Kids force you to either slow down and have patience, or just lose your mind. I’ve gone the losing-my-mind route enough that I’m starting to relent and take the slow-down route.
In the most simple of ways, I’m starting to learn how to choose my battles with my boys a bit more wisely.
Abel, our 2-year-old, is the more independent and strong-willed of our kids. I can’t think of a task that he doesn’t respond to me with, “NO! I do it.” Then I wait 5–10 minutes for him to do what would’ve taken me 30 seconds.
There’s also the other option where I respond, “I’m gonna do it this time, buddy. Dad is in a hurry.”
This typically results in tears and screaming. Sometimes it’ll be a fight over an object like a toothbrush or pair of pants. Eventually one of us wins.
When I win we get to where we’re headed much faster. But it takes quite a while for the tears to die down.
When Abel wins, I wonder why I wasted 5 minutes fighting over something ridiculous.
The picture above is Abel in the clothes he chose for the day. As you can see he is wearing shorts, which he informed me are “his favorite.” The only problem is that, though it looks sunny, it’s actually 30 degrees.
This was one of those battles I chose to not fight, and I’m glad I didn’t. I made several suggestions of various pairs of pants in his drawer, but left the decision to him. I also informed him that it “is really cold outside.” But in the end, “No. These are my favorite.”
I keep coming to these places in parenting when I ask myself, “What’s the point of having this battle?”
In my mind I’m caring about my child. My intentions are good. I want him to be warm on this frigid day. As the older, wiser human, I know better. So let’s do it my way.
But in Abel’s mind he is his own person with his own opinions. This should be his choice.
He certainly felt the consequence of his decision. But didn’t really care because shorts are his favorite. He was cold, but happy because he was wearing what he wanted.
At the end of the day it feels like that is what parenting is supposed to be. I give him options and explain what I think is best and why. He makes the decision and lives with it.
If I force him into the decision I want, or I think is right, it feels like I’m forcing him into who I want. I don’t want an Adam clone. I want an Abel. On a day like today, I wouldn’t (and didn’t) wear shorts. But Abel would. He gets to be himself and I should enjoy that he is.
What kind of battles do you have with your kids that you should quit having?
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