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Dying on hills

By Heather Oman


My MIL and I were talking about parenting once. She mentioned, as she has before, how grateful she is that her grandchildren have such good mothers. She said it’s not a given, and that she is impressed with how we manage our charges, who range in ages and difficulty.

That said, I’m not her daughter, I didn’t grow up in her home, which means that her daughters and I sometimes parent differently. Not anything drastic, but there are battles that my SILs pick that I don’t. I mentioned that to my MIL, that there are some hills I’m just not willing to die on.

Then she asked me a question that I’m still thinking about, years later.

“What hills ARE you willing to die on?”

I had to sit and think about it. What are the things that are most important to me? What are the things I’m willing to fight with my kids about?

“Going to church”, I said. That was all I could come up with, mostly because at the time, it was the biggest battle I was having with my kids–they don’t want to go, they don’t want to bathe, they don’t want to put on church clothes, they don’t want to sit still in Sacrament meeting. And yet I push it, we battle, sometimes with tears on our way to the chapel (which, you know, makes for a SUPER spiritual Sabbath).

Now, we battle homework and piano practicing and bedtime and washing your hands after you pee and not spoiling your appetite with 2 dozen Oreos before dinner. But other than the normal routine nagging of parenting, I don’t know that I pick a lot of battles. My other MIL (yes, I have two–that’s another post entirely) has a favorite saying about parenting: Be careful which battles you pick with your children, because if you pick a battle, you have to win.

My kids are still young. Ages 9 and 3, so we’re not battling cell phones, dating, modesty, or serious academic issues. We’re not battling drugs, pornography, friends with bad influence, drinking.

Not yet, anyway. But I’m fully aware that someday in the future, probably much sooner than I’m comfortable with, these battles will land on my front door. How do I know which ones to pick?

I sat in an Institute class once where we were discussing the virtues of modesty. The predictable points were made, how you should establish modest dressing habits early, how girls need to know how boys are affected by the way they dress, and how they need to shun the styles of today, etc, etc, etc.

I appreciated it when a mother of a teenage girl spoke up and said, “You know what? Our girls are really trying hard. It’s not easy to stay modest with today’s fashion. And my daughter came to me and asked if she could wear skinny jeans. I told her no, that they were too tight. And she started to cry. She said she was just trying to fit in, that she didn’t wear the immodest tank tops and the halter tops and the low jeans and whatever else girls wear today, that all she was asking was for cute jeans that still covered her backside so she could look like a 16 year old instead of a 40 year old mom. And you know what? I let her wear those jeans. It’s not like she was asking to wear those new JEGGINGS or anything!”

I silently applauded this mother for recognizing her daughter’s need, and for picking her battles: slutty top that shows cleavage, nay. Skinny jeans that everybody else is wearing that covers her butt, yay.

And I did neglect to reveal the fact that I have a pair of jeggings in my own closet, and that I think they make my legs look smokin’, thank you very much.

But I’m sure that other mothers in the room disagreed with her, that skinny jeans shouldn’t be a part of a modest girl’s wardrobe. These are mothers that are willing to die on that hill.

What hills are you willing to die on? How do you decide which battles to pick and which ones to let go? Do you find you are more willing to pick battles with certain members of your family, and have you picked battles with older children that you’ve decided aren’t worth it with the others?

I heard Julie Beck say once that we as mothers are “Lionesses at the Gate.” Tell me which battles you fight to protect the fortress of your home.

About Heather Oman

(Prose Board) lives in the south with her husband, her two kids, and her wiggly black lab. She is a licensed speech language pathologist, but spends most of her days trying to teach her own kids how to say please and thank you. She is a member of the Segullah Editorial Board, and is the founding member of the blog Mormon Mommy Wars.

45 thoughts on “Dying on hills”

  1. This is definitely a thinking post. Thankfully, we haven't had any huge hills to die on. I do have a college student still living at home who doesn't attend church. And I finally realized it wasn't a battle I was going to win. So, I count my blessings that he still lives the gospel even if he just isn't wanting to spend his Sundays doing it publicly.

    I'd say modesty has always been one of my line-in-the-sand things, but there's still a little flexibility there–like skinny jeans that aren't too skinny.

