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Conversations With Kyle: When We Disagree

Eva Amurri Martino and Kyle Martino laugh together while drinking espresso at the bar of an NYC restaurant

Welcome to another installment of Conversations With Kyle! It’s so exciting to me to see how much you guys are liking this series– it shows that we are all asking ourselves the same big questions and really wanting to get our hands dirty with these parenting topics. From the day I became a Mom I always had a sneaking suspicion that all of us parents really ARE so much alike despite how at odds the “Mom Space” can seem with itself at times. Having this blog has shown me that we are all more alike than different, and that ALWAYS makes me feel less alone in my own parenting journey. Anyway, back to my convo with my hubby! This month we decided to tackle parenting disagreements. I got a lot of questions, when I polled my audience on social media, about how Kyle and I work through it when we have differing opinions about how to raise our kids. The other night we sat down, poured a couple glasses of wine, and really got in to it! Below is our entire conversation:

Eva: The topic of this one is When We Disagree, in the parenting sphere. Because a lot of people have questions about that…surprisingly, some parents are disagreeing… (both laugh). Um, so I wanted to I guess just get your overall view on that first. Do you think we disagree a lot, or not that often?

 

Kyle: I would say that we rarely disagree, and when we do you challenge me to come up with a reason why we disagree, and it usually means that I acquiesce and agree. Because I really don’t have a good reason to disagree (laughs).

 

 

Eva: I agree that we rarely disagree, but I think that when we do it’s over things where we’re fundamentally different. And a lot of it is not just about our personalities. A lot of the areas where we disagree are areas where we’re uncomfortable, because of our own experiences from our own lives or our own childhoods– like, I would say that the number one area where I have a problem is when I don’t feel like you’re being “safe enough” with them.

 

Kyle: Yeah, I think I tend to want them to skin a knee, and you tend to want their knee to be lotioned. (both laugh). And that’s kind of the crux of our disagreement. I remember a recent disagreement was I was teaching Major to jump off the couch in to the pillows, and you thought it was a bad idea– but I disagreed because I thought you were being way overprotective. You thought I was teaching Major something he wouldn’t understand when the pillows were gone, and I said “well, why don’t I move the pillows and show you that he understands he can’t jump off the couch when there are no pillows there.” And he did a stage dive off of the couch on to the carpet…which was not a good thing at all.

 

Eva: Yeah.

 

Kyle: That was my last major stand. (laughs)

 

Eva Amurri Martino stands with husband Kyle Martino on the black and white tiled floor of an NYC eatery

 

Eva: Yep, that’s seared in to my memory. But I would say an area we often run in to issues with the safety stuff is that I don’t feel like you always understand where they are with their abilities, mind-body-connection wise– and so I assume that they’re going to get hurt when they do things or activities that they might not be ready for. But you assume that they won’t get hurt, or that if they get hurt it’s not going to be very bad or something– and I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad approach. It’s just really hard for me, to have that type of faith, like what’s the worst that can happen, but…

 

Kyle: If we’re going to extremes, you want to make sure they never fall and I want to make sure they fall so they learn not to do it again.

 

Eva: Right. And I guess neither of those is perfect.

 

Kyle: Yeah, and I think the balance is right.

 

Eva: So I guess then, here’s an interesting segue: do you think that it’s important for parents to agree? Or do you think that it’s important that parents do have differing opinions so that you get that balance of parenting styles?

 

Kyle: I think parenting is kind of like Yin and Yang. There is a balance because there’s always going to be disagreement, and as long as there’s discourse it’s fine. Every time we disagree, we communicate why.

 

Eva: Well, therapy has been really good for us with that.

 

Kyle: Therapy has taught us how to communicate when disagreement is, for me just trying to maybe have equity in the parental relationship. And sometimes I do it irrationally, or through insecurity, when I’m just trying to put my foot down– when I don’t even necessarily believe the stance I’m taking. I’m just trying to inject my personality and my opinion in the parenting decision.

 

Eva: Right, so maybe it’s more about a dynamic between us than it even is about a parenting situation.

