(Stock photo) It is up to each parent to strike this parenting balance, but I think it’s good to begin with choosing our battles carefully. Certain kinds of rebellions may be considered safe rebellion and are normal and healthy. Adolescents are pulling away from mama’s apron strings and becoming their own individual persons, so some rebelling is necessary.
Choosing Your Parenting Battles
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AUGUST 16, 2007
Craig Harris, HappyNews Columnist

Parents, we don’t want our homes filled with fussing and fighting, but we don’t want the inmates to run the asylum either. There must be a balance. I think the best advice is to choose your battles wisely and stick to your guns on certain issues, while remaining more flexible on others.
Parenting experts say the best parents are moderately strict. Not too strict, or too lenient. Overly strict or controlling parents run the risk of forcing their children to rebel. Think of squeezing a bird in your hand; it will do everything in its power to escape your grasp. Some children feel this way. Other children have security issues because their parents are not setting proper boundaries around them. Boundaries may constrict us, but they also offer us much comfort. Children need that.
It is up to each parent to strike this parenting balance, but I think it’s good to begin with choosing our battles carefully. Certain kinds of rebellions may be considered safe rebellion and are normal and healthy. Adolescents are pulling away from mama’s apron strings and becoming their own individual persons, so some rebelling is necessary. I think hairstyles usually fall into this “safe” category. I would rather my children have wild hair than wild friends. Hair will grow back or change color. Tattoos, on the other hand, are permanent and not necessarily safe. So in our home, we’ll be strict about no tattoos, but perhaps more lenient about hairstyles.
Parents should be rock solid on matters of safety and health, but flexible on most other issues. Since a curfew concerns safety, it should be a battle we choose to fight. But we can back off some on matters like when to wear ear rings and make-up; when to do chores, clothing styles, friendships, or even hours in front of the television. Stand firm on the importance of study time, school attendance, proper nutrition, and personal hygiene. In our home, church attendance is also not subject to debate.
I know of parents who enforce a strict bedtime, whether it is summer or during the school year. In our home, you’ll find us more lenient on this. In the summer, we let the kids stay up until midnight if they want. For me this is just an issue that is not worth a fight. I know we are going to have plenty of battles as the kids stretch their wings, and I’m saving my strength for the ones that I feel really matter. I don’t want our home to feel like a battlefield, full of yelling and arguing. I also want my kids to feel they are slowly taking control of their own lives. This is important to their esteems and maturity.
Parents must manage every aspect of their infants’ lives. Then they gradually give their children more and more freedoms until releasing them from the nest. I’ve read that as a rule, parents should basically be friends with their children by the time they graduate from high school, offering only helpful advice. This way the young adults are ready to conduct their lives and make good decisions when they go to college or out on their own.
So, choose your battles wisely and don’t back down from what you feel is important or worthy of conflict. But show your kids that you know you are human, compassionate, and not perfect. Lose some battles if that’s what it takes to live in a loving, peaceful, but safe home. And be moderately strict; not too strict or too lenient. Your children will love you for it.
Contact Craig at lcraigharris.blogspot.com.