Which battles do you fight?

[deleted account] ( 35 moms have responded )

I recently had a conversation with a woman who lives across the street from me, a single mother of two boys, ages 15 and 18. We were discussing the fact that her sons leave her home at night during the summer while she is working (nurse, shift work). They walk the streets of the neighborhood, smoking and talking on the cell phone. When I asked her if she was aware of this circumstance, her response was "they are both trying to quit smoking and I won't let them smoke in the home. If they wake in the middle of the night and want a cigarette, I have no problems with them going outside to do it (smoke). I smoke and I know it's hard to quit. It's not a battle I want to fight !"

In my opinion, and even though my children are much younger, I feel as if I should fight every fight. I may not win them all, but at least I am consistent in my beliefs. What do you, my fellow Circle of Moms members, think about fighting every fight?

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Angie - posted on 10/14/2010

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Fighting every fight probably won't work. Think of discipline as a spring in your hand. If you hold the spring tightly it will fly out of your hand and as soon as you open it. If you are a little more gentle in the way your hold it, it will remain in your hand when you open it. You have to let you children learn and grow. Part of learning is making mistakes. As your children get older, you will see that not every battle is worth fighting.
As far as what these boys are doing, don't worry about it. As long as they are not disturbing you let their mom worry about it.

Nikki - posted on 10/17/2010

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I've come to learn that fighting per say is an automatic invitation to rebellion. I 'challenge' my girls to think. Whether it's actions, words spoken, or thoughts. Instead of treating them like incapable beings, I treat them like intelligent little people. That way the fights are far and in-between. Less battle scars on our relationships, you know?

Ann - posted on 10/17/2010

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I tend to choose my battles carefully. Many things bother me, some I can't live with because I feel they can be dangerous or harmful to my kids. Those I fight for. The other ones I choose and pick.

This means( in my case and these are examples only ) that if my daughter decides to come home with a green hair coloring package I am not going to be on her way or forbid her to do it, if she tells me she wants a nose ring I probably will talk to her about it and let her decide after learning a bit more about it, but if she is showing her boobs in a web camera, I will fight.

Of course the definitions of what is completely out of question differ from person to person but often are more related to us than to anything else. Our values - that we hope to have passed to our kids - our expectations, our hopes. What remains in the end give us a clue of what to fight for.

Jennifer - posted on 10/17/2010

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I agree with you however, I have a 16 year old at home and am finding that I am tired of fighting over everything. I am learning to pick and choose.

I would guess this lady realizes that she the battles you are talking about she knows she can't fight because she isn't there to enforce the rules. Second of all, how can she educate her kids of the evils of smoking when she does it herself.

Jennifer - posted on 10/15/2010

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Its to tiring as a parent to fight every fight. Fight the important ones, know your boundaries, and stick to your rules.

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Sherri - posted on 11/11/2010

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I definitely pick my battles. I don't have the energy to fight every single battle. I choose the most important and fight tooth and nail for those.

Sandy - posted on 11/11/2010

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I have a 18 year old son and he has smoked since he was 15, as far as i know. He smoked for a while before i found out and was sneaking it in the house. Weather i wanted him to or not he was gonna do it. I don't smoke myself so i said okay idon't like it but here are the rules, you supply your own cigs and you dont smoke in the house. I still don\t like it but you can only control so much and i feel there are bigger battles to fight.

Joanne - posted on 11/09/2010

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I don't believe it is matter of fighting every fight. In my opinion it is about support and guidance. In the end children will make their choices and they will need to work through and live with consequences whether they are good or bad. As parents we can only equipped them with the skills to become adults. It's their choice to use them or not. Just my opinion

Janice - posted on 11/09/2010

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With 4 kids, it's impossible to fight every fight - I firmly believe you have to choose your battles, but be consistent - don't argue over major issues with 1 kid, but minor issues with another. I know that what seems like a huge issue to one, is minor to another, but consistency is definitely the key! Always be fair. Teenagers are DIFFICULT!!! You have to ride the storm - even when they think you are being the worst person in the world!! Always make them understand that whatever you are doing is being done from a place of love.

