Parenting 15 – Never, Ever Ever, etc.

by Jeff Saferite on March 23, 2012

We live in one of the greatest neighborhoods a family could ask for. There are a lot of kids around and we have a lot of fun. The kids buzz around our house like bees do a bee hive. One Saturday we were cleaning the house in preparation for a party later that night when the neighborhood kids started circling our house wanting to play. We had our windows open because it was a nice day and the kids gathered outside asking Safari and Sojo to come out to play. They quickly ran to put on their shoes and took off outside.

When Robin came downstairs she asked where Safari and Sojo were going, to which I replied “Uhm….outside.”

This quickly drew an irritated Robin who told me she had already told them they could not go outside at the moment. I could not have disagreed more. The temperature was in the 70’s in the middle of winter! All the other kids were outside and there was a great time to be had for sure. Unfortunately Robin and I had to stay inside cleaning and for some reason Robin decided the other neighborhood parents could not watch our kids that day. This may seem like a normal and responsible parents response except for that the parents of our neighborhood ALWAYS share responsibility of watching one another’s kids. It is quite normal for us to watch the other kids while their parents are inside cleaning, cooking dinner and running errands.

Showtime
After a short but adamant disagreement between the two of us, Robin went out to get the kids. She was more upset coming back in than she was going out. Safari was crying and screaming at her, and Sojo was whining. To say the least it was pure chaos. Safari explained how much she disliked Robin and begged me to let her go outside.

It was above 70 degrees in the middle of winter, the kids had not been outside in a while, and we had to clean the house! Why in the world could they not go outside!?! This was the perfect storm for a showdown between Robin and I. Now instead of cleaning and enjoying this beautiful day (in the 70’s with windows open thinking it was spring), we are living in PURE and UTTER chaos. This was showtime!

Safari comes running to me with her “I’m daddy’s little girl” “Daddy please rescue me” act, telling me how mean mommy is and begging me to let her go outside. Everything in me knew this was logical! So what did I do?

Let me share another story before sharing the answer. Rather than being a special occasion, this story happens about once a week. I wake up every morning before sunrise to ensure I have time to pray and study before the kids wake up. Generally about the time the kids wake up I am in the middle of writing or responding to emails or blogs (right now Sojo is watching Diego while I type this).

Not so sweet daddy
The other day Safari was sitting at the table with me while I was writing a blog on how to be a good parents. Sojo had been asking me for breakfast and Safari needed to get ready for gymnastics, so I was trying to hurry and finish the blog. The pressure to get ready and Sojo’s begging for food was causing me to lose focus, but I “just had to” get this blog finished (as if the world would have stopped if I did not). Safari turns to me and asks, “Hey sweet daddy, what are we going to do today?” The loving father that I am turned to her and said, “I don’t know Safari but do you know how to not talk so much. Can’t you see dad is trying to work.”

Yep. She calls me sweet daddy and I tell her to shut up. All while writing a blog about how to be a good parent.

This was the perfect time for Robin to tell me to shut up. And she had every right to do so. So what do you think she did?

Seriously! Never, ever ever, etc.
Never, ever ever, ever ever ever, ever ever ever EVER side against your spouse in front of your children. As far as your children are concerned you are an unbreakable, inseparable team. Unless your spouse has a meltdown and starts chasing your child with a bat or something worse. Assuming your husband or wife is sane, never challenge their decisions in front of your children. The worst thing you can do is show your children they can put the two of you against one another.

How to live happily ever after
Instead of siding with Safari, I sat her in timeout for the way she talked to her mom. Later Robin and I had a conversation about the kids playing outside. The reality was that Robin was tired. She is a nurse and had worked three overnight shifts in a row. When Robin gets tired she can be silly. She knows this and tries to stay cautious of it, but she is not perfect.

Instead of telling me to shut up Robin took Safari away and told her not to bother me while I was working. As soon as I finished the  blog, Robin took me to my room and told me I needed to chill out. Then she made me go tell Safari sorry. I need to learn and am learning not to work in front of the kids as I hate being interrupted while working.

The reality is mom and dad are not always going to agree. Sometime we have to agree to disagree. Robin and I typically go with who said what first. In the event of the kids playing outside, Robin said they could not before I said they could. So I sided with her.

There will be other times when we are stressed, tired or in a funky mood and just make a bad decision. In the case of me rudely asking Safari if she had to talk so much, Robin deciphered that I needed Safari to leave me alone. So she took Safari away and then corrected me at a later time.

The important thing is that your children cannot divide the two of you. There is a strong possibility that one of you is weaker willed than the other, meaning you give in a lot easier. The kids will soon discover this if you are not careful. It was my mom in my home growing up. I was the punk child who caused his mom and dad to argue because I knew how to put them against one another. DON’T LET THIS HAPPEN in your home!!

 

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