If you take any two humans and put them together, after a while, I promise you they will need to deal with some kind of conflict. Conflict isn’t the issue. It’s how we deal with inevitable conflict that’s important. Aft er all, that is the essence of “cooperating,” isn’t it? How will we cooperate and function together, given our inherent differences?
Open respectful discourse that ends in a resolution all parties can accept, even if it’s simply to agree to disagree, is healthy. Kids see that mom and dad get angry with one another, but most importantly, that they still love each other and they resolve their issues.
That is effective parenting. This doesn’t mean I invite you to have a hissy fit and scream at your partner over his upset at the $ 100-night cream you just bought. But for all those good mothers out there who just went pale at the thought of the damage they inflicted during last night’s angry spat: RELAX! This not yet another example of something you now have to strive to do perfectly. Modelling great relationship skills means living in reality: arguments happen, people become frustrated and angry, and not every situation is handled perfectly. But when you start from the base of loving, respecting, and caring for your partner, you are teaching your children not only the reality that nothing is perfect but also how to resolve tough issues.
Trish and Darren had an argument about spending money on a large house expense. The disagreement was about whether repairing the broken pool was discretionary spending or essential. Th ey were both passionate about their polarized points of view on this matter. Trish could feel herself ramping up to explode in response to the feeling that she was losing the argument. In the end, they hugged and apologized for letting things get out of hand, and decided they could solve this better if they weren’t fighting about it. Th ey both wanted the same thing, they just needed to find a good path to get there. Th ey managed to move it out of the personal and into problem-solving. Their children were okay with the short explosion when they saw that their parents had been able to calm down and were now working toward a win/win resolution.