Some of the best parenting advice I ever received was from a friend who told me “You don’t have to pick every battle, but you have to win the ones you pick.” A couple of days ago, the battle was over my daughter Sara taking a nap before attending a friend’s birthday party. Having recently been sick and without enough sleep, I knew that if she didn’t have a little bit of down time prior to the party, she would probably have a melt down at the party. Sara refused. Not only did she insist upon not taking a nap or resting, she further orchestrated her refusal by protesting on the intercom. I repeatedly escorted her back to bed. Still, she would not rest. I had told her that she would not be able to go to the party without at least resting. When it came time to go I made the hard choice and told Sara she would not be attending her friend’s birthday party. I won the battle and felt absolutely sick about it. But, I also knew it was the right thing to do.
In assessing our core values we have to be prepared to take a loss in defending them. (Chapter one, page 25). This is perhaps one of the strongest determining factors in figuring out what matters most to us. What mattered most to me this weekend was getting my daughter to understand not only the importance of resting her body and taking care of herself, but that one of the core principals in our home is one of mutal respect for family members. The rules had been set and it was Sara’s job to respect and follow them.
The morning following the missed birthday party, Sara woke up early so she could brush her hair and teeth, get dressed and even tidy up her room. She was making an effort to be on her best behavior and I have no doubt it was done as a result of my keeping her home this weekend. Now, I don’t expect this unusal dose of extra good behavior to happen on a daily basis, but I do believe that a powerful seed has been planted in her mind. It’s the seed of consistency. She knows now and will continue to know that I will be consistent in my parenting. And in the long run, she knows I will be consistent in my love for her. Because while the loss of the birthday party was a bitter pill to take, my core value of teaching love and respect to my daughter was worth the loss of temporary joy; it will be replaced with the unshakable knowledge of an everlasting love.