I often hear parents say “choose your battles” and there is an element of truth, but I also see many families struggling. I’m going to offer an alternative-Choose TO battle! If we don’t choose to battle, we’ll lose the war.
Imagine that those in combat didn’t feel like fighting that day.
Things would not go well. They are tired, wounded, exhausted, fearing for their lives and the lives of those around them. They have volunteered their lives to serve those around them and to protect. While the image is not a direct parallel, the concept remains. You are in a daily battle for the lives of your children. You fight for their safety, well-being, character development, future, relationships and ultimately their lives. If you don’t choose to battle with your children-by teaching and disciplining when required-you will lose the war. If you are too tired today, you don’t get the day off. It may be true that it doesn’t matter if you let them wear the red or blue shirt, or give them grace if they come home 5 minutes after curfew, but if you constantly give and never set the limits, in the end they will lose.
Imagine your 5 year old is rude, disrespectful and constantly throwing tantrums
…now imagine that child at 15….they may not be throwing themselves on the floor, but they will be demanding, disrespectful and likely will not listen to your rules. It seems easier in the moment to allow it and give in. “Choose your battles” you say, “this isn’t worth fighting over. Its not that big of a deal if I give in just this once.”
If you have never chosen to fight the good fight why would you expect them to listen when they are older?
But take heart! This does not mean if you have chosen not to battle when your children are young there is no hope–there’s always hope. The road is long and you may feel weary, but there is always room for improvement!
So if you have a chance to CHOOSE TO BATTLE, take it!
You may become weary, but you’ll have everything to gain. When you are tired, ask for help. When you are frustrated, talk to other parents who have similar values. When you are angry, walk away–and return later to address what happened. When you make a mistake, apologize and try again-that’s what you are teaching your kids anyway!
Choosing to battle means being willing to set limits, say no and stick to it–no matter how badly we feel, how much guilt we experience over taking away something they value, or how miserable we feel at the challenge that lies ahead to make it all worth it. Parenting well is no easy task!
Change takes time.
You can’t expect things to be different overnight. Give it a month…or two. Work on one thing at a time and a revel in the small victories! Lets talk with your children. Explain what is going to be different, why and what the new expectations are. If you can find a way to connect and help them recognize their strengths and the ways you can help them grow, that makes it worth it. Your kids will have a chance to be successful, loving, kind, generous, empathetic people who can give you a chance to be grandparents and do everything you wanted to do for your kids 😉