Kimberly - posted on 11/07/2010

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I have a teenager with adhd. i am learning that it is easiest on the family if i choose my battles, try not to sweat the small stuff all the time. when i did that it just seemed to distance us further apart.

Lori - posted on 10/28/2010

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Lisa, it sounds like you are asking a general question, and using your neighbor's situation as an example - is that right?? If so, I will respond by saying this: the battles you fight and how you fight them depend greatly on the child in question!!
I have two girls, and they are polar opposites in personality. Despite this, our core family values are the same for each kid - for example, they will NOTengage in self-destructive behavior. They WILL focus their energies on their education, as that is their road map to their future. They WILL respect authority, and will only be permitted to argue with that authority if they do so in a respectful manner. Etc., etc., etc.......it varies for every family.
Child one always calmly and reasonably listened to our position (on almost any subject), and if she did not (or does not) agree, will calmly and rationally renegotiate for a compromise that suits us both. In this way, we have both grown a great deal - parents and child. Even though your boundaries and rules are what they are, as they grow in maturity and responsibility, parties on both sides have to become more flexible and make adjustments according to what rights and privileges are earned through demonstrated good behavior and choices.
Child 2 is a bit more rebellious, and has not yet fully learned the value of compromise - though she's getting there. Most of our battles end in one of two ways: she is not happy (aww, too bad...) or we allow her to 'win', and she learns the hard way to accept responsibility for her choices. Either way, it tends to be more of a learning and growing experience for her - though often is more difficult and heart-wrenching for us.
Teens are very hard - mostly because they are struggling to become the young men and women we set out to try to raise in the first place!!! I am almost 'done' with my 'job' as a mom - one in college, the other going in a year. Now our relationship will change AGAIN - into what, who knows???
I agree with a great many of the women who posted here - some terrific feedback.

Andrea - posted on 10/27/2010

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The 15 year old I would try to stop from smoking,You as a mom should be able to contol it in your home inside or out. The 18yr old is a legal adult. As a neighbor you have done your part to try to help the parent informing her .Its up to the parent to enforce.

Jennifer - posted on 10/26/2010

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I think we have to be consistant with discipline even if we are working shift work. If my teenage son wants to do something it is fine, but he has to let me know where he is and he has to be home by 8pm on school nights unless he is with a responsible adult. There has to be rules or they walk all over us.

DELLARECE - posted on 10/26/2010

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ITS HARD TO FIGHT EVERY FIGHT AND YOU WONT BE ABLE TO FIGHT EVERY FIGHT. A LINE HAS TO BE DRAWN BETWEEN PARENT AND CHILD. CHILDREN DO NEED A CERTAIN AMOUNT OF FREEDOM, BUT IN THE MEANTIME THEY SHOULD BE DISCIPLINE AS WELL.

Rachelle - posted on 10/26/2010

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no you truly need to pick the battles.the kids will resent you if you make everything a battle.. i think the battles you need to stank firm on are what you will tolerate your boundires. your moral beliefs. dont back down on those. life is to short to be fighting all the time. my husband and i are goin through the same things with our 16 and 13 year old. best of luck to you..

Angela - posted on 10/23/2010

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not to be rude, but it sounds more like you want to be in control rather than be consistent. as your children reach their teens you will realize you cannot control them and trying to do so will only cause resentment, push them away and in the end they will be sneaking around rather than confiding in you when they have a problem and/or actually listening to your viewpoint and beliefs. of course, children need rules and bounderies, but they have to be allowed to make their own decisions and deal with their mistakes. i have seen so many children who were controlled in every way by their parents turn 18 and go absolutely wild, often getting in trouble with the law and, unfortunately, sometimes being terribly injured or even killed. i ask myself this question when i have the urge to fight the fight............is this going to be important to me tomorrow? next week? if the answer is no, i don't fight that battle.