    I'll have to ponder on this subject a bit more.

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  2. Along with Julie Beck's quote, a talk at a stake women's conference by a former, exceptional stake president of mine, included a quote by Margaret Thatcher. Without going into historical details, Mrs. Thatcher said it in regards to the Battle of the Faulklands. The quote is "Not on my watch". I know I will have to make an accounting to Heavenly Father about what I either allowed or was too casual about "on my watch" in my family and my home.

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  3. This doesn't pertain to your question, but I'm stuck on skinny jeans = immodest clothing. I had no idea they were considered so by some. But then I don't have a teenage daughter and my short, squatty legs would look like balloons in them, so it's a fashion choice I avoid completely. πŸ™‚

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  4. This is a hard one, isn't it?
    Our kids are all adults now and we were having a conversation recently about this very topic. I asked them why they never argued about going to Church (NEVER)and they all agreed that they knew it was just "what we did" in our family. So, I guess you'd say that was the main hill we were willing to "die on". It just wasn't up for discussion and they knew it.

    We had great success with teaching our kids the principles behind the few hard and fast rules we had and treating them with the same respect we expected them to show us. "Because I said so" just doesn't cut it.

    Many, many other issues WERE up for discussion and we all learned great lessons about compromise, respect, and setting priorities: neatness of their rooms, hairstyles, and curfews come to mind. With lots of give and take on these less important (to us anyway) issues, we never had need of many rules.

    We were far from perfect, but somehow we did ok I guess- They're adults who we're proud to have as friends now.

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  5. I don't have the privilege of picking the same kinds of hills you're talking about, but if I did I've always thought that one battle I would *not* fight would be over hair, girls or boys.

    It doesn't matter to me what freakish color(s) it is, or how ugly I think a cut is, or how long or short or frizzy or straight or teased it might be. Hair will grow out again, leaving nary a sign of the frightfulness it might be for a time. Hair won't poison a child, or leave scars or holes, or make him too tired to do his homework, or cause her to engage in illegal acts.

    How much better to allow a child to follow fashion, shock parents, mimic friends, rebel, express individuality, or whatever it is, through something transitory and visible like hair, than to drive it underground into dangerous and hidden experiments! (Besides, you can always save the photographic evidence for blackmail when fashions have changed …)

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  6. Mine are still relatively young, so I don't know if there are any hills I'd be willing to die on. But while they're in my home I feel like they need to respect each other and our household rules…and hopefully they will retain a desire for that as they mature and leave the nest in the next seven years.

    I think the more important thing is to preserve a close relationship. To show unconditional love always, and do whatever we can to let them know we love them by how we treat them. To follow the pattern of the Savior who said "I came not to judge the world but to save the world." Figuring out how to faithfully love those in our stewardship without violating their agency is the model I'm trying to follow. That seems to work better than any other method I've observed.

    They may make choices I wouldn't wish for them, but as long as they know what the standards are and feel loved, they will hopefully find their way home at the end of the day.

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  7. I knew a wonderful mother of twelve. She said something to the effect that she didn't fight her children on things unless the thing was: dangerous, unlawful, or immoral. There may have been a couple of other things in there, but I just do not understand or admire controlling parents. It backfires.

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  8. The problem for me is when my husband and I choose different hills to die on.

    And yes, there are definitely different hills with different children.

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  9. My hill has always been that no one physically hurt or bully each other, our home has to be a safe refuge for everyone in it. The kids had to talk me into allowing a little more room for playful teasing about five years ago.

    I'm puzzled that anyone considers skinny jeans immodest. Unflattering, or suggesting skater culture, but not immodest.

    kim sounds like she found the golden mean. It must be so satisfying to be past this stage and able to look on this past and call it good.

    I've ended up negotiating with my teenagers on things that I didn't think would be up for discussion, and I've learned not to negotiate but set relevant consequences for things like skipped homework.

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  10. I don't know what my hills are yet. I wonder how many of them you can avoid through sheer habit. Like if I were organized enough to always have my kids clean more than they do now, would they just not rebel so much even at the rebellious stage, because that's how our family runs, and that's just how it is? How much rebellion can you fend off through consistency?

