Parenting, Wisdom

Picking your battles wisely (with kids)

A friend shared a post on Facebook yesterday that I absolutely loved. These are the types of posts that I truly live for on social media- it felt insightful, relevant, valuable and it spoke to me.

I clicked “save!” “save!” as fast as I could. 😉

The main point I took away was that parenting is hard. (It is always a nice reminder to know that other people find this to be true, too. I’ve found parenting to be rather hard this week myself.)

And, that it’s extra hard to know how to walk that fine line between smothering our children with rules and “have to’s” and running a total free-for-all show/ letting our kids rule the roost.

As a kind of self-admitting control freak (in some ways), I also admit I’m not always super great at just letting certain things go. (As in, sometimes I pick all the battles, all the time.)

However, I’m not saying that I’m overly strict, because I definitely don’t think that I am, either. But there are many areas of parenting (especially lately, as the boys are getting older), where I’m not really sure what the heck I should be doing. I’m an “indecisive control freak”, which is a very confusing personality trait. 😂

Sometimes I worry that I’m too permissive. (Argh, I’m totally lax! I let them sit on their phones all day! We have no rules!!!!)

Other days I think maybe I’m expecting too much. (So-and-so didn’t need to do all these chores today. It’s Saturday. Is this overkill? He’s only 12. He’s so busy all the time. I don’t know…)

It all kind of…ebbs and flows, depending on the day. Honestly, I am just not always sure. Trial and error at it’s best, with big stakes. 😆

Test subjects 1.0 and 2.0

This list of “8 Fights Worth Picking With Your Kids” seemed spot on to me.

These are 8 areas that the modern world and/or our children might sometimes argue that we should just “let go”, but this argues these are worth fighting for! (I’m summarizing this Twitter post/ adding my own commentary, but I did not come up with these 8 points. I love them, though. If they aren’t right for you, that’s okay, too.)

1. The Reading fight. Make your kids read! It is important, and worth it. Even if they don’t like it, make them read, at least sometimes. It’s proven to provide many benefits, cognitively and beyond. Not everyone will grow up to be a bookworm; that’s okay. But while they live under my roof, I’m going to force this one. (Luckily, my kids generally do really like to read, but it definitely has fallen to the wayside more often now as other interests (aka glowing boxes with screens) have moved in…).

2. The Outside fight. Make them go outside. Learning to appreciate nature, explore the world, exercise and get fresh air are okay things to be non-negotiables in your house.

3. The Work fight. It is okay to expect your kids to work. Many life lessons come from learning to do good work and be held to high standards. “Making” kids do chores and contribute to the household is absolutely okay. More than okay. We are also 100% planning to have our kids get actual jobs in some capacity as teenagers. There is SO much to be learned from those early working years.

4. The Meal fight. It is also okay to require people in your family to eat together. I personally think this does not need to look the same in every household- maybe it means a take-out pizza around the kitchen island some nights. Doesn’t have to be a sit down meal with linen napkins. Doesn’t have to be every day! Maybe it means sitting in a booth at McDonald’s. Whatever! But find time to connect regularly. I’ll add on: teaching the kids about balanced meals, nutrition and how to cook should also be non-negotiables, in my opinion. (Need to work more on this around here.)

5. The Boredom fight. Make the kids have some times in their life when they are not being entertained. This seems to be a major problem even for adults these days in our high tech world. Our attention spans can be pretty pathetic. “Forcing” kids to endure some boredom will serve them very, very well. We shouldn’t feel guilty about this. We do not want to give constant external stimuli and “raise an activity addict”, as the original author stated.

6. The “Me First” fight. For the love of God, teach the kids the world does not revolve around them. They don’t always get to go first. In fact, in many cases, they shouldn’t go first! This is huge for us at our house, especially for Ivan. He’s not perfect, but he is an absolute gentleman in this regard. The Mexican culture tends to be very generous, and manners are a very, very big deal. Teach them to put others first. Hold the door. Don’t take the biggest slice of pizza from the box. Don’t reach for the cake first at the party. WAIT. Let someone else pick the TV show sometimes. Oh, this is such a fight worth having, IMO. Always a work in progress with kids, but sooooo important.

7. The Awkward Conversation fight. We are in the thick of this at our house. The boys are fully entering the “teen” years, and there’s lots of fun stuff to be talked about. 🙃 Ya-hoo. LOL. But seriously, this needs to be non-negotiable. If we do not talk about the hard stuff, someone else (likely another…teenager) or some internet page will.

8. The Limitation fight. To quote the original page: “Learning to live within limits is a valuable life skill.” YES. Another quote: “Screen time limits, dietary limits, activity limits, and schedule limits are all good.” They NEED to learn how to self-limit, too. This is a big ongoing lesson at our house. It’s one thing for me to shut down the internet; but I won’t be there in college to do that! So we need to work on learning self-imposed limits, too. Self-management. Also, I’d like to add: MONEY limits! Learning that things are not free, and you cannot have all/ do all/ buy everything that someone else might be able to. Learning to be content with what they have now (and learning to make smart choices) will pay off massively down the road. And, maybe prevent serious credit card debt one day. 😅

I just loved this topic so much. Anyone have anything to add? Or subtract?

