No one wants to go to battle with their child, we as parents want peace and sometimes we are so exhausted by our daily work/responsibilities that we simply want to give in. And all of us at times do give in. Even tough-minded parents, on important issues, ask themselves: “is it worth it to go to battle over this?” As a parent you do need to pick your battles. As a parent, child counselor. and behavioral scientist, I am going to share a story that illustrates which battles you should never give in on.
My example of this comes from some parents I have been working with who have their child in a extracurricular academic program that challenges their 10-year-old to do certain math and reading assignments every night over and above what he does at school.
These parents have their child doing this because the school the fourth-grader is attending is not giving homework and they do not think their child is being challenged enough. Their decision to have their child in this extra academic program is reasonable and their child has been completing the work, although only after consistent complaining and gnashing of teeth. Overall, this child has been participating in this program for half a year with constant complaining. However, these parents have showed True Grit and stuck with it, even though their child’s unhappiness with the program has made the home environment much less peaceful than if they had simply given in and let the child discontinue the program.
Out of the clear blue sky comes an earth shattering thunderbolt! Suddenly, there 10-year-old is obtaining straight A’s in school and suddenly thanking his parents for having him in this extracurricular academic program. The child himself recognizes the value of this extra academic stimulation now.
An atmosphere of peace settled in their home. The battle(for now) is over, in the child has learned a valuable lesson: sometimes even if you hate something it can turn out to be the best thing that ever happened to you.
Now let’s look at this as if the parents had given in:
-this antibiotics child would not have done as well in school
-their boy would more strongly believe they can grind their parents down
-their 10-year-old would not have learned as much about the value of WORKING THROUGH their anger
-this boy would not have learned for as much about the value of sticking with something no matter what your feelings are for a greater goal.
Here is my point fellow exhausted parents: do not give and on the important issues!!!! These parents stuck to their guns because in their heart of hearts they knew the school their child was not being challenged appropriately at school. They intelligently augmented his academic experience, and they suffered through six months of complaints and irritability of their 10-year-old boy. They handled this by coldly reminding the child that they did not think the child was being challenged enough. They did not let themselves get pulled into discussions, but they did show respect for their child’s feelings. But they did not let their child’s feelings be the ultimate arbiter of their decision.
They understood parenting is not about immediate gratification, but vastly delayed gratification. After all, you (and your child!!!) are likely to not see the fruits of your parenting unto your children have left home and are on their own.
Parenting is a long-distance race not a sprint, and there are times when you given him little issues. But on the big issues, on the issues that relate to Core Values, do not ever give in. So many parents I know do wind up giving in, and their life is much easier, at least until their child goes into the real world. Bottom line: be exhausted now and until they go to college, or ready yourself to be disappointed for your child’s entire adult life.
Your child will not learn core values unless you are willing to stick to your guns in value related situations. When you give in, the only thing you are getting is momentary peace of mind. And it won’t last long, because now you’re child feels even more confident they can win the next battle.