I was getting ready for the day and, like always, three kids and a dog followed me into our bedroom. Rosie spent her time digging through my makeup and putting eyeliner on her cheeks and blush on her lips. The boys chased the puppy under and around my bed squealing with laughter. Sometimes this makes me crazy but this time I just delighted in their joy and innocence. My husband, however, is very sensitive about protecting my time. He opened the bedroom door and announced. "Everybody out! Mommy is getting ready!"
The protests began before the first sentence came out of his mouth. "But Daddy! We were just playing!" Rosie started crying in earnest and fell in a heap on the floor. My husband was not going to put up with their disobedience.
"Get up, Rosie. Out of here. Boys, out-out-out!" He said as he picked up our daughter and ushered the boys and dog back out to the living room.
I took a deep breath. These situations are hard for me. I tend to defend the kids and make my husband feel as if I'm not backing him up. I weighed the facts. I didn't mind them being in there but they should always be obedient to their dad. He shocked them with his firm voice and so I felt bad for them and worried about their feelings. I decided to hang back and let them work in out.
My husband took the dog outside and my oldest was in my bedroom within ten seconds of the door closing with tears in his eyes. "What did Daddy yell at me?! Why does he have to be so mean!?"
"I'm sorry your feelings are hurt, love. You need to go talk to Daddy about it. He's a great listener. He asked you to stay out of our bedroom and I'm going to back him up. Please go out there and wait for him."
"But I want you to be there! I'm scared to talk to him!"
"I'll stand there, but you do the talking. Daddy loves you. He wants to hear what you have to say."
But my husband wasn't ready to listen. He simply said that Luke should have listened and that he wasn't yelling. Luke just thought he was yelling. It was a misunderstanding. Period. He was annoyed that I was standing there and so, knowing that my husband is always better with time to think, I left them both to stew.
A few minutes later I heard the first attempt at peace. "Buddy, I really don't think I was yelling but I don't want to upset you. How can I ask you differently next time?"
My seven year old looked up to meet his daddy's eyes. "You could just say, "Hey Luke, can you please get out of our room so Mommy can get ready? That would be a lot nicer."
"Alright, bud. I'll give it a shot."
Watching two people you love argue is a difficult place and yet, when they reconcile, it makes you realize that sometimes the fighting brings them closer. They were both able to state their case and my son learned what it means to reach across the aisle for a resolution. He learned that his dad is man enough to let go of his own point for the sake of the relationship. He learned that telling somebody that they upset you is much better than harboring anger and hurt. He never would have learned that had I fought that battle for him. As a mom, it's not an easy thing to step out of the way but I know he will be a stronger and better man if I show him all he is capable of doing on his own.
Are you ever tempted to intervene during conflict? Are there times when it would be better let them work it out on their own?