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My husband and I were respectively homeless under the age of 16. Neither of us had the parenting role models to structure how to resolve conflict. We are determined to set a positive example for our children. We do so by fighting in front of them.
We both came from socioeconomic backgrounds of the working class, middle-income class, high-class-taste class. That’s a weird combination to be homeless from. There aren’t any after-school specials featuring our childhoods.
We experienced our childhood home’s as a violent place of upheaval. As adults, we consider our upbringings as offensive to our ethics and value system. He left home of his own accord as a child, I was kicked out of my home as a young teen. We were a little too out of the ordinary of typical white kid-people to fit in any mold, except along side the few other kids that were outcast from their lives too young. And for the few that we knew that were also homeless, those kids had near un-relatable problems, including drugs, alcohol, and death.
Though our emotional maturity was stunted by our lack of parental involvement, our contemporary emotional intelligence is comprised of our own interpretation of life experience and education. Further evolvement comes from us working together, and dutifully, on emotional issues.
We want more than anything for them to learn at a young age how to solve real life problems with other people.
The holes in our emotional maturity can be glaring at times. We counteract this by being patient with each other and talking things into the ground. I’d place my adult fighting style into the category of “passionate debater.” As it turns out, my husband is a very good debater.
It is because of our complicated backgrounds that we choose to resolve conflict in front of our children. Not scary fighting, not abusive fighting, but keep-ourselves-in-check fighting. We get crappy with each other, and then we work out an understanding, a plan of action, an appropriate apology, and we follow through with what we say we’re going to do. The house stays cleaner, the schedules are followed, and we enjoy working together as a family and accomplishing life and career goals. We use our current life as an opportunity to pursue teaching our children life lessons.
Problems arise when we encounter, now, the normally-adolescent issues that my husband and I never had the chance to work through within our own childhood households. Since we didn’t grow up under the influence of generational conflict resolution, we are teaching ourselves as we go. When needed, we utilize (and appreciate) the help of friends, mentors, and professionals.
Post-apologies, we have come up with some good ideas and actionable items that have made our lives significantly better. We have started a now-successful Airbnb and completed an Airstream remodel together. We have designed public art projects, worked on motorcycles, and traveled together. We love our lives and enjoy each other’s company more than anyone else. He is working his way out from under his full-time job as I work from home on our 2 businesses. We share parenting duties equally.
As adults, we consider our upbringings as offensive to our ethics and value system. He left home of his own accord as a child, I was kicked out of my home as a young teen.
We are responsible for a teenager and a toddler, and are teaching them how to be responsible for themselves. We want more than anything for them to learn at a young age how to solve real life problems with other people. We are careful about which disagreements we choose to discuss in front of the children, and we explain why we make the choices we do.
Most importantly, we make sure to honor the outcome of a fight and trackback the progress of the choices that were made to it’s origins. It’s easy for kids to forget or overlook choices from the past and relate them to outcomes that have spanned time.
How we fight in front of our children and how we choose to resolve conflict is an enlightening process to our whole family. We are teaching our future yet learning about how our past’s affect our present. We want to teach our children to be able to get through hard times with grace.
Death in the family? Yes, our too-young-to-grasp daughter will be there in appropriate dress. She has her own mind and experiences the ambiance of grim situations in her own ways. Thanks to these parenting methods, our older son understands how to interpret his own feelings of fight or flight and how to approach an uncomfortable situation involving another person with intent to resolve. We are very proud of him.
During times that healthy conflict is abundant, it is important to share your processes and mindsets of fighting. Provide examples of conflict resolution that are motivating. Teach how to compromise. Discuss feelings of obsession and avoidance with gusto. Include age appropriate details and followup with the occasional aftermath quiz.
Our stature as parents provide a model of morality to our impressionable young ones. Our influence shows our kids how to become a basic person. We are making our better society right now as we teach our children how to be critical thinking adults. We are and are among extraordinary people. And we look forward to knowing our extraordinary adult kids.
Rene Geneva is an entrepreneur, creator of IndieAirbnb.com, Airbnb host, clothing designer, writer, and speaker.