This new year, I asked my family if we could set a group resolution to bicker less. With the kids out of school over the holidays, and the holidays in general, that time of year is always a little more hectic for most people. Yet, it seemed more stressful than usual under our roof.
It got me thinking, how much bickering is normal?
If I’m being honest, it’s really bickering between my older son and my husband, and then as a result, between my husband and me. We do have different parenting styles, and that’s not always easy to balance. He travels for work quite often, so a lot of the time it’s just the boys and me, and I find that my older son does better with one parent in charge. It is an adjustment for everyone when the house is full again, and that’s when I find the bickering is at its worse. I just can’t pinpoint why.
Our son is 7 years old, and he has a LOT of energy. We welcomed a baby boy last April and so the dynamics in the house have changed drastically. He must be quiet when the baby is sleeping, he must be more patient, he doesn’t get all the attention anymore, etc., and he handles it quite well. He sometimes gets excited about playing a video game and screams out in excitement, which then prompts a huge, “Shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!” But, he’s just being a kid and he should be allowed to play without so many rules. So, I try and cut him a little slack.
My husband says I give him a long leash, but I disagree. I do pick my battles instead of reacting to his every move. He’s a good kid. He gets good grades and has good behavior in school (with the exception of talking a lot). He’s polite. He’s dedicated to soccer and practices faithfully. He is only 7, after all. That’s why I choose not to reprimand him every time he may get a little mouthy or stomp out of the room in frustration. Kids can have bad days, too. I am certain he has seen me do this a time or two after a bad day at work.
I just don’t see where the constant nagging and bickering is working, and something must change. So, I chose to try a different approach these last few weeks. I’m less focused on his every move. I create a schedule, so he knows what’s expected of him and when each day. I encourage him to help me when dad is gone, and he does — he’s especially a great big brother. And, I try and talk to him at his level when I don’t like something I see or hear, rather than get angry and punish him by taking away his favorite things. I even bought a book titled: Setting Limits with your Strong-Willed Child. I’m not saying this is the right approach, but it’s one I’m willing to try.
I know we aren’t alone in this struggle. I just think some people parent differently, and kids even behave differently with each parent. What really matters is that he is surrounded by love. But, I still wish we could enjoy our time together with a little less bickering.