This weekend John and I were having an animated discussion in the kitchen. The topic at hand, a George Foreman Grill. Ari called in from the living room, "Are you guys fighting?" We responded that no we were not, we just had differing opinions. I told her that I could certainly understand her dad's love for bacon and that was driving his desire for a George Foreman Grill. John said he could understand my need to not have spaces I have recently freed from clutter taken up by an appliance that all he wants to do with it is cook bacon.
Ari said, "Well it sounds like you are fighting and I don't like it." I think we both wanted to respond with some snarky comment about how we get to listen to her and her sister fight all the time. However, what we both told her, was that disagreement was a very good thing. When two people can disagree and still communicate well, things get better and better. No one feels trampled, decisions are carefully weighed, points of view are shared and perspectives are broadened.
Ari's immediate response was that her fighting with her sister was a good thing too. We agreed, in principle. We explained to her that we felt it was our job to teach her and her sister how to disagree well, using ground rules and respect for each other and the ways we all differ. She seemed interested so we told her we thought the ground rules were no name calling, no violence, and active listening. And we welcomed her to come up with other ground rules if they led to productive disagreement.
In this entire conversation, I could not help but think about an article that has crossed my attention at least 4 times in the past week. Teaching kids to have disputes even with parents using ground rules and a desire to understand and make things better is a good thing.
In the end, we still do not own a George Foreman Grill and John and I both agree that a pan and a broiler will work nicely. We both ended up getting what we wanted and because the dispute was settled respectfully, no one is stewing or waiting to throw it back at the other party. Hopefully, the girls can learn a thing or two from their dad and I disagreeing and maybe we need to do it within earshot of them more often.
(John, lover of his girls, bacon, and Warcraft)
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