Gary's blog for couples and parents plus resources for individuals, leaders and churches.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Wise Parents Learn to Pick Their Battles

Some of us are old enough to remember Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Anyone who's ever seen the movie likely recalls the final scene where the two main characters are surrounded by more firepower than they will ever be able to handle. It's over because there is no way they can fight against everyone. They are outnumbered.

Sometimes we need to look at parenting the same way. No, not as though we are defeated and will die! But we often have to admit that we can't and don't need to fight and win every battle with our children. We will probably have to choose which ones are most important. We just don't have enough firepower to go around.

So, how do we decide?  Well, first of all, ask yourself, "Is this a decision a child should make or not?"  Choices about whether they're going to get in the car and leave with us or if they are going to go to bed at a predetermined time really shouldn't be theirs. We're the parent and we determine those things in most cases.

However, if clothing is an issue, is their choice really that big a deal or can we give them a choice of some kind and move on?  Does the choice of video game or doll to play with really matter at the moment?

Second, consider, "What's the negative consequence of giving them their choice?  It might be that we are giving them the liberty to be belligerent or to disobey and not be disciplined. Probably not a good outcome. Another negative might be that they will spend money unwisely or get into a dangerous situation. So of course we need to be firm and take the heat for saying "no."

However, if the potential result isn't a big deal we have a little more leeway in determining whether this battle is worth the energy to fight. And remember as children get older they need to learn to make good choices.

Third, does their action fly in the face of some fundamental principle that you want them to learn? Does giving them their way on something teach them to be deceptive, ornery, impolite, manipulative or whatever?

I'm sure you can come up with other good questions between you and your spouse or on your own. Just remember that some fights simply aren't worth it especially when the results aren't destructive, harmful or long lasting. Sometimes we might just be putting too much of our parenting success on winning small battles when really it's the longer term results that are the better indicators.
Gary Sinclair Writer | Speaker | Leader

Gary is currently a consultant, teacher, speaker and chaplain providing resources for families, leaders and churches.

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