Arguing in Front of the Kids

This post also appeared on in the opinion section of the Cape Cod Times, a division of Ottaway Newspapers, Inc.

“Don’t argue in front of the children!!!”

That’s a line you hear all too often. Never argue in front of the kids. Because as we all know, kids will wither and fade away right on the spot if they hear any kind of arguing going on between their parents right? It’ll be therapy galore, costly shrinks and from that point forward we — as parents — will be responsible for all their future failures. All because they heard their parents disagree.

As you probably guessed, I disagree with the people who make it a rule to never, ever, under any circumstances argue in front of their children. You see, my love for MJ is largely based on the fact that she doesn’t take any crap from me. In fact, if she thinks I’m wrong she immediately lets me know. And of course, the same is true for me. In light of this fact, we tend to argue a lot. Now before you go thinking that’s a bad thing, hear me out…

I love to argue. In fact, I NEED to argue with MJ in order to stay married to her. The very worst thing you can be in my eyes, is boring. Boring people with no backbone and the inability to stand up for themselves and what they believe in really piss me off. In fact sometimes I disagree with MJ on purpose just to get her riled up so she’ll argue with me. I think it’s hot. She probably thinks it’s just annoying but that’s OK, it’s just another thing to argue about.

Because really, what’s the alternative? Agreeing all the time? That would be the worst possible thing on Earth! Can you imagine being with someone you ALWAYS agree with? That would be hell. And while I know full well some people think MJ and I argue too much and they probably believe it erodes our marriage, they couldn’t be more wrong. In fact, I know some couples who claim they never fight. And I actually believe them. For whatever reason, they completely avoid any and all conflict and they calmly and rationally go about their business.

But you know what? I think those people are the unhealthy ones. I mean c’mon, how can you not have it out with your significant other every now and then? It’s cathartic for God’s sake. Sometimes you just need to get into it and let the shit fly. Go at each other, let all that stuff that’s been simmering out of the pot. Throw some haymakers (metaphorical verbal haymakers, not actual punches) and clear the air.

In fact, I’d recommend treating it like the weather. You know those times when it’s dark, gloomy and rainy for a whole week. It’s drizzling rain and you wish it would either stop or just come down in buckets so it would be over with already. That’s unbearable. Isn’t it better to just have a raging, crazy monsoon-esque thunderstorm with lots of rumbles and lightning and then let the storm pass? You know what the air is like after a big storm. It’s clear and crisp and you always feel better after it passes.

But Aaron, what about your son? Don’t you care that he might be scarred for life if his parents are always sniping at each other?

The answer, in my opinion, is no. Now obviously I don’t think it’s a good idea for a child to witness violence between his parents. We’re not talking about extreme stuff like that. And if you’re fighting every single day then obviously there’s a problem because that’s not normal either. What I’m talking about is putting the gloves on every once in a while and sparring for a few rounds. And if the kid happens to see that, so be it. Children need to learn that adults can disagree, because I really think most parents tend to shelter the ever loving crap out of their kids to the point where eventually the kids are shocked when someone disagrees with them, since mommy and daddy have placated them, and each other, all of the kid’s life. But children should also see the making up part afterwards, including the apologies and the compromise that invariably come after the fight.

How else will they learn about this stuff if mommy and daddy act like Ozzie and Harriet all the frickin time? So yes, from time to time I will most likely argue with my wife in front of Will. And I don’t think that’s a bad thing.

Better alert DSS!

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