Once I was engaging--against my better judgment--in a power struggle with my daughter, Evelyn, who was probably not even two years old at the time, regarding what she should wear one morning. Throughout our conversation there was sassiness, a demanding attitude, and just downright rudeness. And it's embarrassing to admit it, but she wasn't the culprit.
The negativity was coming from me.
I wanted her to wear what I wanted her to wear because, well, I'm the mom--that's why. It's what I had picked out and what I thought looked right. But nowadays, this type of battle doesn't take place, for the sake of my sanity and hers. I decided at some point along the way just to let this one go. I can't remember the exact moment it which I decided this--I don't know if it was that particular day or if it took me a while. But I eventually realized that some things, well, really most things, just aren't worth fighting over.
As Evelyn has grown, she has become so independent, so spunky, so full of an energetic personality, and she loves to make her own choices, especially regarding her daily wardrobe. So at some point I stopped and asked myself, “Who cares?!”
What difference does it make if she wears stripes with polka dots? Or a leotard with a straw farmer’s hat? Or a sundress to bed? And yes, these have all happened. Frequently. In the grand scheme of things, as long as we are not getting ready for a super special occasion (in which case, I still typically give her a say in the matter, by giving her two pre-selected outfits from which to choose) it really doesn't matter if she wants to wear something crazy. I'm sure I’m not alone when I feel like each morning seems like an Olympic feat in and of itself, getting all kids dressed, ready, and out the door on time for school/daycare/a day of running errands/whatever you may be doing. So anything I can do to streamline our morning routine, I'm going to do it! And if we are hunkering down for a day, or evening, at home, all bets are off, you never know what she'll come up with!
There are bigger fish to fry
Why engage in a power struggle with a toddler over something as silly as her clothing choices? I decided that there are bigger fish to fry, and if she wants to choose her own ensembles, outlandish as they may be, that's fine by me. And sometimes, they're really not crazy at all, but they match and are quite stylish. Other times, not so much! And on those occasions, I don't put up a fight anymore, I just laugh about it after she skips out of the room, proud of herself and so happy with her choice. She is this amazingly unique girl that God has gifted me with, and I love to see her silly and sweet personality shining through in her daily decisions.
Little responsibilities lead to big ones
Yes, I want to be a mom who instills discipline and responsibility in my children’s hearts and minds. I want them to be good listeners and obey what my husband and I tell them, especially at these young and impressionable ages. But at the same time I also want to foster their independence and ability to make their own choices, since I won't always be with them. It's a difficult balance. So as far as building up their ability to make choices for themselves, it has to start small. Little responsibilities lead to big ones. As parents, it’s always tempting to be in control all of the time. But after the initial period of modeling and teaching them how to take on a certain task, it’s much easier on us as parents because our workload is now lessened, and it also gives them such a sense of importance.
Bottom line, is that time is precious, and we really need to pick our battles without focusing so much on small details. It’s okay to let some things go. Maybe, like me, it’s the battle of who gets to pick out clothes for the day. For you it may very well be something else. You’re not a bad parent for releasing some of that control to your children, who will one day be adults in charge of every aspect of their own lives. If anything, they will thank you for it, both now and farther down the road.
So, what will you let go of today?