 

Kyle: Yeah, definitely. When we started going to therapy, I think we had fewer disagreements…

 

Eva: Yeah, because we were taking care of our issues in a different way

 

Kyle: Yeah, I mean I think sometimes things we disagree with– you and I– they can start to spill over in to parenting decisions. And we started to recognize why we were disagreeing with each other outside of being parents.

 

Eva: Yes! But I think that something therapy is really good for for us in that arena, too, is understanding what each other’s triggers are from our own histories– and understanding WHY we each have our own parenting philosophy and things that we care about when it comes to parenting. I think that’s really valuable– understanding, for example, what from my background influences me to be more protective, or whatever, you know what I mean? I think understanding that has been the key to both of us being more generous when it comes to respecting a point of view even when we don’t totally understand where the other person is coming from.

 

Kyle: Yeah, I think people are just kind of hardwired to think that some of the ways that they were raised is the default. So, there was a lot of Lord Of The Flies type of situation in my childhood– I have three older brothers and one younger sister– and sometimes my oldest brother was left in charge, and basically it was Hunger Games. (both laugh) So sometimes I think a lot of good things came out of that, where you did figure out the kid you were going to be without parental supervision or a “helicopter parent”– but I think there were times that we needed the protection that tends to be more like your parenting style. So I think I see in the way you parent something that is sometimes unrecognizable in terms of the way I was raised. But at the end of the day you start to realize that there isn’t one way to parent– you just have to have a united front. And not a united front in the way that you agree on everything but a united front in that the kids see that you agree on everything.

 

Eva: Right.

 

Kyle: And then you disagree when you close the door. (laughs)

 

Eva Amurri Martino stands with husband Kyle Martino on the black and white tiled floor of an NYC eatery

Eva: So. What would you say is the one thing that you wish I would acquiesce on when it comes to our parenting disagreements?

 

Kyle: I wish you would let them take a few more risks…

 

Eva: In what way?

 

Kyle: You know, I like seeing them push themselves– and obviously…

 

Eva: You mean physically?

 

Kyle: Yeah, you know as an ex professional athlete I like to see them challenging themselves physically. Like Lowie came home from a party today and she had a skinned knee and a scrape on her leg from climbing a tree, and I like to see that. I like to see her pushing herself and getting to know her limits. But I totally understand that that’s a challenge for you because of Major’s accident, and some of the things we’ve been through. So I’ve been able to recalibrate my expectations of what’s necessary risk.

 

Eva: It’s interesting, too, because I feel like you push them more physically to go outside their comfort zones– and I push them more emotionally to go outside their comfort zones. Like, I feel like I create a lot of structure and boundaries for them when it comes to certain things– and that’s my own way of encouraging and pushing them.

 

Kyle: Well you also push them to be kind of, in a way little adults. You’ve taught them manners– like I remember the first time Lowie asked me if she could be excused from the table after a meal. And I was like “what do you mean?” And she was like “Can I please be excused, Dad?” And I was like “From the table?” And I was thinking, wow that happened quickly…

 

Eva: Yeah..well, it didn’t happen quickly. (laughs) A lot of hard work went it to that…

 

Kyle: Well I guess for someone who wasn’t paying attention… (both laugh)

 

Eva: I would say if there was one thing I would want you to acquiesce on it would be– and you have a lot, actually– just understanding a lot more the things that are more obviously physically risky. Like the jumping off the furniture, and things like that, that make me really uncomfortable…

 

Kyle: Well here’s the thing about those times, and this might be counterintuitive– but I feel like I do those things so that YOU can see that they’re going to be ok. Sometimes I want them to take risks so they can show you that they’ll always be ok.

 

Eva: Yeah…that feels counterintuitive to me.

 

Kyle: Yeah, I get that.

 

Eva Amurri Martino stands with husband Kyle Martino on the black and white tiled floor of an NYC eatery

 

Eva: Do you have anything else on this topic you want to discuss?

 

Kyle: If there’s one parenting quality that you think I’m shirking, what is it?

 

Eva: Well, I think that I’m Bad Cop FOR SURE when it comes to discipline. Would you agree with that?

 

Kyle: Yes.

