Firebirdlifecoach's Blog

Pursuing a Passionate Life

Keeping the Peace, Choosing your Battles (aka – Prioritizing – Part 1) January 7, 2010

You know, I think one of the most useful bits of parenting wisdom I ever received is “choose your battles”. When you have kids you realize pretty darn quickly that this is an ever-evolving, ever-revolving series of considerations and compromises. It starts pretty early and apparently it never ends. According to Erik Erikson the “Father of Developmental Psychology”, human development can be broken down into eight developmental stages – each stage provides its own set of challenges which need to be successfully negotiated before moving on to the next stage. In the toddler years – the challenge is “Will: Autonomy –versus- Shame and Self-Doubt”. So as parents – our challenge is to support them in developing their autonomy while still setting what we deem to be the proper limits and guidelines based on our beliefs and sense of safety for their welfare. But “it ain’t as easy as it sounds”.
At the early stages it may be about a decision to let them take a few more slides at the playground to avoid a tantrum. As they get older it could be about what snacks they eat and when, how much time they get on the computer or game system, how late they can stay out or how long they can grow their hair. Each decision requires us to consider how serious we are about the various outcomes. Various factors weigh in – maybe you are too tired to say “no” and deal with the consequences, maybe you aren’t that invested in the particular issue at hand, maybe you want to let them make the decision on their own and trust that they will choose wisely and deal with the outcomes of their choice.
At all stages of their lives you need to assess the situation – “is this one I am willing to put up a fight for, deal with the fall-out from or simply let go”? How you answer the daily challenges is effected by so many factors, and in a lot of ways it breaks down to the simple endless need to prioritize, analyze and weigh the possible outcomes. Being a parent is a constant balancing act between holding on and letting go – how we think about it, the importance of our actions/decisions requires constant consideration, a lot of energy, a sense of our own values and continued presence. But if we engaged in a battle when we should have given in, or vice versa, the good news is, if we are lucky, we will likely get another million opportunities to rethink our previous strategy. Woohoo!