    Thinking about this makes me wish I were more consistent with some things.

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  11. Good thinking post, Heather.
    I loved reading all the comments. I think I most related to what Blue said. It's all about relationships and love. It's that old saying, "They won't care how much you know until they know how much you care."

    I also think the main answer is testimony. It's all those heart rendering lessons they learn from us as they are growing. If they have a testimony and really understand how much we love them and want them to be happy, I don't think there will be many battles to fight, or even hills we need to die on.

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  12. Skinny jeans immodest? The thought never would have occurred to me. Surely leggings are worse than jeggings, even, for their thin material hides little. But even those I don't mind. Wow. But anyway, I have often had this discussion about which battles to fight with my sister as it concerns music lessons. I understand they mean years of nagging, but the end result is so great . . .

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  13. This is an interesting question, and I liked the previous comments, particularly Blue's and Grandma Honey's, who seem to be saying that more love means fewer battles.

    I do recognize that "choosing your battles" is a shorthand for "deciding which issues matter most to you" but I still think the phrase can carry and underlying assumption that the issues we choose can be won with a fight. I'm coming more and more to believe that as soon as your metaphor is battle, or especially once you actually take an adversarial role, you've lost. Although I'm often quite authoritarian as a parent, I'm coming more and more to believe in and try to apply ideals such as that our only authority comes in gentleness, meekness, and love unfeigned, and that we should teach correct principles and let (children or adults) govern themselves, and that we should set a good example and having high expectations but never contend or force.

    All that said, as far as which principles I would give highest priority, I do agree with you and others here that it's more effective to put the most energy into teaching a few essential principles and try to be more relaxed about more superficial and trivial things. There's a TED talk that says that people are most motivated to perform well when their work allows for "autonomy, mastery, and purpose," and I think that being more relaxed about more trivial things (like hair or jean styles) can make us seem less hypocritical or controlling, and encourage our kids to test their agency in arenas where the consequences are light.

    I have sometimes "fought the battles" of things like matching clothes on Sundays with my young kids–not out of religious conviction, but because I love seeing my kids looking nice–but I hope that even on that front I'm getting better at negotiating, persuading, and even just relenting rather than duking it out. It's also probably ture that my kids have just worn me down and I have less energy to fight smaller battles, but that's not always a bad thing–as long as I don't neglect to intervene (again, with love and persuasion) in things that really do have consequences for their well-being.

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  14. You know, Ardis, the hair story is a good one. Hair is transitory. It is a small thing in the world of a child for whom most other things are mandatory: school, piano lessons, homework, chores, church. I finally gave up on many of those others, too, with the one who needed the hair freedom. Ultimately I decided on "keeping him in the family" over everything else. We succeeded in that, and looking back at the effort it took over those hard, hard teen years, it has been totally worth it. He's a good man now, and by his choice, is still a part of our family.

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  15. 2nd para above should say "carry *an* underlying assumption." Also it should say "have" high expectations (not "having). And the last paragraph has "ture" for "true." (It would be so nice to be able to edit my own comments.)

    Also, Michelle, I've never thought skinny jeans per se were inherently immodest, but I do think that almost any cut of clothing can be immodest if it fits too closely, etc., and I do see a lot of LDS young women who seem oblivious as to how revealing their clothing can be even when it technically covers them. (But again, this isn't the kind of thing you can teach without love and trust, and not before more important principles, such as our Heavenly Father's love for us, are understood. But when those things are in place, more thoughtful modesty *is* a "battle I'd fight"–by which I really just mean issue I care about and want to teach my daughters or others in my stewardship.

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  16. One of our hills is what we call running the program — scriptures, prayer, FHE. That's not to say we are perfect at these things, but we try to be consistent.

    I also believe in family dinner time whenever possible.

    Emily, I worry about similar things — will things that I haven't mastered yet become battles because they aren't in the fabric of our life?

    And Zina, I loved your response re: skinny jeans. For us, there's another layer that comes into discussions about things like that, and that is how much we want the culture around us defining our choices. There is no right answer there, of course, but to me it shows that there can be layers that enter into a decision, and a lot of "dancing with them" that depends on the dynamics of our relationship with our children and our family.

