“We never argue” was the smug expression I often used about my relationships with my husband. You may notice that was written in the past tense…
We had a relatively short relationship before getting engaged – we had only been a couple for five months, although we’d been friends for seven years before that. During those years and all through our engagement and early marriage, I can honestly say I don’t think we argued once.
The hubster’s explanation for this is that he just wanted an easy life. My explanation is that, although there were occasional disagreements rather than full blown arguments, he usually came round to my way of thinking.
Until we had kids.
We absolutely agree on all the important issues, like education, health and immunisations, as well as there being general consensus on how we want our kids to behave.
The arguments arise around discipline. When it comes to ‘persuading’ the kids to behave, or do their homework, or stop playing on their tablets, hubster is the good cop, and I’m the bad cop. I always follow up on a threat, such as the kids having to go to bed early due to bad behaviour. He will often let the kids ‘earn back’ that time. I’m less forgiving perhaps.
This often results in my disciplining him, and he does not like that.
We are not alone. In most of the couples I’ve observed, there is one disciplinarian partner and the other lets the kids get away with just a little bit more… more sweets, more screen time, a slightly later bedtime.
And research by Care.com confirms my personal experience. One parent saying yes to a child, when the other has just said no, is amongst the top three things parents are most likely to disagree on.
In fact, the average parent argues eight times a month about bringing up the children. Dealing with discipline features regularly in the top ten reasons parents argue.
Here are the top 10 things parents are most likely to disagree on *
- How to discipline their child
- Giving in to tantrums
- One parent saying yes to a child when the other has already said no
- One not following through on a threat of punishment
- One parent shouting or being too strict
- Whether to let a baby cry or self-settle
- How much to spend on kids at birthdays and Christmas
- Immediately seeing to a crying baby
- Letting children sleep in their parents’ bed
- How to reward children.
Technology feels like the big catalyst for most of the arguments in our house: we’re all just trying to work it out as we go along; after all technology has become an issue for the first time for this generation of parents.
I’m just an amateur at this parenting business – aren’t we all – so I don’t have the answers. The best I can offer is ‘don’t sweat the small stuff’ – easy to say, less easy to live by.
* According to research by Care.com which polled 2000 parents aged 0-15 in the UK.