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.
Kyle: That was my last major stand. (laughs)
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.
Kyle: And then you disagree when you close the door. (laughs)
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: 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?
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.
Photographs by Carter Fish