Friday, August 12, 2011

Communication Opportunity

My husband and I often approach parenting from different angles.  This is not always a bad thing but it does usually lead to interesting and sometimes heated discussions. For example, last weekend we went hiking.  On our way to the canyon we stopped at a grocery store for snacks and because we are the "best parents ever" we also let #1 and #2 buy cap guns.  I am a nature novice so I thought the boys would be able to shoot them while we hiked.  That is one of the reasons why I agreed to the purchase.  I mean aren't you supposed to do that kind of thing in the wilderness?  Apparently not this wilderness.

Once we arrived at the trail head I began helping the boys load their guns.  My husband looked at us like we were crazy and asked why we were doing that since we couldn't play with them on the hike.  #1 immediately asked the question I was thinking, "Why can't we shoot them on the hike?"  His dad explained that the cap guns would disturb nature and we would not be able to see the animals because they would be scared of us.  This made sense.  I just had not considered it, so at this point hubby and I are still on the same parenting page, however #1 and #2 are not even in the same book.

What, Why and I want to's are coming out of their mouths in rapid succession.  My husband chooses to respond with, "It is not a good idea.  The answer is no."  I look at him and ask, "But couldn't they take the guns and if we find a place that they would not disturb nature then they can shoot them?"  And with that 
statement we are officially no longer in sync.

We step to the side of the van.  He thinks I am nuts.  Why would I tell them they could shoot the guns if it did not disturb nature?  We are in a National Forrest.  There is not a place for miles that they would not disturb nature.  I tell him that I know this, but I think that it is better for them to discover this truth rather than have it dictated to them.  He thinks my idea is hokey and that some things are just not okay and the answer is "no".  They need to learn that when we say no they should just say "yes sir and yes ma'am".

I state that I can see the value in that but I like to let them think through the process whenever possible.  I think that they will understand the fact that nature is surrounding us if they are trying to find a place without nature during our hike.  I think that it is easier to obey a rule that you understand and if you understand then you can apply the knowledge next time the scenario pops up. 

In the end we saw that we both agreed that the cap guns should not be shot on the hike but we had two very different ways of teaching this to our kids.  We agreed to disagree and went on with our day.  There was not a blatant right or wrong answer.  It is true that I probably over talk some situations and that he under talks some.  Is one better?  Is one worse? I don't know.  But I do know that I am thankful that this communication opportunity did not ruin our day.

If you are parenting with a partner it is important that you are able to discuss parenting strategies.  Sometimes you will agree and sometimes you will not, but I can promise that you that 100% of the time it will stretch your communication skills.  Try not to belittle your partner or make them feel stupid just to make your side of the discussion seem stronger.  Recognize that you both love your child and want a good outcome.  If this means you need to pull in a neutral third party to help, so be it.  I think mediators can be a great help.  Someone who is not emotionally vested in the issue can often see the best solution quickly and clearly.

The hike was fun, we found a place to shoot the guns afterwards and no one called a divorce attorney.  Another successful Saturday in the books!

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