more, what does it teach him?”

“It teaches him that he can come to me when he has problems!”

I huffed in frustration. “No, it teaches him that he can act irresponsibly and you’ll bail him out! What are you going to do when he spends all his money on beer? Are you going to pay his rent for him, too?”

“Of course!” He was almost yelling now. “Wouldn’t you?”

My hands were shaking. So was the rest of my body. I took a deep breath and tried to calm down. My husband did the same. Once we’d both composed ourselves, I spoke up. “Look, the point is that we have a responsibility to teach him how to handle money. If we tell him he needs to save his money for his high school graduation trip and he spends it on other things, we can’t just give him more money. Yes, it sucks that he’ll miss out. But he needs to learn to be responsible.”

My husband was speaking calmly; reasonably. “It’s his end of school trip. It’s a big deal. If he misses out on it, he’ll regret it for the rest of his life. We can’t tell him he’s not allowed to go just because we don’t want to give him the money.”

“It’s not about whether we want to give him the money,” I answered. My new-found calm was rapidly deteriorating. “It’s about teaching him to be responsible.” I forced myself to take a deep breath. “Look, the situation probably won’t even come up. I’m sure he won’t spend his money on other things anyway.”

We stared at each other for a minute. Maybe two. Then my husband said, “Let’s just… drop it. Okay?”

“Okay,” I said.

And we went our separate ways for a time. We could afford to do that. It’s not like our son was graduating high school the next day. In fact, he wasn’t graduating from anything any time soon. He was barely a year old, and happily sleeping the sleep of a contented toddler in his bedroom.

If you’re not a parent, you may be wondering at this point why we were even arguing.

But if you are a parent, you understand. When you’re co-parenting children, you argue about everything. All the time. Even the hypothetical stuff. Especially the hypothetical stuff.

No one tells you that before you sign on the dotted line. No one warns you. No one says, “Now that the two of you are solely responsible for the health, happiness and wellbeing of this little person, you will discover that you have differing opinions on almost every aspect of child-rearing and family life. Be prepared to argue your point of view with a passion and intensity you didn’t even know you could feel.”

Let me just clarify that.

You probably don’t have differing opinions on the big stuff. (At least, my husband and I don’t.) When it’s a question of values and beliefs, you’re probably pretty well aligned — or, at the very least, you’ve discussed how your differences will be managed. No, the differing opinions are with the “little” things. The everyday things. The things that, it turns out, are much bigger than the big stuff.

Do the children have to stay at the dinner table until everyone’s finished eating, or can they be excused when they’re finished? Do the children have a set bedtime or do they go to bed when they’re tired? How is pocket money handled? How old do they have to be before they can play outside by themselves? Or cross the road alone? Or travel on public transport?

Sometimes you won’t argue. Sometimes you’ll be astonished to find you share the same opinion. But those times will feel rarer than hens’ teeth. Embrace them when you can. And when you don’t agree? Find a way to compromise. Just remember that you’re both arguing from a point of love. You’re all on the journey of life together, and somehow you will find a way to make it work.

And that’s what really matters.

Hand in Hand

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Filed under Life With Kids, Opinion

Monday’s Top 5

First off the rank this week is a guest post from Joe Bunting on Write It Sideways. In his post — Which Comes First: Conflict or Characterization? — he suggests writers should figure out all the conflict before you start on characterisation, because “if you have to be mean, why not do it to a stranger?”. I don’t really agree with his methodology (but I’m also terrible at plotting before I start writing), but it’s an interesting article, and has prompted some great discussion in the comments.

On the other hand, perhaps trying a different method would help me avoid the Barbie Jeep Method of First Drafts that Laura Stanfill wrote about this week. It all felt a bit too familiar when I read the line: “There’s a great sense of motion and accomplishment that, apparently, is missing when she tries a slower, more methodical approach.”

This week, of course, one of the biggest news stories was the death of Steve Jobs. I read a lot of quotes, blogs, and articles about him as a man and as a creative genius. I have to admit: I don’t own a single Apple product. I don’t have an iPhone, or an iPod, or iAnything, and it’s at least 15 years since I last touched a Mac. But, even with Apple affecting my life as little as it seems to, I’ve always felt a certain indefinable kinship with the company. (It doesn’t have to make sense. Leave me alone.) The tribute that I most empathised with was written by author Yuvi Zalkow, and finishes: “I don’t know shit about the man, but these things he envisioned open doors for our stories to be told.”

I had a good I-hear-ya-sister chuckle at Stephanie’s post on Momma Be Thy Name when she wrote: “After the twins arrived, I envisioned them sleeping together peacefully inside a pea pod, or a basket, or dressed in bumblebee costumes, surrounded by puffs of tulle and bathed in soft light. What we actually have are two babies who alternate between using each other as step stools and using each other as punching bags.” Go check out her post, Damn You, Anne Geddes.

Last but not least, I came across this blog via Bridget of Twinisms fame, and have fallen instantly and irrevocably in love with it. Stuff Boys Do is a great blog written by a Dad with three young sons. This week’s super-hilarious post is all about boys worrying about robbers. If I didn’t know better, I’d think it was written about 4-year-old Big Brother.

“What if robbers wanted to take our piggy banks and all our toys but some of the toys were painted but some were not painted, would the robbers take only the painted toys or do they take toys that are not painted or only painted ones?”

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Guest Post: Happy Father’s Day

 

Here in Australia, we celebrate Father’s Day on the 1st Sunday of September. Today’s guest post is brought to you by 4-year-old Big Brother.

 

This is a picture of Daddy if he had big elephant ears. One of his ears is normal and the other one is folded over, that's why it's smaller. I have big elephant ears too, and I'm holding hands with Baby.

 

This is a picture of a funny, scary present. It has an elephant's body, zombie arms and legs, zombie ears, ear-rings, a mean mouth, a honky nose, Googoo Goggles, and mean eyes. Daddy will think it's so funny!

 

This picture is funny because I put some of the letters the wrong way. Daddy will have to be upside down to read it!

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Filed under Life With Kids, Random Stuff