Choose your battles well..
This would be the single piece of advice I’d give to parents of teens and tweens. As a counselor, teacher, and parent, it’s brought sanity to otherwise overwhelming circumstances.
I wished I learned it earlier.
Instead, I learned it the hard way.
I’ll be honest – I was over-bearing and reactionary when my older children were young. I was so intent on raising them well, I said “no” way too much.
When my oldest was sixteen, most things were a battle. Our family was falling apart
Here are 5 things I’ve learned about choosing battles.
1. Relationships with your children are more important than your rights. Parental rights are something to which you innately cling. When your rights strain your relationship with your teen over trivial things, lay your rights aside. Your relationship with your teen is more important.
2. “No” should for rare occasions. There are big moments when you have to say “no,” when you need your teen to respect and obey your decision. When you give them freedom and trust in little things
., they’re less likely to fight when you need to make big decisions. Choose your battles over when and how often you say “no.” Most of them should be for health, safety, or moral reasons.
3. Give them space that’s their own. Teen development thrives when they learn independence and identity in their time and space. Whether it’s physical space like their bedroom or car, in their dress, or their extra-curricular activities, honor their space and independence unless it’s a harm issue. Their room might be messy or their dress style uncomfortable for you. Chill out. Unless it’s a health, safety, or moral issue, give them their space.
4. Listening to your child will eliminate battles. Tune into the verbal and non-verbal things your child tells you. Take time to listen and ask questions you don’t understand in a caring, supportive manner. You’ll learn a lot. Most kids want peace with their parents. Instead of talking at your teen, listen to them. The battles will decrease and your relationship will grow.
5. Make the battle worth fighting, and be willing to stand firm. When your essential battles are moral, health, and safety factors, you’ll need to firmly stand in decisions and discipline. You’ll be tempted to give in because the conflict, push-back, or negative emotions is too much to handle. That’s why the battles worth fighting need to be important and few.
Give up the clean bedroom. You may have a bigger battle for your teen’s soul.
When the storms come, you’ll need energy to stand firm.
Teens have enough challenges with peers, society, and self-image to worry about a parent nagging them over their hair. They may need a close relationship with you to help them walk away from friends doing illegal activity.
Which battle is most important to fight?
What battles are you currently fighting with your teen or tween? Where may you need to back off or dig in, ready to stand firm for what’s most important?
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