Summer break brings a LOT of togetherness for our family of five. This isn’t always a bad thing. Except when the children are fighting. For me, this takes up approximately 87% of my day. While I adore being a referee (in addition to taxi driver, chef, maid and activities captain), I am in desperate need of a break from all the bickering. And by desperate, I mean I would rather pluck my pubes out one by one with a dull pair of tweezers than listen to them argue for another second.
I found myself online one day searching for advice from the “parenting experts,” confident someone out there had a simple solution that, when implemented, would leave my children happily frolicking through fields, holding hands and singing Kumbaya.
What I found was not only unhelpful, it was so wildly out of touch with parenting reality I nearly dropped my glass of Merlot. In no particular order, here are some “helpful” ways to stop your children from fighting.
1. Practice patience. I’m betting the only “child” this parenting expert has is covered in fur and has four legs.
2. Start an acts of kindness list. I can actually hear my kids’ eyes rolling as I write this. The nicest thing I’ve heard my daughter say to her brother recently is, “Please get your disgusting arm away from me. You have dry skin.” She said please, so I’m counting it as a win.
3. Never make your children share their toys. Bahaaaaaaaaa. Wait. Hahahahahaaaaaaaaaaa. OK, sorry. Bwahhhhaaaaaa. Oh shit, I think I just peed my pants a little.
4. Stop and spend time together. I’m pretty sure the last thing we need is to spend more time together. The entire basis of this latest argument stemmed from too much togetherness. One can only debate the ineffectiveness of another’s inability to brush his or her teeth when one is sitting too fucking close to the other person.
5. Begin the day in harmony. *Shakes head in disbelief.*
6. Listen to both sides. It would be helpful to listen as my offspring defend their positions on who touched the last Popsicle first, but I can’t decipher actual words over their ear-piercing screams. It sounds like two pterodactyls fornicating on a sheet of packing bubbles. Every dog in our neighborhood is standing on our lawn.
7. Space your children three years apart. That’s super advice, thank you. Unfortunately, you penned an article about sibling rivalry and I am currently reading it, which assumes I have at least two children already. And since I don’t have a time machine, might I suggest you put one hand over your tiny black heart and repeat after me, “I am an imbecile.”
8. Don’t accuse. Children, as a species, are big fat liars. It goes against every fiber of my parental being to sit back calmly as my 10-year-old swears on my life he didn’t hit his sister with a wiffle bat. Do I ignore the cartoon-sized goose egg on her head? This isn’t my first rodeo, kid. Accusations are the least of your worries.
9. Celebrate your children’s fights. “What a great opportunity to teach relationship skills and conflict resolution!” Said no parent ever.
10. Lock your children in separate rooms and grab a cocktail. Oh wait, that’s my advice. I think I may be on to something here.