Rabbi Ross. A common theme in your articles is choosing your battles. My husband and I are trying to figure out which battles are worth fighting so we can make the proper decisions. How do we know when to fight a battle and when to let something go? In case you were wondering, we have two girls ages 15, 11 and a 7year-old boy. Thank you for you Avodas Hakodesh. D.F. Far Rockaway
That’s a fair question, although I actually don’t need the ages or genders of your children to answer it. I do frequently say to choose your battles, and I think that choosing them wisely is one of the common denominators of good parenting. Actually, the word “battle” is incorrect, since the fact is, that you and your children are all on the same side. Nevertheless, there will be things that you will disagree about, and for the sake of simplicity we’ll call them battles.
In my opinion, there are three types of battles you’ll end up fighting.
School battles are usually behavior or grade based. For example, if your child didn’t do well on his test or missed doing his homework a few times. These are important, since they not only affect his grades, but also teach him responsibility. You should be fighting most of these within reason. If he wants to have a friend over, play on his iPod, or anything else, he needs to have his homework done first. When there is an upcoming test, he should be studying. If he insists that he already knows the material, you can tell him as follows. “I’m ok with you not studying at all, however, if you don’t get above a 90%, you have to spend at least an hour studying with me for the next one.” (The test score and amount of time are obviously flexible and should be based on the child’s abilities.) It’s always a good idea to involve the school when necessary. It’s very important that children realize that that their parents and the school are in constant communication.
Personal battles are the toughest of all three. Here are some examples of personal battles that I’ve seen parents fighting. Making beds, chewing with mouths open, babysitting siblings, bedtime, and so much more. It’s so hard to know when a battle is worth fighting, however I can share some tips that might help you decide.
Wishing you Hatzlacha and a good Shabbos.
Rabbi Yitzie Ross is a Rebbe and has been working with parents and kids for many years. You can read more about him in the "about" section.