[deleted account]

LOL. I apologize for posting this question. I was just curious as to how other people thought in this situation. Please remember, it's not me, but my neighbor. I don't know what I would do if my children started smoking, but I think smoke would pour out of my ears.

Helen - posted on 10/22/2010

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I am a mam with 3 boys, 17~15~10yrs, it's really hard to accept that they are growing up and becoming there own person, but i strongly belive in talking to them about there feelings and stuff at school, alwasy being as open and as honest as i can, if teenagers are listen to by there parents and not just dictated to they will grow a perfect bond of respect, and sometimes when they loose there way we as parents should gently support them back to the right way, addmittedly its not easy, but we do (without thinking sometimes) still treat them as 5yrs old's, and they will want to rebel all the way, but as for being ok with them wandering the streets in the middle of the night is not normal behaviour, we as adults wouldn;t do that, as for the smoking, they can do that in there garden, then go back to bed x x

Letitia - posted on 10/21/2010

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Great comments from everyone. I also pick my battles, and I try to encourage independent thought like Nikki suggested. Sometimes you have to draw a line in the sand and be the parent though, like someone else said. What's ok for me is hair color and punk clothes. Not ok (at this point) is drugs, smoking, sex and drinking. Your line in the sand can adjust, though. For instance if your child starts smoking, you can insist on rules that make it inconvenient to smoke (they must spend their own money on cigs, smoke outside and away from the house, not at Grandma's, etc.). There's not much you can do about sex except hope your "sex talks" have sunk in, and voice your disapproval. This is a tough job, these teens.

Amanda - posted on 10/21/2010

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I am a single mom and I have a 15 and 20 year old and I fought all the fights and I won most of them. So your friend is wrong. My children have been raised to respect me and I am not their friend. I am their mother!! Don't stop fighting all the fights..but the room can be a little messy with girls and boys seem to think socks belong on the floor..those are my lost battles!!

Louveda - posted on 10/20/2010

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It seems like a lot of people equate setting boundaries with telling someone what to do. IMO, the neighbor mom is being lazy. She doesn't want to be a hypocrite by telling her kids not to smoke when she smokes herself. I'm not saying she shouldn't pick her battles. Obviously, telling a kid (especially a 15 or 18 yr old) not to do something isn't going to work if they are determined to do it. But I'm not going to condone behavior that I deem unsafe. I have a 21 yr old son & a 13 yr old daughter. I do my best every single day to ensure my expectations of them are clear & consistent. There is a huge difference between picking the right battles & not picking any battles. I don't know this mother well enough to say that she isn't picking any battles. I hope to god she is. I'm extremely disappointed that teenage smoking is not a priority battle for a mother who also happens to be a health care professional.

Maureen - posted on 10/20/2010

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This fight is not yours to fight! I can relate to your situation, except mine is with a close friend who is free to let her children do as they choose. Unfortunately, anything you say or do, will not work or change a thing in this situation. She sounds defensive about the situation and probably is embarrrassed with the fact that she has not or cannot control her children. Single parents working nights is NEVER a good idea! Children need discipline and guidance to lead them down the right path in life. It sounds as though they do not have a good leader, but you cannot change that or fight that, because nothing will change. Good luck, I know it can be difficult to watch.

