Parenting is a delicate balancing act between setting boundaries and fostering independence – and the path to healthy parent/child connection is dancing between the two.
Everyday, your child will make decisions you don’t agree with; and every day you’re faced with the decision on whether to step in or let it go. Not an easy decision, right? I don’t think any parent would say it is. So how do you know which battles to pick with your child and which ones to let go?
Some decisions are simply off limits, such as touching a hot stove, physical violence or not wearing a helmet. Anything that threatens your child’s safety should be addressed immediately. These battles are non-negotiable and while your child may fight back from time to time, your consistency in upholding them will show your child how much you care for them.
As children are developing, mistakes and poor decisions are inevitable; it’s okay to let them happen! Age can be a great teacher if we let it and some of your child’s greatest learning will come from them beginning to understand the consequences of their actions.
For example, let’s say your 7 year old wants to finish the entire tub of ice cream. Although you tell them to put it away, they’re insistent. In this case, the stomach ache they’ll have later may teach them not to overindulge more than you setting a limit they don’t agree with. Although it may be uncomfortable, it’s okay to back down in these situations.
A major part of development is discovering our individual identities outside of our family. With that in mind, it’s important to create this space for your child to explore who they are: but at what cost? If the battle’s a matter of character development, it’s worth intervening. For example, if you hear your daughter and her friend talking disrespectfully about a classmate behind their back, it’s important you step in and redirect them towards kindness.
On the other hand, if your daughter and her friend are always talking about the boys in their class they think are cute, you don’t need to intervene. While you may not like the conversation, it’s harmless and a natural part of being a teenager.
Overall, the question of “is this worth the argument?” is a question you’ll be answering on a case-by-case basis. Consider the wellbeing of your child and whether your intervening is for their benefit or your own. Sometimes our desire to be right or in control can cloud our judgment and as a parent, it’s important to run every decision through this lens: how will my being right benefit my child and our relationship at this moment and down the line?
As a parent, you want to practice both your authority and trust in your child simultaneously. And in choosing to let some battles go, you’ll ultimately bring more weight and trust into the battles you choose to pursue.
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