If you don’t automatically start singing the theme song to Wonder Pets when you read the above words, you either 1) Don’t have a toddler or 2) Are a much better parent than I am and don’t allow your toddler near the brain sucking powers of Nick Jr. But, alas, I’m a TV girl. I always have been, no matter how much smarter I know I’d be if I just turned the TV off and read in the evening. So, despite my attempts at “no TV before the age of 2!” it just didn’t happen. Now, that doesn’t mean we’re an all TV all the time kind of family. My goal is no more than an hour a day for August…a show in the morning and one the afternoon. Sometimes I fail at that. Rarely I shock myself and we make it through a day with only 30 minutes worth of mind warping.
And I’d have to say that if there’s a marital parenting issue between my husband and I, it’s the TV thing. Chris doesn’t like that August watches TV. It’s not like I disagree. I don’t like it either. I feel serious guilt when I see his perfectly still body engrossed in the mesmerizing glitter of Yo Gabba Gabba. Toddlers aren’t supposed to sit still, eyes transfixed for thirty minutes at a time. They’re supposed to run and crash and build towers and make grown-ups beg for silence.
That’s why I let August watch TV: The need for silence. I’ve got to take a shower. Or I need a break. Or I’ve got to get my post up and he’s crying every time I open my computer. For thousands of years, mothers have begged their toddlers to just sit still for half an hour so they can get something done. And here, in this moment of history, we actually have a tool that will silence our children! Too bad it also leads to ADHD and poorer performance in school.
So, when the subject comes up, I know where my husband stands on the issue. He knows where I stand: somewhere between guilt and relief that I could wash my hair today. And he chooses to submit to my need for a break, since I’m the one at home and he’s the one in work-ville. He submits out of love and also out of a desire for my sanity.
Today I came across two different pieces detailing the same sort of crisis, except much more extreme in terms of parental disagreement. Yesterday, a NYTimes blog Motherlode posted about a mother whose parenting style is so different from her spouse’s that it’s breaking apart their marriage. Parents magazine recently ran an article titled “How to Fight in Front of Your Kids,” which was basically the tale of one uptight Give-the-kids-a-healthy-breakfast-and-get-them-outside-mama versus her Sit-in-front-of-the-laptop-while-the-kids-watch-TV-husband.
Those articles have made me think today about what it means for husbands and wives to “submit to one another out of reverence for Christ,” especially when it comes to the passionate, craze-inducing issues of child-rearing.
What do you think? Do you and your spouse usually agree on issues of parenting? What do you do when you can’t agree?