Sherri - posted on 10/19/2010

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If I fought every battle with my two teenage girls, I would be too exhausted to pee!! Choose carefully - if they are in a situation where possible harm could come to them - battle. But if it's really not something worth going to "war" over, share your opinion and know you raised them right

Jill - posted on 10/19/2010

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Your children are always worth fighting for, but I find you do have to pick your "battles". For instance, my 14 yr old daughter gets caught in drama daily *eye roll*. It gets tiresome. We talk diligently about how to stay out of the drama & the gossip but many other girls drag her into it on a regular basis. Ignoring it doesn't always make it go away. When she comes home all atither over the drama & gossip, I don't argue w/ her or chide her about it. I listen and offer as much as I can as calmly as possible (although I'd sometimes like to chase some kids down & ring their necks!!) I don't care for the drama, but I welcome the fact that my daughter still comes to me with the information. I've learned a LOT about some kids I once trusted & others who aren't what they seemed!! Sometimes the battles are won by just listening & understanding rather than causing a scuffle!!!
As for the neighbor ... in a case like that, if she wanted to let the kids smoke, she should request they stay on the porch or in the yard rather than running the roads at night!! JMHO

Tina - posted on 10/17/2010

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I have a son who is 18yrs and he is very rebelious, he stared smoking back in gr.11 when he was 16 and we didn't find out until we drove by his school and saw him smoking. We were in shock , we never thought one of kids would smoke. so we waited til he got home and we talked to him about smoking and how we felt and then we asked how he felt and he said he enjoyed it and was not going to quit. so we had asked him not to do it at our home and he has respected it enpugh that he goes for a walk and does it. We as parents cannot choose to pick any battes that come our way but we can always choose how we deal with them.good luck

Cyndy - posted on 10/17/2010

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If you end up fighting ebery battle your home becomes a wa zone. I think that while your children are younger if you instill may of you values to them later there are less battles, especially if you stand firm on those beleifs later. Kids also want to fight so when you take the fight out and walk away sometimes that is the message that is the loudest, "These are my rules."

Dianne - posted on 10/16/2010

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It's impossible to fight every fight & that doesn't help a relationship with your children, either. Pick your battles...the things that are important in the long run, not just those that are things you, as a parent, don't like. This is more complex than just "pick your battles" however. Here's a single mom working nights, which is hard to do when the rest of the world revolves around daytime hours. She has 2 rebellious kids who are probably both bigger & stronger than she is. As a single parent, you reach a point when you are exhausted, there's no other adult in the household to support you & you find it hard to push the line all the time. Kids who are determined to be anti-everything that is good for them, and healthy, and of good character will find a way to not follow the rules regardless of what she says...especially when she's not around. She needs a break, or a support or both. And at this point, concentrating on the younger son is more realistic than the older one.

You've said what you need to. Support her however you can so she can feel rested & up to the challenge of laying down rules that can be consistently followed. It's TOUGH being a parent of a rebellious son!!!

Maria - posted on 10/15/2010

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As much as I agree with you there, if it's worth fighting for, I firmly believe that there's a chance at it. Unfortunately, not everyone believes the same way. I also believe that individually, we have to pick our own battles. If this woman is your friend, then I understand your concern. Even if she's not close to you, I still understand where you're coming from. Cancer abounds and here a mother in a healthcare industry should know better. Apparently, she's not strong enough to keep a firm stand, otherwise she would've thought about her sons to keep a good fight. I smoked before my pregnancy, quit, fell off the wagon 15 years later and quit turkey 3 years ago. It's a tough battle, but it's worth keeping a fight. Where my family and my health is concerned, it's a battle I intend to keep.

[deleted account]

Thanks Heather, I agree it is her choice on how to deal with that particular situation. My views are that if I become aware of MY children doing what I believe to be wrong, then I am going to correct/discipline/punish (whatever) accordingly. My children will have no unclear messages sent to them.

Not everyone feels this way, hence this post.

Heather - posted on 10/15/2010

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Wow! My motto has always been, "Pick your battles, but win the war!" You have to know when to give in, but it definitely shouldn't be in a situation that is harming to the child. She really can't tell her 18 year old not too smoke. Well, actually if he lived in my house still, I certainly would. However, the 15 year old being allowed to smoke is absolutely ridiculous. In this situation, I would most definitely fight the fight, so to speak. As a neighbor, though, I feel that you have done your job. You made her aware of the situation. It is her job now as the mother to take care of it.

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