Focus on the Important

When it comes to parenting, it’s important to choose your battles. While clashes may be unavoidable, it is not necessary to get pulled into every skirmish or make a bid deal about everything the child does. An effective strategy here is to ponder the answer to the question, “Will this matter a week from now?”

As a rule of thumb, only make a fuss about those issues that are harmful to the youngster or others, or are irreversible.

For example, I know one four-year-old girl who likes to put Hello Kitty bandages on her arms and legs when she has no physical need for a bandage; rather, she wears them like jewelry. I know a thirteen-year-old boy who wears a large, brightly-colored winter hat that resembles a cartoon space alien, complete with large floppy eyes. He wears it all year round, even in the summer. And I’ve seen other trends, like boys wearing baggy pants and girls putting pink and blue highlights in their hair. None of these things are very serious. While their parents may not understand or like the choices, the fact is these choices are neither harmful nor irreversible.

Remember, youngsters explore and try out different roles. These can be irritating and bewildering for parents. As painful as it may be to watch, it is one way that young people learn to function on their own. Choose your battles and you’ll greatly reduce your stress.