My husband and I used to argue, not about anything that necessarily affected us on a daily basis, but about everything else, specifically anything political. And, you know, I was always right. So we’d go for days without talking, or anything else.
When we got married, we really didn’t know each other. Who does? We were on completely opposite ends of the political spectrum, socially, economically. No real common ground. I was right. He was wrong. We discovered after a number of years that there were topics we simply couldn’t and shouldn’t discuss, in the interest of our marriage and our sanity.
So once we started having children, politics sort of fell by the wayside. Those types of discussions just ceased to really come up. There was no time. Three kids. Five busy lives. Ailing parents. For politics and most social issues, who had the time? Not that we didn’t care any longer, simply that time didn’t allow for the arguing or perhaps even the dedication of thought.
So our kids are adults now (at least chronologically), and we talk not only between ourselves, but with our kids, about a lot of things I never spoke with my parents about, which may be why my attitudes were so polarized, so set, so hardened. What I’ve learned more than anything else through my children is that I am not always right. In fact, I’m most often not right, for the simple reason that for so many subjects, there is no right and no wrong. With this relatively new-found knowledge of mine, Steve and I can actually discuss those bigger issues, and we find that we are closer than we thought, in part because we’ve both mellowed (and because Steve has moved a little to the left!).
My children, or at least parenting them and their very opinionated selves, have taught me that there is, or should be, a bit of both sides on all sides. There was a time in America when there used to be just that. A little left. A little right. A little give. A little take. As usual, I’m late to the game. I’m just now figuring that out, now when the rest of the world has decided that everything is once again black and white. At least that’s how it feels, until I sit with my youngest at the kitchen table and talk about abortion.
Always a controversial topic here in this country, abortion is once again polarizing us. Absolute right and absolute wrong. And I’m as guilty as anyone of not seeing the other side. But my 18-year old, he does. He can hold the idea that while one opinion is abhorrent to him, he can still acknowledge and understand the other side. He can discuss and articulate with thoughtful reflection on a topic currently bringing out the absolute worst in people. And he understands that unless others are willing to discuss, to listen, to try to see another’s point of view, no progress can be made and no consensus can be reached. And, once again, I am in awe of the adults my children are becoming.