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  17. I attended a temple sealing where the sealer counseled the couple to say yes as often as they could. I think that when parents allow their children a healthy amount of freedom those "nos" have a certain weight.

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  18. Great post. I agree that modesty is a hill to consider dying on. Nevertheless it is always important to have the Spirit with you to navigate specific situations with specific children. I heard a relative tell a story about how her daughter really wanted a mini-skirt and went out and bought one with her own money. Her mother warned her why it wasn't a great idea. She didn't heed her warning, but the mother let her daughter wear it to school anyway. Well at school her daughter kept getting her behind pinched and only then did she realize that her mother was right.

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  19. Skinny jeans are just jeans that are more pegged, as opposed to flare, straight, or bootcut. Any of these jeans can be too tight, and thus immodest.

    One of the battles we struggle with is keeping Monday night free for FHE. Sometimes we do our lesson on Sunday, but our leaders have asked us to keep MONDAY NIGHT free from other activities where possible. We do live in Utah, so this is easier to do sometimes than if we lived elsewhere.

    We once refused to let our oldest daughter go to a school dance concert practice. Because she had missed another practice, she couldn't participate in the concert. While we try to keep Monday nights free as a general rule, I actually regret that decision now. I feel that FHE on Monday nights is made FOR the children, the children are not made FOR FHE. I *think* that our leaders might agree we should use our best judgement, and consider our children.

    We now let our boys play in those occasional baseball games on Monday nights, but if there is a practice that runs past 7, we pick them up early. We also make sure we let our coaches know where we stand.

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  20. I love the idea of having a habit of saying yes as much as possible so the "no"s mean more. I also like the idea of counseling with my children so they understand why we said no, instead of just a blanket "because I said so" (although I confess to having used that phrase). I guess I just worry about striking the right balance between rules and freedom. I do like the hair example though. Does that mean I have to let my 9 year old look like a shaggy dog because he hates haircuts? Sigh…

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  21. I've really been thinking about this very topic a lot. It seems like "choosing your battles" is being used more and more as a cop-out. I had a discussion with my sister-in-law about her daughter who hates to dress modestly. My niece is always wearing skimpy tank tops, short shorts and bikinis. Even at the family reunion which made my daughters ask me all sorts of questions about why their cousin dresses like that. My SIL, this girl's mother, just shrugs and says, "it's not a battle I'm willing to fight. At least she's going to church and not drinking or anything."

    I feel like modesty is a super big deal. I don't want my daughter wearing a bathing suit that could be pulled off by her boyfriend in less than five seconds. I'm really disappointed that my SIL just shrugs her shoulders and says she is "picking another battle". Whatever. I think she really doesn't want yet another reason to fight with her daughter.

    (I happen to not think skinny jeans are immodest. I used to wear leggings back in the day and nobody thought there was anything wrong with those. Nor do I think a prom dress has to have cap sleeves to be modest. But I do think tummies and boobs should be covered.)

    Other battles I am willing to pick:

    Church attendance–I hate going to church too sometimes. Big deal. Get over it.

    Chores–more important than school or sports. learning to do chores when you don't want to is going to take you further than tap dancing or soccer.

    Sassiness–you'd better speak respectfully to me or you're in trouble. End of discussion. Eye rolling is tolerated, however.

    Battles I'm not willing to fight:

    Good grades–Who cares? I got bad grades and I'm pretty happy with myself and how things have turned out for me. I encourage my kids to get good grades, but if they don't its not the end of the world.

    Clean bedrooms–You want to live in a digusting hole? Be my guest. Enjoy the smelly cup of sour milk in your dresser while you're at it. (This is more for my teens. I do make the younger ones clean their rooms so they at least know how.)

