gail schimmel

The blog of writer Gail Schimmel: A bit of writing, a bit of parenting, a bit of thinking and some book reviews

Choose your battle (a parenting tale)

2 Comments

Even though I am, at best, a highly average mom, I’ve learnt a few lessons along the way. . . so I’ve decided that my next few blogs will share some of these lessons and the stories that go with them. I’m going to tell you what I think I learnt from my experiences – but I do that with the knowledge that we all do this parenting thing in our own way, and my way is probably wrong.

So today I want to tell you why I think we should all have the words “Pick your battles” tattooed on the tops of our hands where we can’t miss it.

I may have told you this story before – if so, forgive me.

About two years ago, my daughter – then 3 – decided that she would only wear one particular outfit ALL winter. The outfit in question included too short tracksuit pants, and for a few days I tolerated it. And then suddenly – out of the blue – I made that terrible parenting decision: I decided to “draw a line in the sand”. “I’m the parent,” I told myself. “She must listen to me,” I told myself. “I am drawing a line,” I told myself.

All of these comments are a sure sign that you are about to make a mistake.

Long story short: the fight ended with the 3 year old trying to climb into the car, me trying to drag her out, and her cutting herself in the process. Basically, I allowed my daughter to get injured because I didn’t like her pants.

This year winter, she decided to wear – for reasons unknown – nothing but pyjama pants. She looked ridiculous. But this time, I asked myself if she was hurting anyone or doing something that would have long term effects on her character. The answer was a resounding “no”. So she wore pyjama pants for three months. She was happy, I was happy, her teachers were amused.

I try to do this now – ask myself what the consequences will be. And if the only consequence is that I will have failed to assert my random authority, then that’s a battle that I shouldn’t be fighting. Parenting has enough chances for asserting legitimate authority, and children have little enough autonomy.

A few days ago, my son started freaking out about the length of his shoe laces and wearing shoes. “You MUST wear your shoes,” I started, then stopped. “You know what,” I said. “Do what you want. You’re the boss of your feet.” He LOVED that, and 24 hours later, his shoes were back on.

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2 thoughts on “Choose your battle (a parenting tale)

  1. I loved reading this!

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