 

Eva: So that is the one thing…

 

Kyle: Those smiles though…Lowie gets a second and third book at bedtime every time with me…

 

Eva: I think that is one thing, that I end up feeling like a shrew– but then we BOTH reap the benefits of our kids being well behaved with good discipline. It’s just annoying for me to have to do it most of the time. So that’s probably the only thing where I would say I wish you would do more in that area.

 

Kyle: I think what’s hard is that when I’m gone a lot of the time– and this is more from when I was gone half the week when we lived in LA, but now that I’m working the whole time on weekends– it’s tough to come in and you’re exhausted and you’ve been with the kids, and you’ve kind of had it, and they’re acting up and they deserve to be disciplined. But in those rare moments when I only have an hour or two to see them, it’s hard to be the Bad Cop when you have such a small window with them.

 

Eva: I do get that. But I honestly think that’s important for your relationship with them, too. You know?

 

Kyle: Yeah. Well, what’s funny is you’re Bad Cop– and meanwhile if any shit hits the fan they’re like “Mama!! Mama!!” And want you.

 

Eva: Yeah, but I think that’s why! I truly think that’s why. I think that kids respond really well to the person that they get structure from…

 

Kyle: They’re just going to ask me for money… (both laugh)

 

Eva: Well, I guess we covered structure and discipline– because I think those are big areas where parents disagree a lot. Umm…and then when it comes to disagreements, do you believe in “Happy Wife, Happy Life?”

 

Kyle: YES. (both laugh). I would say I fight 25% of the battles that come up.

 

Eva: I think that’s a pretty good percentage. I can stand behind that.

 

Kyle: 75% of them I wave the white flag.

 

 

Eva: Touché.

 

Eva Amurri Martino stands at the bar of an NYC restaurant and whispers in to husband Kyle Martino's ear

 

Photographs by Carter Fish

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17 Comments

  1. Beatriz says:

    I’m obsessed with this series! I’m not a mom yet but I’m a newlywed and I think I need to start having conversations with Eric 😂 (my husband)! Thanks for being so open with your family, it’s really touching and is such a wonderful example to follow. 🙂

    04.30.18Reply
  2. I’m glad you two are raising healthy kids. If my ex thought like Kyle, I’d still be married.

    So often in families, Dad is the “fun one” and Mom sets the rules and enforces them. Motherhood is not for the faint of heart. It’s the biggest job in the world.

    My maternal grandmother taught us never to jump on or off the furniture or put our feet on the table. I always remember that as good advice.

    04.30.18Reply
  3. Kim says:

    I LOVE this! It’s so great to see parents giving time and energy to exploring parenting disagreements, rather than just talking “at” each other. It’s something my husband and I work on doing now just with marital disagreements, and now that we’re about to have our first baby, I love knowing that there are other people out there who are having success from the strategy I hope to use for parenting. THANK YOU for sharing! 🙂

    04.30.18Reply
  4. Carol says:

    Hi guys
    I love it when is this time of the blog, “Conversations with Kyle”
    I love it that he is so honest and I like reading his point of view.
    I see a lot of ur intastories, so I’m always wondering how you guys deal with a couple of situations, like the good cop/bad cop part, the one that lets the kids run or jump thru whatever and the one that gets scared of them doinf stuff & how to be with them if you’re not with them all the time.
    Everything is communication and you guys have that & is great. To be doing this blog it helps a lot of people bc they can relate & maybe they can use some of the stuff that you guys do.
    Well I like always look forward to the next “Conversations with Kyle” until next time.
    Att. Carol from Puerto Rico

    04.30.18Reply
  5. Stephanie Almhem says:

    For the most part my husband and I agree when it comes to parenting. Before my son was born we each wrote down what we wanted to keep from a cultural tradition (I’m Mexican and he’s Swedish) and we also talked very long about discipline. Which in a Mexican household is very hostile at times. So I swore I’d never be like that so we took a chapter from his upbringing and hurray it’s working.

    I know I won’t get everything right but I’ll think about scenarios and ask him how we should go about it. He hates it because he’s more of a “we will figure it out when it happens” kinda guy but I want to see if we see eye to eye and if not how can we fix that so when the day comes we aren’t arguing under a stressful situation. In the end i get my answers and a successful conversation with my husband.

