“Don’t talk like that mommy and daddy,” my three-year-old said.
I was taken aback. We were just bickering a little bit – the usual husband and wife banter about nonsense. We have another baby coming soon, so we have both been understandably stressed. I haven’t been feeling well either with a hacking cough and dental work on top of 36-weeks pregnant issues. It hasn’t been a time where we are relishing in “couple goals” or putting each other first. I mean our idea of romance lately is him picking a hair out of a mole on my cheek. Well during our disagreement, I had my usual annoyed-because-you-pissed-me-off tone. While my husband had his defensive-and-getting-annoyed tone. My daughter, on the other hand, was not having it.
Our eldest was getting upset. She could tell by the sound of our voices which wasn’t the lightness she is so accustomed to hearing from our mouths. She’s also very intuitive for her age. She’s used to us getting along most of the time—at least in front of her. We do banter at times (we are human and have littles!), but we try to keep our daughters only privy to a loving marriage filled with jokes and conversations that don’t take-a-turn-for-the-worse. If there is something that is a “hot button” topic, I don’t bring it up until later. At least most of the time, but parents are fallible too.
At that moment, we looked at each other. We were in the car driving to Target (because of course, we were). Our two baby girls were in the back seat.
I mouthed to my husband “we need to stop this.” He nodded. It was understood. And we moved on.
I couldn’t get that out of my head the rest of the day.
“Don’t talk like that mommy and daddy.”
It made me realize how much she is now understanding. If she can understand tone, she can understand everything, and I mean EVERYTHING. Also, it made me realize that I can’t bring up little grievances with my husband in front of her anymore if we are both going to get defensive. It’s not fair to her, and I don't want her to think this is how you talk to other people, especially other little people her age. There are many other ways to communicate, kindness being the number one way. I also don’t want her to feel frightened or unsafe by our confrontation—that’s when kids act out.
I am going to watch our tones and make sure we are discussing rather than getting heated. Once the heat comes out, we aren't accomplishing anything. We are both past rational, and it’s not healthy or productive for anyone.
The bottom line is that kids don't care who is right in a situation, and this is something I'll need to remind myself. Kids just want to feel safe and loved. I know I will choose the right time to engage (over pride) even if I am upset at the moment and really want to let him know.
It can wait if we can't choose to disagree healthily.