Choose your battles. For many of us, this expression means very little until you become a parent -- and then it makes perfect sense. Because when it comes to parenting, you have to choose your battles. A lot. Deciding when to be soft and when to be strong is a tricky balancing act. Virginia-based mom Katie, who blogs at Our Two Little Monkeys, explained what “choose your battles” means to her: “My youngest is in the throes of ‘I do it myself,’ and I have to pick and choose where to draw the line. Crossing the street without my hand? Nope! Feeding himself tomato soup? OK, but I'll cringe at the mess the whole time. Safety is non-negotiable, and the rest is just a lesson in patience!”
What else isn’t worth fighting over with your kids? We partnered with Angel Soft and asked some of our favorite parenting bloggers which battles they choose to overlook or ignore:
Parenting shouldn’t feel like an episode of “What Not To Wear,” our bloggers agreed. Kenny, who writes at Electradaddy, said his son used to wear his socks inside out. “I used to try and stop him. Now I’m like, ‘OK. Roll with it, dude! You do your style and I’ll do mine,’” he said. And Rebecca from Mamaguru explained her take on kids’ fashion: “I take Superman to the library or a pirate to the grocery store. My kids sport stripes and plaids that capture the entire rainbow. They strut their fashion ‘don'ts’ with irresistible pride that I don’t have the heart to crush. Besides, I have my hands full controlling their behavior. Why worry about fashion?”
While sleep itself is of the utmost importance for children, how exactly a child sleeps is not, according to a few of our bloggers. Kat of Transparenting no longer battles with her son over toys in the crib. She said she had an epiphany: “My son is a great sleeper, and having a car or two means that when he wakes up in the morning, he will sometimes start playing quietly by himself.” So be it! And Gordon of Neurotic Dad said, “My 4-year-old sometimes likes to sleep on the floor, and I don’t think that’s worth fighting over. We put a blanket on him, he sleeps through the night, and everybody’s happy.”
When you ask parents what they -- ultimately -- want for their children, many will say that they just want their kids to be happy. But, the truth is, how our children feel is not something we can (or should) control, according to the bloggers we asked:
Kristin, who writes about family and relationships at her blog Two Cannoli, said her son has been reserved and cautious in new situations since he was a baby. “I realized that he adapted well when he had the chance to assess the situation without being pushed,” Kristin said. “Now that he is almost 6, I allow him time to get used to a new situation and try to prepare him as much as possible, and I let him be scared when he is scared; I tell him I am often scared too, and that seems to comfort him and give him the confidence to branch out,” she added.
David of The Daddy Complex and the author of Calm the F*ck Down: The Only Parenting Technique You’ll Ever Need believes that many parents are too quick to step in if their son or daughter complains about being bored. "When kids fall, they need to pick themselves up,” David explained. “It helps them learn self-reliance and resilience. The same thing goes for when they claim boredom. Let them be bored. Eventually, they'll find a way to entertain themselves that you probably wouldn't have thought of, even if that sometimes means surfing down the stairs on an air mattress," he (half) joked.
Nate of Improvising Fatherhood started using classic improv technique at bedtime with his 5-year-old. “The main source of my frustration had simply been me having an agenda and him not complying with that agenda,” he explained. And so, Nate decided it was OK to stray from his routine at bedtime. “I played our conversation like an improv scene, supporting and heightening his ideas. What ensued was a really nice conversation filled with a lot of giggles,” Nate said. “We can’t always drop our agenda to follow the crazy whims of our children. But the more opportunities you can find to let your kids take the lead, the more willing they will be to follow you back.” Charlie and Andy, who are the fathers behind the How To Be A Dad entertainment website share this philosophy. “Being right all the time as an adult is a futile and unworthy goal,” they wrote.
HELPING CHILDREN CHOOSE THEIR BATTLES:
Image: Getty Images/Vetta
Jeris of The SAHMMY believes that parents need to help their own children understand what is and what is not worth putting up a fight. “I wanted to stop butting heads about brushing hair and teeth before school,” Jeris said of her 9-year-old daughter. So, to help quash unnecessary battles with her on school days, she explained, “Not wanting to brush your hair is not a good battle. If you want to resist me, make it about something you are passionate about … something worth fighting for.”
We want to hear from you. How do you pick and choose your battles with your children? What’s important to you? And what’s best left ignored?
When choosing your battles, there is a time to be soft, and a time to be strong. Like parents, Angel Soft products are both soft and strong–learn more at AngelSoft.com.