When We Argue: An Ode to Passionate Parenting


When we argue—and you know, it’s always about them—his voice rises, or my eyes struggle to maintain contact with his, and I feel the burden of their existence so much more.

It’s always them, because there really isn’t anything other than them to raise the hackles and incite the kind of passion that they can.

We met each other and fell into each other’s lives, way back in the age when our opinions were still forming and our worldviews were still developing their shapes.

We grew up together and settled our psyches toward acceptance.

We are accustomed by now—enough—to each other’s differences to find them amusing and entertaining…when we recognize these differences at all. I am realizing that we would probably be able to carry along in a bubble of couplehood, privileged by its exclusivity, convenience and comfort, but for the fact that we made these children together, and we must learn to work together and team up to help them grow and thrive.

I think about how easy it would be to just amble along and acquiesce to his wishes, or how simple it would seem if he just let go—released his grip and let his values and standards fall aside in an effort to keep his peace with me.

We have, however, always supported each other, even in opposition.

On the contrary, we gloried and prided ourselves in helping each other cultivate our own sense of self, in spite of occasional misalignment.

After all, there were three in this marriage—Abe, myself and our relationship.

Just because he has cultivated an opinion or view that is not completely in agreement with my own does not mean that I am less proud that, with my support and approval, he was capable of growing into himself, the quirky wonderful, outspoken and original person of integrity that he is.

I get some of the credit for the provision of the materials and input which he was furnished with on this journey, and I have always actively encouraged him to develop his own ideas and worldview apart from mine. I’m sure he feels the same about me.

We found each other in late adolescence and forged our union with the intention of creating a healthy dynamic in which two disparate personalities might flourish and thrive, while still defending each other against the world.

Nobody ever said raising children would be easy. I would be fooling myself if I said that I would rather have had a carefree, child-free existence. If there is one thing that children contributed to both of our lives as well as to our marriage, it is the idea that life is larger than self, and that in order to be a well-rounded, engaged and authentic participant of our own life story, we must become involved in causes greater than our own personal survival.

Abe and I have always understood that children teach us how to be less selfish and more forgiving.

Parenting has taught us about resilience, versatility, resourcefulness and creativity, and the inherent frailty and faultiness of the sacred cows and high horses that we nurture and sustain in our opinionated and passionate youth.

To you my children, I say once more, as I have a thousand times before. You were born to parents who wanted you, and like little pickles in a jar, you were marinated in our own special brand of love. We have brought you up to believe in goodness and human potential, and we have tried to impart a love of life and a thrill of adventure and boundary testing, while always maintaining a healthy perspective and an appreciation and acceptance of human imperfections.

There is no doubt that we have offered you a place to live deep within our hearts and psyches, and have spread our imaginations to encompass whatever and whoever you are…and are becoming.

We ask only that you try to imagine that we too are experiencing growing pains along with you in your journey to adulthood.

We will make mistakes and own them. We will scramble our messages, slip up or lose some of our conviction, even sometimes change our minds, or perhaps make you feel as if you are tripping up, but we will always try and catch you if you fall.

Daddy and I sometimes pinch ourselves in disbelief at the wonder of your unfolding. You are already providing us with glimpses of your adult selves, and we are thrilled and more by what you are becoming. It has been a road trip like no other, and we are better, finer humans because G-d graced us with your sweet presence.

Carry on.

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Mirel Adler is an Orthodox Jewish writer and Clinical Social Worker who lives in a small vibrant community in South Jersey with her 4 opinionated biological children and an assortment of chosen family members. She has a therapy practice which services Lakewood and Cherry Hill, specializing in helping families communicate well. Mirel actually has a husband who loves to cook, which frees her up to get into no end of adventures! Mirel writes and reads her original poetry as a spoken word artist who frequently performs at open mic events in South Jersey and Philadelphia.