    04.30.18Reply
  6. Merrie says:

    Great article! But there was a minor copy error: “segue”, not “segway” 😳. Get your marketer on that ish!

    04.30.18Reply
  7. Rachel says:

    My husband and I have been married for 5 years now. We don’t have any kids & we “plan” on adding little additions to our family the end of this year. I absolutely love this series, because it gives us real life topics to think and talk about BEFORE we have children. Thank you so much!

    04.30.18Reply
  8. Jennifer says:

    I loved this piece. So relatable for me, I’m bad cop as well. Lol!

    04.30.18Reply
  9. Dawn says:

    This is my favorite series!! I hope you keep these up. Love you guys!! 🙂

    04.30.18Reply
  10. Jamie Guerrettaz says:

    OMG I LOVE THIS!!! Of course I love how raw and real you both get in these but my favorite part was you both referencing how going to therapy for your relationship has actually impacted how you parent your children! Literally copying and pasting this link for husband to read RIGHT NOW. Keep these coming!!!

    04.30.18Reply
  11. Jamie says:

    Whoops, I didn’t mean to include my last name in my comment…any way that could be removed? I was to excited to write my comment that I hastily filled out the first part!! 🙂

    04.30.18Reply
  12. Marci says:

    My husband is totally the fun dad. I am definitely the screaming banshee on all things–especially when it comes to safety and when it comes to discipline. I also find that because he’s the fun, relaxed dad, my older kids (13,12) also communicate with him more and are more open to him in terms of different subjects of life. It hurts my feelings sometimes. As parents, we all want what’s best for our kids. We want to give them what we didn’t have growing up. My parents worked and as the oldest kid, I was left to watch my younger siblings. I grew up fast. I also had the sense of responsibility whereas my husband is the youngest and his mom did most things for him and so there’s disconnect there because his way of doing things are COMPLETELY different than how I do things. He’s definitely more relaxed whereas I’m more strict.

    I really do enjoy seeing that most parents are all the same when it comes to parenting. We are all trying our best.

    04.30.18Reply
  13. Priya says:

    I really loved this exchange between you and your husband. I’m single, and so many times, it looks like relationships are perfect, and as singles we yearn so much for that blissful life.

    What’s refreshing is to see the exchanges, disagreements and discourses that really happen in a marriage that sometimes those of us who are single don’t get to see. It reminds me that while it would be lovely to have partner, that yes, it DOES take work- therapy, arguments, these things all happen after the honeymoon phase is over.

    I really appreciate you sharing this, it reminds me that relationships indeed are “work,” and it takes patience, kindness, communication, understanding, and effort to make it a beautiful thing.

    04.30.18Reply
  14. Veronica says:

    I loved this post. It is really well put, for anyone raising kids or starting a family or how to have reasonable and structured discussions with your partner.
    I can totally heat your voice in the whole conversation. Thanks for sharing your life with all of us!

    04.30.18Reply
  15. Joan says:

    This was a great read! My husband and I are grandparents and we have these same type issues come up. We didn’t raise babies together so we are learning how to co-grandparent! We are actually just the opposite – I am the one saying “let them be kids!” and he tends to be the more nervous one.

    Just wanted you to know that even us older folk glean good information from you!

    Maybe sometime you could write about the kids relationships with their grandparents?

    04.30.18Reply
  16. Karina Aldrette says:

    With your mom being an actress I would think she wasnt at home too much or maybe she was but back then parents didnt really think too much about how they were parenting. These days everything is planned but I really think you just never know if its all going to be according to the expectations we imagine by thinking too much about it. I think nowadays its hard enough to stay married lol so kids with happy married parents makes happy healthy kids. Beautiful happy family the Martinos.

    04.30.18Reply
  17. Taylor says:

    This was such a wonderful article! I’m not even married nor do I have children, but I could definitely take away so many positives from this! Thank you both for being so open and honest I think it’s definitely SUPER helpful for other couples/parents!!! Love this series !!!

    05.01.18Reply