Today, four of us including my husband and child gathered around the dining table, and we had a cake divided into eight pieces. Our family consists of the oldest child, who recently started high school, and the second oldest, who is in the upper grades of elementary school. It was during this cake-sharing moment that a disagreement arose.
The second oldest child mentioned that with eight pieces of cake, each person should have two. However, the oldest child, displaying a sense of entitlement, finished eating two pieces and immediately reached for a third. Both my husband and I voiced our opinion that the oldest child should have asked the others if it was okay to have the third piece. It’s a matter of respect and politeness towards one another. Taking the third piece without consideration was not appropriate.
This seemingly innocent situation quickly escalated as the oldest child, who is going through adolescence, became emotional and started arguing with my husband and me. He insisted that eating is instinctive and that he doesn’t need to ask others. According to him, he can eat as much as he wants without considering anyone else’s perspective. While I believed that we should have addressed the issue there and then, clearly pointing out the wrong behavior, my husband chose to continue the discussion.
My husband began criticizing and lecturing the oldest child, emphasizing that such selfish behavior would lead to problems in the future. The second oldest chimed in, reminding the oldest child that they had already mentioned the two pieces per person, taking into account both parents. The second oldest stressed that taking the third piece without considering others was a selfish act that could lead to losing friends and feeling isolated. At this point, the oldest, caught up in the heat of the argument, responded with retorts like, “Your words are useless. I won’t listen to you. You’re annoying.”
Witnessing this escalating argument, I intervened and urged both of them to stop and focus on eating. My husband viewed my response as too lenient, believing that immediate resolution was necessary. However, I felt that reasoning and arguing further with an emotionally charged teenager would be futile. The oldest wouldn’t listen, and continuing the discussion would only intensify the tension without any positive outcome. I believed it would be more productive to take a step back in that moment and address the issue later when emotions had settled.
The crux of our disagreement lies in our approaches to conflict resolution. When the children were younger, I tended to align with my husband’s method of immediate resolution. However, now
creating an environment conducive to discussions and knowing when to stop. I believe that as our children grow older, it is important to foster open communication and allow them to express their thoughts and emotions in a calm and constructive manner.
On the other hand, my husband, who was more accommodating when the children were younger, holds the belief that as they enter their teenage years, they should take on more responsibility. He feels it is necessary to address problems promptly and provide our teenager with extensive lectures, regardless of the prevailing atmosphere. This approach has left our oldest child feeling exasperated and resentful towards his father’s constant lectures.
At this point, we find ourselves at a crossroads, unsure of the best way to navigate this parenting challenge. While I understand the importance of setting boundaries and teaching our teenager about responsibility, I also recognize the need for patience and understanding during this transitional phase of their life.
Any suggestion or advice would be appreciated as we strive to find a balanced approach that promotes healthy communication, respect, and growth for our family. Thank you.