Recently I found myself perplexed over the complicated challenges of parenting a strong-willed teenager while not seeing eye-to-eye with the other half of my team on how to do so. The details are not important, but my frustration, worry, hurt and near-despair was both deep and palpable. I am very much a choose-your-battle kind of person, but this particular battle felt necessary. And I was losing on all fronts.
Then a good friend told me an interesting story:
There was once a boy who found himself locked in disagreement with his mother. At the time he knew he was right (this is one thing I do know: parents are not always right–often, but not always). To this day, the now-grown man knows he was right. In the midst of the battle, and as is sometimes necessary, the boy’s father stepped in. To the boy’s surprise and dismay, the father stood firmly beside the boy’s mother. Looking back now, as an adult, the boy could choose to harbor resentment toward his father, as he knew his father knew who was correct. But instead he recalls a most powerful lesson he learned about parenting that day. That more important than who was one what side, was that both parents stood together.
As I listened to the story I was once again filled with my own sense of rightness. Recalling how in my childhood home we were never allowed to sass or be disrespectful to my mother or we had to answer to my dad (often in a very physical way), I felt certain that my spouse should have my back.
Later, as I was driving home from a meet-up with some close friends, the lightbulb blinked on unmistakeably. An epiphany played smackdown with my pride.
The crux of the lesson wasn’t that the second parent stood by a parent who was in the right. It was that the other parent knowingly stood by his spouse even when he knew she was wrong.
Even as the bold truth of it hit me, I realized that I have a choice in where I choose to stand. And sometimes, even in the heat of a battle that feels necessary, there may be greater lessons to be taught than the most immediate.
Tell me about your struggles as a parent. Particularly for those of you with older children, how do you deal with the challenges inherent in parenting teens? Do you ever find yourself not seeing eye-to-eye with your spouse? How do you resolve those differences in your marriage? What lessons do you find more important than being right?