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November 21, 2016

The 4th Worst Piece of Relationship Advice Ever Given

Today’s piece of advice is often handed down to parents as their adorable infant transforms into an intolerable two-year old:

“You gotta learn to pick your battles.”

What folks usually mean by this is to evaluate which issues are really worth standing your ground on, and which ones you can simply let go.

What I don’t like about this is how it paints the entire relationship as warfare, an ongoing struggle between you and your strong-willed child. By carefully selecting the skirmishes you wish to fight, this advice states, you have the best chance of winning the overall war. You will be victorious over your child!!

Here’s the truth: Picking your battles only creates more combat, and relationship warfare has no victors, only casualties. We parents are not engaged in a competition with our children to see who’ll end up on top. We are lovingly preparing them for a life of their own, and that means lovingly teaching them how to make decisions, face consequences, and learn through feedback.

Does that mean you should evaluate which rules to set as ironclad, which ones can be negotiated, and what consequences go with each? Of course. But that’s not warfare against your child. That’s simply called leadership.

The only battlefield in parenting is the one within ourselves, the lifelong struggle between anxiety-driven reactions, and principle-driven responses.

Peace begins with pause,

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