Among all the parenting rules in the book, no quarreling in front of the kids must rank pretty high up there. But, it’s the one that my husband and I have been flouting a lot lately, when our little five-year-old is around. And while we don’t choose to quarrel in full view of Sophie, arguments sometimes get over heated with voices raised and a quarrel ensnares. And when our voices rise, Sophie catches our bickering.
As much as we try to avoid conflict in our marriage, this is real life, where we have our failings keeping our tempers in check. As they say, familiarity breeds contempt.
I’m not proud that my daughter has to witness it, especially since she has a sensitive soul and picks up on the negative vibes quickly. And it’s even worse, when she thinks that mummy and daddy don’t love each other anymore because of our quarreling.
Last week, hubby and I had a heated arrangement over my complete lack of organizational abilities, which sent me flying into a rage because I was already halfway through packing. With more to and fro with his expectations and my explanations, neither was ready to step back or cool off. Before we knew it, there was a shouting match.
Sophie heard the commotion and came to my room and from the corner of my eye I could see her fear.
Intermittently, my little one even jumped to my defense and told daddy to stop scolding me because I was already trying my best to pack. Her words, though comforting, also felt like a sting and made me feel so guilty that she had to see the two people that she loved most in such an ugly argument. After I calmed down, hubby finally decided to help me pack as well and we both got working.
After 15 minutes little Sophie came back with a smile on her face and said:
See mummy and daddy you’re working together. You are a team now.
Those are words of gold coming from my five-year-old.
After we were done packing, we gave each other hi-fives for work well done. I even apologized for my lousy attitude to hubby and thanked him for helping, making sure that it was within Sophie’s ear-shot. I could see her beaming away.
As a mum, I sometimes forget that kids learn what they see and not what they hear. As much as we try to teach them to behave in a certain way, it’s what we model that will be a standard for them. And while quarreling in front of the kids is still a no no in my opinion, children learn that parents are also human. Parents can make mistakes but what matters is having the humility to apologize and ask for forgiveness.
At the end of the day, we are far from being perfect and can only endeavor to be better dads or mums for our kids.
This is an original post for World Moms Blog from our writer in Singapore, Susan Koh of A Juggling Mom.
The image used in this post is credited to Matt Smith and holds a Flickr Creative Commons attribution license.