At the end of October, my son will be 18 months old. He grows more observant every day, adding new vocabulary and interests by the minute. Recently, my most joyful moments are filled with his laughter and discovering new curiosities together. I’m most impressed with his amusing humor, as he puts things on his head to make me laugh or makes every object a phone.
It’s exciting and scary to see how much he picks up in a day. Lately, while pointing my finger, I’ll scold, “No, don’t throw that.” or “Be gentle with the dogs.” Immediately, he’ll point back, smirking, “No.” It’s no wonder he smiles as he does it because I can never keep a straight face. So, of course, he’s learned.
It makes me wonder what he has already observed of our marriage. Co-authors of Nurture Shock, Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman, state:
“What this means is that parents who pause mid-argument to take it upstairs–to spare the children–might be making the situation far worse, especially if they forget to tell their kids, “Hey, we worked it out.” [Dr. E. Mark] Cummings has also found that when couples have arguments entirely away from the kids, the kids might not have seen any of it but are still well aware of it, despite not knowing any specifics. | Cummings recently has shown that being exposed to constructive marital conflict can actually be good for children–if it doesn’t escalate, insults are avoided, and the dispute is resolved with affection. This improves their sense of security, over time, and increases their prosocial behavior at school as rated by teachers.” (p. 185)
I was most profoundly convicted by Cummings’ challenge to not escalate the conflict or use insults and resolve it with affection. I’m more of a conflict avoider. When it arises, I tend to avoid it or somehow make it explode. It’s a great combination. I make life super easy for my husband.
Now, as a parent, I’m more motivated to be a good example for my son. First, this means I have to learn to manage conflict better myself before I can somehow teach it.
May my vow to my son today be:
- To be more patient
- To identify and name what I’m feeling so I can teach you about your own emotions
- To speak kindly and respectfully to you and your dad
- To be walk through conflict with your dad when I want to walk away from it
- To commit to resolving any conflict you’ve witnessed in front of you
- To laugh with you every day
- To celebrate the smallest details of our day together
- To not be afraid to tell you No
- To study you and your interests so I can know you more
- To be quick to forgive and ask for forgiveness
I love you, my dear boy.
Photo by Betsy Markwald https://www.betsymarkwaldphotography.com/