My dad taught me to avoid arguing. He was a yeller. There was no doubt when my dad was mad. When my brothers and sister and I would argue as kids, my dad would step in. His booming voice made even the neighborhood kids shake. This consequence as a child taught me that arguments would result in fear. I don’t like to be afraid so I avoid arguments.
Disagreements, though, are important in many relationships that we have throughout our life. Disagreements with a significant other, friends, or colleagues provides us with the ability to deepen a relationship, expand our thoughts, or discover new perspectives. We create shallow, superficial relationships when we impede the ability to debate thoughts.
When Kyleigh’s blood sugar is crazy, it impacts her emotions. She becomes very easily frustrated and quite irritable. Over the years, I noticed that the blood sugar swings often result in an argument with me, but never anyone else. Her frustration leads her to quickly disagreeing with me. The pattern of behavior made me sad and disappointed. As her mother, I felt like she should hold me in place of reverence. She should respect me more than others because I was the one who brought her into this world. What I now understand, though, is that is exactly the reason why she was lashing out at only me.
To speak up and disagree or to verbally express frustration takes courage and safety. Courage is necessary when sharing a dissenting view or personal emotions because it creates vulnerability. We might be sharing thoughts that may trigger emotions from others and result in criticism. Being ready with armor of courage allows us to disagree. Even with courage, though, an individual won’t disagree without feeling safe. They need to feel that their relationship is solid enough that a dissenting opinion will not disrupt their connection, but rather could make it stronger.
Kyleigh’s blood sugar disagreements were directed towards me out of love and respect. The impact of her blood sugars created the feeling of courage, but her sense of safety came from feeling loved. She knew I would love her unconditionally. This environment of unconditional love gave her the safety to express her emotions when it became extremely difficult to control. She maintained composure with others because she didn’t feel the same safety.
It continues to be my job as a parent to teach her how to disagree effectively even during times when diabetes makes it challenging. It starts with courage and safety, but a sense of calm and the ability to listen are also components of a valuable disagreement. Being curious and open-minded allows us to objectively explore the opinions of others especially when sharing thoughts on someone’s emotions. It is my hope, though, that maintaining unconditional love as a parent during disagreements with my children will instill peaceful confidence instead of fear allowing them to argue effectively and not avoid a future disagreement.
Do you give yourself permission to disagree? Are you children able to disagree?