Parenting Conflict? Make Sure Your Kid Wins

father and daughter playing video games

When my husband and I hear a song on the radio and can't remember the artist, he's the first one online looking up the answer, letting me know that he's the one who got it right. Me, I'm usually content to wait out any disagreements, preferring to let him discover later on just how right I was. Competitive or noncompetitive, what's good is that, when either of us is wrong, we typically just shrug and make a joke. Not having to win is a pretty good quality when one is part of a couple, especially when that couple has to parent together and, by the way, also wants to stay in love. We've disagreed plenty over the years about child-rearing issues—and still do. Yet we usually manage to be sure that it's the kids who win in the end.

When our eldest son began sleeping in a bed, I would read a book with him, indulge in some snuggling, give him a hug and switch off the light. And he was happy with this. But when Frank had bedtime duty, which was three or four nights a week, he tucked the tyke in so tight I wondered if the child could move. Bad move, I said and, sure enough, it took only a few weeks until my son insisted I tuck him in, too, or else fetch Dad, the champion tucker-inner. When the toddler began appearing at our bedside at 1 or 4 a.m., pleading for us to tuck him back in, I mostly refused, figuring that Frank had started this, and so could deal with it. Thus began a cycle of nocturnal re-tucks. Occasionally, Frank groaned about it but, secretly, I think he liked that there was one nurturing thing he'd initiated, did better than me and could continue.

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