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Parents: How To Choose Your Battles

Let’s face it. You can’t win every battle with your children, and often it’s not worth it to butt heads in an effort to do so. As a parent, you only have so much time, energy and patience so why blow that on trivial affairs? Choosing which battles to engage in and which to lay to rest can be quite difficult, but it’s vital (for you and your children) to know which are worth the argument. It’s impossible as a mother or father to adhere to every rule we establish simply because we get tired, we get distracted, and life throws us curve balls. Sometimes, it’s even fun to bend the rules. Giving in is not a cop-out, and in fact, children can learn a valuable lesson in reasonability by monitoring how you decide what is truly important. However, too much inconsistency can be detrimental and change the way your children treat you as an authoritative figure in their lives. So how do you decide which battles to fight and which battles simply are not worth the argument? When it’s worth the battle: There are certain things that should always be fought for. Anything that revolves around your child’s safety or the safety of others should not even be a discussion. That is something you have to strongly enforce even if it creates a bit of an uproar. Similarly, anything that revolves around violence or emotional harm should be strongly monitored. Your child might be unaware of an unsafe situation they have put themselves in, so it’s your duty to step in and put your foot down. It’s also important to step in where you feel strongly about values. You should decide early on which ideals really matter to you and which core values are critical to instill in your children. Whether it be treating others with respect, showing appreciation, etc, establish what is important to you as a family. Keep this list to a reasonable size because if it’s extremely long, you’ll inevitably be fighting a good amount. Is the way that your child dresses really something that is worth fighting over? Ask yourself if it’s something you can live with that won’t deeply disturb you. It’s also vitally important to make sure you and your partner are on the same page. Inconsistencies for children will promote not only confusion but also the temptation to side one parent against the other, which then creates too much power for a child. Adults need to stay in charge and that is best done as a united team. How to handle the battle: If you can get through to your children without a blow out fight, that is the best answer. Try having a respectful conversation first. Or try a different tactic – put the ball in your child’s court. Let it be known that you are uncomfortable with their decision and let them decide if they want to comply. This will help with decision-making and character building. Also, make sure you actually listen to your children. They want to feel like their feelings matter and that you truly care, so be that good listener. Remember, we all have challenges with our children, but as the parent, it is our responsibility to pave the path in which they grow.

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