At first, when our daughter was born we didn’t fight at all. There was no reason to fight, as she was usually a calm and happy baby. Everything changed when she was about four months old and started waking more and more during the night. The inexperienced mom lost faith in her parenting style and dad, as she felt, wasn’t much help. Accusations were thrown; articles about sleep training techniques were studied, learned by heart and discussed. There was no peace in the house and the situation stayed more or less the same until our baby girl has started to sleep through the night. More or less.
So what do you do if you feel you fight too often about kids?
Fighting Over Kids Is Normal
First of all, arguing about discipline and other children-related issues is completely normal and natural. I doubt many of you had agreed on a future parenting style before your baby was born. I doubt this is needful or even possible. There will always be another issue and you will forever be making amendments to your, er, family constitution. But if you think that you seem to argue too often or that the same issue keep popping up, you better do something about it along the way.
Present a Unified Front
This is probably the most popular advice to young parents, and rightly so. Do your best not to fight about the kids in front of the kids; if they’re little, it will only confuse them – remember, mom and dad are the pillars of their little world, and seeing parents fight too often will make them feel less secure, and if there is one thing which children need is a home that is secure and stable. On the other hand, older kids might use the situation to their interest, if not for their good. Mom says no? Let’s ask dad. Dad says no? But mommy said we can! It can also lead to feelings of guilt. Of course, we’re not talking about clear cases of physical or emotional abuse.
Discuss the Situation After the Storm has Passed
It won’t do trying to agree over ways of putting the baby to sleep while the baby is overtired and screaming. A screaming baby means a need to raise your voices, and the argument will sure turn into a fully-fledged fight, which will hardly help. First, put the baby to sleep. Somehow. Then, talk about it. You may agree to disagree, but whatever your final decision is, you better stick to it. As already said, emotional stability is important.
Don’t Fight About Marital Problems
There is a time to discuss your relationship, but this is not it. Some things should be kept private, and there is no reason for the kids to get involved in your marital issues. Avoid throwing accusations at each other while arguing about children and talk to the point. Phrases like: “This is so typical of you, you always…” will not solve the issue, and will definitely not help getting your relationship in shape.
There’s no way to avoid arguing completely, but there’s a way to do it right. This is what we usually call a constructive argument. Don’t badmouth, don’t shout or criticize your partner and do your best to resolve the argument as best as you can to calm things down.
Don’t Fake It Till You Make It
If you argued, don’t tell your children you didn’t. If you argued about them, don’t tell them otherwise. Eventually, they will find out that you lied, and do you really want to lose your child’s trust? Speak to your children about the argument and let them know that a fight is not the end of the world and that you are still a family and everything’s OK.
Step Back to Save Your Relationship
Let’s say mom is all for co-sleeping but dad is really, really against it. He can’t sleep well with the baby, there’s no room in the bed for three, etc. If you’re constantly fighting about this one issue, consider what might be at stake here. It might be wise to give up co-sleeping at this case. Respecting your partner’s wish doesn’t mean you’re choosing him over your child. It means balancing the needs of all the family members. There are many ways to express love, and baby will be just fine.
Anything You Can Do, I Can Do Better
How many times did we push our partner aside, claiming that he or she is doing the wrong way? But a way different from yours is not necessarily wrong, and even if you “do it better,” let your partner do it. Let them be the parent too. A child must spend time with both parents and get used to the fact that mom and dad have different ways of doing everything, from the fastest way of guiding little hands through long sleeves to reading the bedtime story. The same goes for gran’s way of doing things, by the way.