Thursday, July 21, 2016

Choosing Battles

"Choose your battles" 
You could say this about friendships. 
About marriages. 
About almost anything. 
But I think it most accurately applies to children. 

Because I'm an amateur parent, 
(I.e. I'm in the midst of my first ever toddler experience)
 there's still a lot of battles I choose. 
I fight the battle of matching clothes. 
I fight the battle of screen time. 
I fight the battle on taking toys out of the house. 
I'm well aware that Future Emily may fight less battles. 

Probably my most passionate battle is the food battle. 
From the beginning, I stood my ground on pickiness. 

My motto: 
"If you don't like what's in front of you, that's fine. 
You don't have to eat it. But you aren't getting anything else.
This has meant tantrums, 
going to bed without supper, 
and all sorts of other pleasantries. 
Through all my battles, one of the lines that repeats over and over in my head: "Scientifically*, a child will not allow themselves to starve." 
*see disclaimer below* 
 It really truly comes down to how much of a battle you're willing to fight. 
And after all my fighting, I've been rewarded with a child who eats pretty much everything. 

Aaron abandoning his PBJ for salad. 

So what battles do I not fight? 
Here's one that people raise an eyebrow at: 
Picking up toys. 

I very rarely make Aaron pick up his toys. 
Like almost never. 
Every now and then I'll throw out a 
"you can't get [x] until you pick up Legos" 
but that's pretty infrequent. 

One of the many reasons I don't fight this battle is because I actually LIKE picking up toys myself.  
I know WEIRD. 
I like sorting them and putting them all away properly. 
Additionally, thanks to our finished basement, where Aaron plays the most, 
if I don't feel in the mood, I simply don't see it and it doesn't bother me. 

But oh the social implications!!! 
He won't learn responsibility! 
He'll grow up to be a slob! 
Bad, parent, bad! 
Yeah maybe you're right. 

But I don't feel like it's any more detrimental than your child's malnourished brain from eating a diet of processed chicken nuggets.  
Let's agree to call it a wash, shall we? 

The reason I write this post was witnessing this sharp contrast the other day. 
We were out at a mutual friend's house. 
The other visiting child refused dinner, only accepting frozen chicken nuggets (his whole diet in life is oatmeal, chicken nuggets, and applesauce), 
while Aaron ate everything we ate (salad included!). 
Me mentally: "ah look at that parenting win!"  
Then the kids go play. 
When done, the mom instructs her son to pick up and he does so without question, 
neatly putting away every toy. 
Aaron takes a look at the mess and promptly walks away. 
Me mentally: "Well I guess now we're even."  

This has spawned a lot of conversations with my mom friends about which battles we pick and which we don't. 
It's fascinating really. 
Even more interesting when battles change from one child to another. 
Like fighting the food battle with one but not the other. 

What battles do you pick or not care about? 

*Just like every wide-sweeping statement, there are exceptions. 
There are most definitely children who may have mental disabilities or eating disorders. 
For these children, it is recommended to seek professional help. 
Not just a casual "oh my kid doesn't eat" to the pediatrician, 
but an actual meeting with a counselor who specializes in this. 


  1. Always interesting to see which battles other parents do and do not pick! I'd say we are sort of middle ground on the food thing. We don't let them have another meal in place of what's being offered, BUT because I'm a fairly picky/boring eater, we also don't exactly push them to eat a lot of new/different foods. And if we're having a casserole or something and they start picking out the onions or tomatoes, I don't care, as long as I don't have to do the work to extract them myself :)
    We do make the twins clean up, but only to an extent. For example, if it's something that can be easily thrown in a box or put in a certain spot, then we'll have them do it, but if it's a box that has to be packed a certain way for items (blocks or whatever) to neatly fit, then I prefer to tackle that myself.
    I do pick the battle of matching clothes and logical clothes, eg: I won't let them wear sweaters in the summer or flip flops in the winter, etc. I also make Colby wear collared shirts to church, even though he argues about it almost every time.
    Something I almost never pick a battle about is a request for a "treat" after meals. We do stick to the "you have to finish your food to get the treat" rule, but there are a lot of times that they've probably had enough "treats" for the day and don't need another one but I let them anyway.
    Oh, and I also let them take toys to their beds, even though I don't like the clutter it creates and purge them 1-2x/week. I also let them take toys to the car, but unless it's a "car toy" that stays in the toy bucket, they have to take it back inside with them when we get home.
    WOW, sorry, novel of a comment... and I could keep going!

  2. The food issue is a complex one in our house. Trent was a very picky eater from the very beginning to the point we had him in speech and occupational therapy because he wouldn't eat ANY fruits or vegetables except pouches. Now, at 7, he eats apples and carrots ONLY (plus about 6 pouches a day, ha), and I mix spinach/tomatoes/etc. into food to get him his greens (he knows I do this and doesn't mind but he hates to eat spinach raw). He uses his tongue incorrectly so he has a lot of issues with textures. So he would eat chips all day if I let him. But we've learned a balance and my goal is to make sure I'm still somehow getting him fruits and veggies (and yes, I count the pouches!) and lots of other things - so he eats hard-boiled eggs, lots of protein, cheese, pecans, and a few other things. Drew, on the other hand, eats a TON of fruits and vegetables. She just finished a snack of raw bell peppers! I never battle about clothes - Drew is adamant about what she will wear, and I just tell her to pick it out and dress herself, and she does, while Trent couldn't care less what he wears and at 7 I still pick out his clothes almost daily. I make them clean up periodically but we always help/supervise, they will brush their teeth every day, I don't let them have very much juice or sugary drinks (chocolate milk), I am super anal about sugar/carbs trying to focus on 'whole foods'. I am probably a pretty anal parent, ha!