I love this post about focusing on what is important to you and your kids when choosing your battles by my writing friend Jennifer DiCamillo. Jennifer is the author of 37 books and has won well over 200 writing awards. She is a mother of five and grandmother to 8. She lives and writes in a haunted hollow in the Missouri Ozarks. Her pets include a 4 lb Yorkie named Pixie and a blue eyed paint stallion named W.C..
Picking Your Parenting Battles by Jennifer DiCamillo
I am a mother of five. I grew up in the seventies when Daisy Duke shorts were in. However, for my four daughters, I preferred to keep their butt cheeks covered. That was my first rule. But my girls are really long legged, so I had to draw another line. Shorts must be at least three inches long from the center seam. At least, that insured covering of the buttocks and other private areas. But then I decided fingertip length was better. You see, as a parent, you have to be flexible. If something doesn’t work, try again, make a new rule.
Then came the prom dress dilemma. I’m frustrated by the strapless and spaghetti strapped formals offered, as if sleeves were not used on modern clothing at all. I fought this battle, made a dress from scratch that was perfectly modest; and when prom pictures came back, my daughter was the only one who didn’t have a dress to match EVERY OTHER GIRL IN HER CLASS. My daughter forgave me, but I haven’t forgiven myself. I stood strong on the basis of modesty, and the fear of her losing her virginity on prom night. When in reality, both issues were character issues, not reliant on the straps or lack of sleeves on a dress. So, I actually lost the battle that I won at the time. I’ve cried repeatedly over what I think was a big mistake.
In a similar issue, I inspected my kids before church, sent them out to the car, climbed in, and half way to the church one day, I looked in my rearview mirror to see one of my daughters, after inspection, had added a poofy ponytail on the center top of her head, and let her sister draw (with an ink pen) a rather stylish headband across her forehead. Complete with an impressive starburst in the center. I was livid. I ranted about respecting God and self and embarrassing your family on top of all else.
It so happened that my daughter had to speak in front of the congregation that day…on judging other people. Or rather, not judging. I learned that she’d been a victim of a very churchy woman who didn’t like the length of her dresses, or how she dressed, period. After she spoke, eloquently on the subject I must add, many women approached me, said they loved the example my daughters all set. I complained about the headband and ponytail, to hear woman after woman say, “If that’s the worst rebellion you have to contend with, thank God.”
So, I’m here to tell you, don’t let a hairdo, or even a funky headband be your undoing. Don’t let a dress become a mortal war between you and your daughter. Relationships are fragile and need nurtured. Pick your battles, give in a little, and maybe you’ll win the war and still be friends with your daughter(s) when it’s all said and done.