When telling people that we have twins, the most common response we get from people that have zero or one child is: “Wow… I don’t know how you did it?!?”
The most common answers we usually give are: a) we didn’t have a choice, or b) we didn’t know any better.
These answers are both tongue-and-cheek and also 100-percent true.
The twins are now age 5 and thus the physical, sleep-deprived and taxing days of childcare are in the past. The kids are independent little men and can fend for themselves for ten to twenty minutes or even hours without active, micromanaged physical care.
Because they are independent, this does not mean that the parenting questions, discussions and dialogue about how to parent and mold our children ever cease. One could argue that we talk more about parenting now, than we did when they were infants. The dialogue about them with my wife has not decreased in frequency, but only shifted more towards deeper topics. When once we were discussing who’s turn it was to wake up with a child for a middle-of-the-night feeding, now we are discussing if they need to be scolded for bullying or if they need to have a lesson about perspective. These questions, discussions and arguments that happen are present with all parents and not just parents of twins.
Here is a list of five common things parents argue about:
- 1 – Money – Each year this issue has contributed to causing more divorces than any other issue for married couples. This is a relative category though, because many arguments about money are caused by deeper issues. Money arguments more often have to do with control, trust and power. With parenting, money issues are not unlike money arguments that occur between dating couples and newlyweds. Kids are expensive. When expenses come up unexpectedly, more stress is put on the relationship and the family. There are questions on how extravagantly or frugally to live. There are questions about brand name clothes, toys, birthday parties, vacations and weekly entertainment. The decisions we make during one day are endless and most of those decisions have an associated cost. This is an important topic however, because how parents decide to spend their money will be directly be setting an example for how your kids may choose to spend their money when they are older.
- 2 – Discipline – The common discipline topic for parents of young children to broach is whether or not you will spank your children. I’m not going to discuss my view on that as it is a very personal choice. However, there are many more aspects that come up in regards to discipline on an every day basis that have nothing to do with spanking. One key that we have tried to instill in our children is that good behavior will be rewarded and bad behavior will be punished and not tolerated. We talk about rewards like ice cream, movies at the theater or sporting events as they are happening and explain to the kids why they are being rewarded and do the same when they are being punished. Sometimes we are not on the same page when deciding whether or not someone should be rewarded or punished. There are many “discussions” about whether the kids are acting immaturely because they are kids or whether or not corrective action is required to teach a lesson. Much of our parenting dialogue nowadays, with the kids at age 5, has to do with discipline.
- 3 – Delegation – Much like money, delegation of parenting duties and assignments can lead to deeper rooting underlying issues about relationship roles and power. Some of these delegation type questions work themselves out without much discussion. For example, who will be the same at home parent? Can we afford a stay at home parent? Will the child attend daycare? Can we afford daycare? Do you prefer to wake up in the morning with the baby or stay up at night with the baby? These questions can most often be answered in logical and pragmatic ways by happy couples with the best interest of their family in mind. However some delegation roles develop over time. With the twins, I know I have a personality more like one of my sons and I know how to handle his personality better than my wife. Conversely, she has become the disciplinarian for the child that most closely matches her personality. This is not how we planned on disciplining our children, however over time, we’ve seen how each child has responded to each parent and made subtle discipline delegation changes. This decision was not an easy decision to make and came with much “dialogue”. The delegation of parenting duties is an always evolving animal. Our home life delegation of duties is poised to change again in August when our twins transition from daycare to full day kindergarten.
- 4 – Family Involvement – Couples without children most often get a taste of this discussion prior to children arriving. There are issues about visiting people in-state and out-of-state. There are issues about who to visit during weekends, vacations, holidays, birthdays and summer breaks. There are issues about grandparents and family members giving advice to you and how to process, discuss and figure out if the advice is well-founded or helpful. There are issues with family members disciplining your children differently than you discipline your children. These are especially sensitive topics because each parent has built up pride and responsibility for defending their own family and turf wars are likely to be present from time to time.
- 5 – Diet/Fitness/Exposure to Electronics – This topic may be the newest hot-button issue for parents to discuss and have an open dialogue about compared to the other aforementioned issues. In this new information age of computers, Facebook, Twitter and iPads, kids don’t grow up in the same environment we grew up in. I remember in grade school coming home from school and playing touch or tackle football with the neighbor kids from the time school let out to the time the sun went down. While Atari, Nintendo and Sega Genesis, began to be introduced to society when we were kids, electronics were not nearly the phenomenon and part of life it is today. While it would be easy to say that kids are different these days and this generation is too addicted to electronics, it could also be shortsighted to say that kids should have absolutely zero exposure to television, computers and smart phones. A child that doesn’t have exposure to these devices at an early age may be at a disadvantage in school and society as these devices are integral to our lifestyles in 2014 and beyond. Related to this technology discussion comes the discussion of how to eat, what to eat and when to eat. Also due to the sedentary nature of this electronic world, discussions about fitness levels, obesity and how to set a body image example for your children have been broached by caring and educated parents.
This is not an all-inclusive list, but does touch on many common issues that parents argue about. New couples, without children, can find many similarities in the arguments. This is the advantage we have as parents. Many of these topics have already been discussed, pre-children.
Take advantage of these discussions pre-children. It would behoove you to use this discussions to frame your thoughts on what type of parent you hope to be and how you hope to achieve your parenting goals. My wife and I are always reminding one another that while some arguments with each other are legit arguments, the overwhelming majority of are disagreements are discussions and open dialogues towards framing our parenting styles and goals. Parents that have discussions related to the common issues discussed above are caring parents. It would be weird and scary to have not disagreed in regards to any of the five topics listed above.
Do any of these arguments ring a bell or hit close to home? How do you discuss these issues with your significant other? What topics are hot-button discussions with you that did not make the list?