Thursday, February 19, 2009

More On Choosing Battles

(Originally posted at Rational Jenn)

Thanks to everyone who took the time to leave comments on my The Art of War for Parents post. It generated some good discussion, and that's always interesting and beneficial to me.

My friend Kelly asked a couple of good questions that helped me clarify a distinction between using force to help a child do something (like stop before running into traffic) and Mom refusing to do something (like go upstairs to retrieve socks). After thinking about this issue for a while, I came up an analogy (from the comments):

Kelly--regarding the earlier comments, here's an analogy I came up with today. Let me know what you think.

Sometimes as a Mom I have to be like the Unstoppable Force--the one who must force the kid to do something against his will. (With rational parameters around when to do this, of course.)

Other times, when I'm setting a limit on something I will or will not do, I'm more like the Immovable Object. I'm not forcing the kid, but rather, choosing not to budge about something.

Both kinds of scenarios might involve in Battles, and I think both require rational parameters and reevaluation of whether the Battle is worth fighting.

The not going upstairs is me as the IO; the forcing into a carseat is the UF.

Two sides of the same coin? Maybe? Think I'm getting closer anyway, and I definitely mixed up the examples I used.

What do you think?

Also, as I was contemplating this distinction, I realize that I'm a better parent in the Mom-as-Unstoppable-Force situations than I am when I'm Mom-as-the-Immovable-Object. When I'm drawing a line in the sand, sometimes I get caught up in Not Budging and I forget to reevaluate whether there's a good reason for doing so. Some kind of Stonewall Mommy thing. (That's merely an interesting insight into my own personal self; YMMV, of course!)

Then Kelly said the following about the UF/IO distinction, which I thought was very insightful:

I think one super important thing for parents to contemplate about these two states is the consequence of doing it at inappropriate times or too often. Using force too often or unfairly leads to children who aren't independent and who feel resentment. Refusing to do things to help too much or with cruel intentions leads to children who don't feel loved and cared for. Both things are absolutely necessary, but should be used incredibly sparingly.

Wasn't that well put? And I completely agree. Thoughts? And by the way, in case it wasn't clear, disagreements are welcome in the comments! Hearing other points of view is always helpful to me.

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