I know that there are couples out there that never fight. I mean, I don't know of any personally, but I've heard that they exist. My partner and I? Well, we are definitely not one of those couples. We argue and we disagree and we fight, and while it doesn't happen very often, it does happen and, well, we even allow it to happen in front of our kid. There are reasons why parents who fight are sometimes the best; reasons that I think will benefit our son as we raise him to be a tolerant, inclusive person who values the opinions of others, especially when they differ from his own. The moments when he sees his two parents disagree, are moments that can teach him how to stand up for what he believes in, while simultaneously respecting someone else enough to listen to what they believe in, too.
Growing up in an abusive home, I learned a somewhat unhealthy way of disagreeing and/or fighting with other people. I honestly thought that if you weren't fighting with your partner on a consistent, sometimes exhausting basis, you weren't doing relationships right. After a few unhealthy relationships of my own, and definitely more than my fair share of failed ones, I realized that fighting all the time isn't what makes a partnership stick and it isn't indicitive of the passion you have and it isn't, well, sustainable. I did, however, remember that just because you don't fight all the time, doesn't mean you shouldn't feel safe and secure enough (with yourself, and in your relationship) to speak up and voice your own opinion, especially when it differs from your partner.
Now, thankfully, my partner and I have found the happy middle ground: we agree enough that we don't always argue, but we respect our individualities enough to engage and facilitate the moments when an argument is necessary. In those moments, I know our son is learning how to fight with a loved one or family member or friend or, well, anyone, in a healthy way and that's pretty damn awesome. So, with that in mind, here are 12 reasons why fighting with your parenting partner pretty much makes you the best.
They Know What Is Worth Serious Discussion...
It's an outdated and overrated saying, but if you're to maintain a healthy relationship, I suggest picking and choosing your battles. There are some things that are absolutely worth fighting for, and you'll know what those things are when they come between you and your partner.
...And What Isn't Worth Arguing About At All
And, of course, there are some things that aren't worth fighting for at all. Really, partnership is just about picking someone you think you can tolerate for an extended period of time, to the point that you would like to tolerate life with them, too. That means that, well, even when they are at their most annoying or doing that one thing that drives you crazy (i.e. never putting a dirty dish in the sink) you learn to let it go. You love them for everything they are, and everything they're not. Flaws go hand-in-hand with the good qualities, and you have to deal with both.
They're Not Afraid To Express Their Feelings To Their Partner
What I admire the most about my partnership, is that I'm not afraid to express my feelings and beliefs with my partner, and visa versa. I don't think I have to agree emphatically with him, in order to keep him around or in order to make sure he continues to love me. I know that I can disagree or argue or even fight, and we will still respect one another and value one another's individual opinions. That definitely comes in handy when we're raising a kid together, and trying to compromise when we don't always agree on specific parenting choices or techniques.
They Teach Their Kids That Being Passionate About Something Is A Good Thing...
My partner and I argue about one thing in particular (these days, about once a week) and especially during a political election of any kind: gun control. I am in favor of gun control, while my midwestern partner wants the freedom to own guns. We are both very passionate about this issue and discuss it with as much fervor as our political leaders, and our kid sees those interactions. I like knowing that my son is growing up in an environment that not only fosters a difference of opinion, but gives him silent permission to be passionate about the things that matter most to him and the things that are going on in the world and the decisions that need to be made if we are to create a better future.
...And That You Shouldn't Be Afraid To Stick Up For Yourself
One of the most important lessons I want to teach my son is that he is a person of value, and he is worthy enough to stick up for himself when someone attacks him or his beliefs or his opinions. Now, this doesn't mean getting defensive and this doesn't mean shutting down those who think differently; it just means that I want my son to learn that he can stick up for himself, even against family members and the people he loves most. His opinions matter and his beliefs matter and his voice matters, and I want my son to make sure he knows he has the right to use it.
Kids Have A Realistic Expectation Of What It Means To Be In A Partnership...
I am all about painting a realistic picture when it comes to relationships, especially for my kid. Two people in love don't always get along and they don't always agree with one another and, hell, they don't always like each other. It's perfectly healthy and normal to disagree, and because I grew up in an abusive environment in which disagreeing with one parent meant you felt physical pain, I want my son to know what healthy disagreement and discussions and arguments look like. And then, of course, I want him to feel secure enough to participate in them. (Just, you know, not when he is a toddler and arguing with me about whether or not it is safe for him to jump off of our couch.)
...And Learn That You Don't Always Have To Agree With The Person You're With
Not only is this realistic when it comes to relationship expectations (especially romantic, potentially long-lasting ones) but it encourages individuality, even when you're part of a partnership. I don't want my son to think that he has to compromise who he is as a person, in order to make someone happy or in order to make a monogamous (or any kind) of relationship successful.
Continuously Cultivating Your Individuality Is Important
Which is why making sure you're tending to your individual needs and working on yourself (as an individual separate from your partnership) is vital. When you argue with your partner in front of your children (in a healthy way, of course) you're teaching your kid that your individual ideas and opinions and beliefs are just as important as the opinions and beliefs you hold together, as a united parenting team.
You Teach Your Kid To Value Different Opinions...
When you argue (in a healthy way) because your opinion differs from that of your partner, you're reminding yourself, your partner and your kid that different opinions aren't only normal; they're helpful and necessary and make people better, well, people. You're creating a more tolerant and inclusive environment, while still facilitating passionate discussions. You're teaching your kid to both respect the opinions of others, while learning how to speak up and express their own. (Basically everything Congress can't do.)
...And Show Them That You Don't Always Have To Be Right, Either
When two people argue, chances are someone is going to be wrong. I have been wrong plenty of times, and my partner has been wrong plenty of (more) times (just kidding), and during every single one of those instances, our son gets to see someone concede their point. I think being able to learn to admit when you were wrong is so very important.
You Learn How To Fight In A Healthy, Constructive Way
There is a right way to fight, and there is a wrong way to fight. I think it's important to fight in front of your kid, but only if it is healthy (and honestly, you should really only be fighting with your partner if it's healthy). You shouldn't be bringing up the past; You shouldn't be calling your partner names; You definitely shouldn't be getting violent or abusive. If you are fighting in a healthy way, your kid will learn how to discuss and disagree and yes, even fight, in a healthy way, too.
You Teach Your Kids To Constantly Learn And Grow In Their Opinions And Beliefs
I can't tell you how much I have learned from the people I disagree with. My partner has taught me so very much, and that hasn't necessarily happened when we just emphatically agree with one another. I know that he learns from me when we argue, and I learn from him when we argue, and those "lessons" are teaching our son that you should constantly be learning and evolving and checking yourself and your beliefs. You shouldn't sit in your ways and be fine thinking what you think, without testing yourself and listening to others. Yes, even the people who disagree with you.