My husband and I had an argument last week.
Not about anything major; nothing that was life-altering. There was no name-calling; no shouting. No degrading occurred of each other (we don't play like that anyway). It was just a small argument, about a small topic, that occurred in a small window of our evening together.
And we allowed our children to stay in the room while it all went down.
That's right. They were right there.
No one was asked to leave the room. There were no hand gestures exchanged between my husband and me to stop the conversation due to the children sharing the same space as us.
We stood in that room. Had our argument. Came to a conclusion. And the evening continued on.
But why did we allow our children to be in that space while my husband and I argued?
So that they could see us come to that conclusion. Amicably. Without anyone stomping out. Without slamming doors. Without any shouting, degrading, or verbalizing of things that we would just regret when we woke up the next day.
We showed them what a healthy disagreement looks like.
We showed them what agreeing and finding a solution looks like.
We showed them that you can still love someone, without always having the same viewpoint.
We showed them how you can disagree with those you love, without hurting those you love.
Friends, we are living in a generation where we want to shield our children from everything. We do not want them to feel any emotional pain; we do not want them to experience any struggle. We work tirelessly, day in and day out, perfecting a most perfect childhood for their most perfect little hearts. We live our days endlessly carving out nothing short of what we hope will be long lasting memories for our children, filled with nothing less than unicorns, butterflies, and rainbows.
But here's the problem with that: Our children eventually need to become adults.
(No matter how much we resist Father Time, our babies will not be babies forever.)
Someday soon (in what will feel like a blink of an eye) your children are going to be grown adults, perhaps enter into (what we hope will be) a happy marriage. They may even have children, a white picket fence and a dog. Let's never forget the dog.
But what have we taught our children about marriage? Have we given them a realistic viewpoint of what a healthy one looks like?
Or have we have given them the version of marriage where no one ever argues, no one ever gets frustrated, no one ever has a differing opinion? Are we hiding those facets of marriage from our children? If so, what happens then when they themselves experience those hard emotions within their own relationships?
They are going to feel like they are failing.
They are going to feel like they are doing something wrong.
They are going to think: "This is not what it looked like for my parents."
They are going to think that they are not capable of being a half of a healthy marriage because they do not know what a healthy marriage looks like.
Parents, allow your children to see the tough times.
(Necessary side note: I am in no way encouraging that you involve your children in adult matters. Please listen to me when I say that you must use your own mature discretion as to what disagreements can occur during dinner time prep, and what disagreements have to wait to occur behind the closed door of the laundry room, once you are certain that your little's hearts have long fallen asleep. But I'm sure you already knew that anyway.)
So allow them to see the tough times. The moments where mom and dad may not have agreed on something, so they talked about it while setting the dinner table, it was resolved before everyone sat down, and they still held hands while they prayed over their meal.
For it's that moment, the hand-holding moment, that your child will notice. It is that moment that they must see.
For they will quickly learn that no matter how many times their father continues to put the wrong item in the wrong recycling bin.
The love continues on long after the disagreement.
Never the other way around.