When toddlers intervene when their parents are fighting

 I think it goes without saying that all couples fight. Therefore, it would also be true that all parents fight. Sometimes, the fights are about substantial matters, like what path forward to move your child into, money, career, etc. Other times, they’re about a whole lot of nothing. In our cases, it’s usually about a misinterpretation over something said/insinuated, or about the method of arguing in itself. Chris likes to assume he’s always right, and he gets extremely defensive when I point out something he does that I don’t like or disagree with. I tell him that he needs to stop for a moment and actually think about what I’m critiquing about him instead of just simply denying it and attacking me back. He doesn’t. And the argument goes on. 

I think about my childhood a lot when I think about the way I am. It’s a bit Freudian to say, but most of the reasons we think the way we think and do as we do are rooted in how we were raised. Growing up, because I was in an environment where I was pretty much constantly criticized by my parents for the most benign or inane things, criticism was like having paint on the walls — it was just always there, like the furniture. And so because of that, when I do get any type of critique, I’m more likely than Chris to think about the validity of the critique and how true it actually is. I do not¬†immediately¬†assume it’s true, but I also do not immediately deny its validity.

Kaia always knows when we’re arguing or having a heated discussion. She clearly gets in the middle of fights over toys and the related at school, and she parrots what her teacher says while we’re arguing: “Stop it right now!” “Knock it off!” “Stop it, everyone!” “No, no, no!” “Everybody, CALM DOWN!” More often than not, Kaia intervening serves as comic relief. But other times, I wonder what impact listening to our arguing really has on her. In the realm of arguing, I’d probably say that our arguing is “low impact,” as in, low overall toxicity. But there’s always the question of: how do you model good arguing and conflict resolution to your child so that she grows up to argue in a rational, well-thought-out, relatively respectable way? An argument in a healthy relationship is supposed to have a resolution of some sort. So if we don’t have a real resolution that effects change moving forward, are we actually modeling healthy arguing to her? This is likely a work in progress, especially as she is developing her language and comprehension skills every day. If there is any motivation to changing how we argue and how we resolve conflicts, then she should be the motivator.

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