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February 1, 2007 / missknowitall

No Room to Argue

Dear Little Miss,

My family lives in a very small house, so when my husband and I argue, it’s often impossible to find somewhere to work it out without the kids watching (and later repeating) every exchange.  We’ve tried holding off until the middle of the night when the kids are in bed, but we are both rather quick-tempered and find it difficult to hold our tongues.  Often we go out on the back porch, but the kids still follow us outside to ask for things, like snacks, or to complain about each other, incessantly, or stand outside the door screaming at us if we block the door.  Any ideas for that?  🙂

Dear Crowded,

I agree that it is hard to find privacy when squished together like sardines in a can.  I had your same problem for a number of years while raising 4 children in a 2 bedroom apartment.  I think going out on the porch is a great idea, you just need to train the children to respect it as a private area when you are using it.  I suggest you paint yourself a big stop sign and find a way to hang it on the door leading to your porch.  Sit down with your children and talk about the importance of privacy.  Show them the stop sign and ask if they know what the sign means.  Then let them know that when ever they see the stop sign hanging on any door they need to STOP and leave you and your husband alone until the sign is removed (you should make it clear what kind of emergencies they would be allowed to interrupt you for).  Use the stop sign even when you are not arguing so that your children won’t think of it as an arguing sign, but as a privacy sign.  The older your children get the more they will like knowing that there is a respect for privacy in your home. 

It is time for me to STOP now and say “Goodbye”.

Miss Knowitall 

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