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Wednesday, August 1, 2012

United We Stand (Against the Children)

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In the years that my wife and I have been married nothing has caused greater contention and disagreement between us than our children.

Prior to our first son’s birth we had never really discussed parenting styles. We had talked about how strange it would be to be parents and how excited and nervous we were to bring a child into the world. Our discussions centered around names, how we would pay for another person, and how much we would love him. Again, however, we didn’t talk about how we would raise him.

When he was born I realized just how selfish I still was (I thought after a year and a half of marriage I had become pretty selfless). It frustrated me that I was now second in line for my wife’s time. I knew that while he was a newborn and infant it would have to be that way but I still didn’t like that. After a few months we needed to begin teaching him and preparing him for life. We began to establish little rules for him, things like don’t play in the toilet and don’t lick the electrical outlets, and teach him some sign language so that he could tell us he wanted more food or to say thank-you. This was the phase that the disagreements really started.

I felt that our son was exceptionally intelligent (I believe this is a typical opinion among parents) and that we could hold him to a higher standard than my wife did (she also thought he was intelligent she was just worried that I was being unrealistic). As our other children came along I continued to feel this way about each of them and over the years we have had to blend our parenting styles to accommodate one another and adapt them to each child. I have had to learn to be more lenient with the children and more patient. She has had to learn to enforce more discipline than she is naturally inclined to do. I adjusted to spending less time one-on-one with my wife. She learned to how to help me see when I am choosing the wrong battles with the children. But the key here is that we learned to work together and support one another.

Unity. That is the key. Yes, having children has increased the contention in our marriage. However, the unity has increased exponentially because of it. We see disagreements about parenting as opportunities to come closer and love each other more. We have begun to learn how to present a united front to the children and support one another in decisions (rules, punishments, and rewards). We are better individually and as a couple because we chose to have children and use parenthood to strengthen our marriage. We love our children, but more importantly, we love each other.
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