Trying my best. Made it this far!

Daily Gratitude:

I am grateful that the birds are back out chirping bright and early. In the winter I guess they sleep in (or have smartly left for Mexico, perhaps). But I love that in spring/ summer, even if I wake up really early, they are always up first.

10 thoughts on “Picking your battles wisely (with kids)”

  1. Very thought-provoking post. I think my parents probably taught up the 8 things listed, although some of us were better at adhering to those lessons? Or they sunk in better for us? Parenting was sooo different when I was growing up, though, and with 5 kids and a busy career I think my parents had to let some things slide. But the importance of hard work seemed to stick for all of us. My good friend at work has a freshman in college and high school so it’s been interesting to hear about some of the parenting challenges they face, especially with their daughter who is a freshman in HS. I’m in a really physically exhausting stage of parenting but he’s in a very mentally exhausting stage of parenting!

    I appreciate how the Latin cultures really seem to instill politeness, hospitality, and respect.


    1. Asher has several swim friends who have older siblings. I actually do really love kind of “following along” with some of them (I’m friends with the parents), as the older kids approach driving, graduation, college ,etc. It’s like a little sneak peak into what’s to come! Ha.


  2. Very valuable points. I agree with all of them. Now that my daughter is in her senior year at school, she is very busy. So my main fight is over sleep. I make sure that she has at least six hours of sleep every night. I also make sure that she eats well and gets some fresh outside air.


    1. Yes, sleep is huge! I remember that age. I had a ton of advanced classes those years and I remember being exhausted!! Trying to juggle it all. I know I didn’t sleep enough in my junior/ senior years, staying up late studying and doing homework…. Good luck to your daughter! Does she have plans for next year yet?


      1. My daughter is pursuing science and wants to get into research and stay in the academics field. She would be giving exams to try and get into some of the best colleges in our country. The competition is very high so it all depends on her scores.


  3. The Money Fight – dividing their money into saving, spending and church. Talking about the true costs of things like cars and college. After your posts on the spreadsheet, I have started researching family budgets – we are the family that just looks for a positive bank balance and maybe kids should learn something more than that.

    The Food Fight – teaching correct portions, trying to cut out junk food, and probably looking insane to people at gatherings because there’s a family history of overeating and alcoholism.

    It’s weird that I worry about this all the time and 10 years from now the kids will just remember I was “there”.


    1. Yes to everything you said. I love the dividing the money up idea. We actually were better about that when the boys were younger, when we gave them an “allowance” in cash. We had those piggy banks with the different slots, and we would make them allocate X amount to each one every week. Eventually we’d take them to the bank to deposit their little savings, and then take the “giving money” to church for offering. Now we transfer their allowances electronically on their Kids debit cards….and we’ve totally fallen off of some of that division into spending/saving categories. Thanks for reminding me of this. I should do a post on kids and money/allowance habits sometime. Maybe people would have some good tips.

      Re: the spreadsheets….good luck! I really am not great at any of that stuff either tbh. It overwhelms me some when I get too detailed. I do have a spreadsheet system, but I’d say it’s really more of a “tracking” system, not a true “budget”. A budget would ideally be more forward looking, whereas our system tends to look backwards and track/ categorize after the fact. Better than nothing I guess. I’m working on maybe implementing a few changes. I also agree with you, that I need to think on this topic and how it relates to what we are teaching the boys. Should probably be a bit more intentional with educating them on personal finances at some point.


  4. love your list! I’d just add to respect and treat everyone equally. in my case because we have house helpers, sometimes kids can think they are their employees and treat them like so. so I keep insisting to say please thank you and ask things nicely.


  5. I really, really love this list and agree with it 100%.

    One lesson my husband was raised with is “you’re not better than anyone else, and nobody else is better than you”. I love that way of thinking.

    One thing I really try to instil in A is that when we are blessed, we share what we have and help others. With her learning difficulty, we have to simplify concepts and the easiest for her to see and understand is homelessness – some people are literally sitting out on the street because they have no house. If we have pennies in our purse, we should share with people who have less.

    She’s taken it to heart so well and will often spot a homeless person before I do and prompt me to give money. We buy food and donate it to the food bank. Recently, school asked for donations for vulnerable people in the community and I took A to the shop and asked her to fill a basket with things; it was a great chance to talk about what we might most want or need if we had little. During that particular trip, she picked up the biggest bar of chocolate and I told her she could get herself some chocolate but not a huge bar like that. She looked at me and said, “it’s not for me, it’s for the people who don’t have much”. She really has the kindest heart 🙂


  6. Love this list and like just about everyone else here – agree with all the points!
    I’m trying to think of others, but my mind is mush.
    I think as a parent it’s also helpful to see where our kids strengths lay (lie? I can never remember the correct grammatical phrasing for lie/lay; sigh). For example, between my two children one is far more thoughtful with spending their money (albeit small amounts) and I feel like I have less to instill on this topic. Conversely, the child that is better with money, is less empathetic…so I feel like it can flip/flop in where my focus needs to be in helping guide them. If that makes sense?

    A great post and a great reminder of how much (positive) influence we can have in our kiddos lives.


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