Sunshine and I got into a heated argument a couple weeks back. Unusual, I know. What’s worse is that it happened in the morning in front of the girls, pretty much ruining everybody’s day.
The argument escalated quickly, as is the case most of the time we argue. Normally it’s not a “slow build”, but rather one or two things set off one person who then throws a hurtful barb or comment to the other than then BAM~!! Full-blown argument with a ton of anger.
Thankfully, this is not a common occurrence. Sunshine and I have the most solid relationship I’ve ever had in my life…I’m certainly not worried about the occasional argument. I’m also not worried about how we deal with the arguments, as we normally calm down a bit and discuss not only the details of the argument, but the real underlying issues that led to the escalation in the first place.
In this particular instance, it was a difference of opinion. It wasn’t just a difference of opinion, though…it was a difference of opinion on how to raise the girls.
Now I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t have any real right to impose my thoughts and/or feelings on how to raise the girls onto them or Sunshine, so this isn’t about what I think is right or wrong. It’s about how we express these opinions and the reactions we develop from them.
Sunshine is defensive about what she perceives as criticism about her parenting style. And you know what? That’s completely valid on her part. They are her children and she can choose to raise them in whatever way she wants to. If somebody questions her choices, then she has every right to get defensive…I certainly do when it comes to my own children.
I’m a little harder on the girls than I probably should be. I don’t “drop the hammer down” or anything, but I’m not as laissez faire or carefree as Sunshine or her ex-husband is when it comes to raising the girls. That’s absolutely NOT a knock against them, either. To me, it’s just how I would describe their parenting style.
It’s tough to sit back and not give my opinions on certain situations, and sometimes my opinions don’t come out the way they’re intended. That was the case when Sunshine told me that one of her girls was going to stay home because her stomach wasn’t feeling great. I immediately questioned it, because she seemed fine to me. That, I realize, was a mistake on my part because now I wasn’t only questioning the authenticity of how the child felt, but I was questioning the parental decision by Sunshine to let her stay home.
This, in turn, escalated into the nasty argument. I attempted to explain that I felt the way I felt because of how I was raised: when it came to my parents, you went to school unless you were SICK. Whether that’s a good or bad thing, that’s how I was raised as a kid and that’s how I’ve continued on as an adult: I go to work unless I’m REALLY sick. To me, it was a lesson that I learned as a child and it helped me grow as an adult.
But again…that’s simply my opinion. Another view or decision is also completely legitimate, it’s just different from mine.
There are definitely other ways the conversation could have gone. I didn’t have to be so sarcastic in my “…if she’s sick, then she’s sick…” comments and Sunshine didn’t have to attack my father’s parenting style. We also should have reigned it in long enough to get the girls to school so that they didn’t have to see or hear what transpired.
Again, we were able to work out the issue that day (before noon, if I’m not mistaken), but it was definitely a learning situation for both of us on how to handle issues like this on a go-forward basis.
Differences of opinions happen in all relationships. The key to building better relationships is finding a way to communicate those differences in a way that encourages conversation, not confrontation.
Obviously, we’re both still working on that.