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  22. I like the idea of saying "yes" as often as you can, but not if the reason is so you can be "cool" parents. Although my wife and I haven't been able to have kids of our own, we are often the "emergency" parents when family or friends need help with someone to take their kids for a while. Right now we are watching two boys for a single mom, who have both been expelled, thinking that staying home is more fun than being at school. I wanted to take the Wii controllers with me to work, since I think being expelled shouldn't be rewarded with play time, but my wife is easier on them than that. However, the 3rd grader freaked out when she banned him from the computer, and she only lets them have one hour a day on the Wii. Othewise, they are working in the yard or helping around the house. School, especially when they are still in elementary school, is a "hill" for me, and if it were only me, I'd have them reading and writing book reports on top of what the school-assigned tutor has them doing.

    I agree with the hair thing. A niece we had stay with us learned the hard way that dyeing her hair as often as she did had consequences. To go from one color to another the way she did, she had to have her hair bleached to get the old color out. After her last dye job, her hair was so stressed from the overdose on chemicals that it fell out iin clumps. At least she sticks with colors that are found in nature now.

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  23. Jennie, I think you're absolutely right that refusing to fight the battle can be a cop-out. We're not here to be our kids' friends, after all, and parenting is supposed to be hard.

    Still, it's interesting to see where parents will put their energy, and what is important to them. Obviously modesty isn't all that important to your SIL, othewise she'd fight it harder.

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  24. With a teenage boy I would have to say pornography is one of those hills. Caught him on the computer on inappropriate site and had to take some strong actions. But that is a hill I am willing to fight for.

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  25. jenni, you're lucky you live in utah! my kids already miss out on so many activities because they're scheduled on sundays, we'd have to bow out of all activities if we kept monday similarly sacred. they've had piano, girl scouts, school events, and all sports scheduled on monday nights. sadly, all but piano has also been scheduled for sundays and that's our hill. they miss out on so many neat experiences because everyone around us treats sunday differently, i feel it would be unfair to lump monday in. my husband works monday nights anyway, and has a rotating schedule, so we just aim to have fhe at SOME point during the week.

    our hills. hrm. sundays are sacred. good school habits are mandatory. respect and family participation is non-negotiable. can't think of much else. we haven't hit high school, yet, so stand by! we have five kids within seven years, so i think we're more laid-back out of necessity. i used to be pretty uptight about EVERYthing, but can't be as much now. we let a lot of things go and i agree that it makes the "NO!"s more poignant. food might be another hill… while we certainly allow for treats, they are that. we don't bring junk into the house and the kids are expected to eat well. i really want them to have healthy eating habits to carry them through life.

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  26. I'm a retired battle commander with 5 grown kids who made it out alive. Basically we asked ourselves "Will this behaviour, standard, activity, etc. matter in 5 years?" Depending on the answer things were either let go or battled through.

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  27. I am sure I will die on the Hill of Appropriate Media. It might be tomorrow, but I will die trying to protect my kids from outside junk and bad media habits.

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  28. You know, in spite of what I said earlier, it's also true that there are lots of great battle metaphors in the scriptures. We do need to be warrior parents, it's just that our children are not the enemy, sin is the enemy, and sincere righteousness is our only effective weapon.

    I would even instinctively answer that I would choose every battle, in the sense that I want my kids to have every opportunity and every blessing, including strengths and skills I haven't mastered myself. (One of my most frequent prayers as a parent is for Heavenly Father to make up for my deficiencies with my kids. But I do also try to be continually working on overcoming one failing or another, line upon line.) But since we can't do it all of course there has to be an order of priority, and our kids are very likely to rebel if they see that our priorities are of the whited-sepulcher variety; if we're obsessing only about visible devotion.

    And, like I said before, we lose if we think the only possible intervention is contention. Whenever I do remember to teach correct principles, I'm amazed (tho' I shouldn't be) at how effective it is. Currently one of my battles is teaching my kids to work, and it's HARD–none of us really loves to work. But I'm trying to be consistent, to be cheerful even when my kids aren't, and to keep teaching WHY we're doing it. Almost every day my 7-year-old will ask, "Mom, WHY do we have to work?" and by now instead of just telling her, I can ask, "You tell me–why do we have to work?" She sighs a little and says, "Because if we didn't, we wouldn't have any clean clothes to wear or any dishes to eat off of, and we would always step on toys and hurt our feet." I do have to always add, "AND knowing how to do work makes us happier, stronger people," because she can't seem to remember that part. But I've also noticed that after she has explained back to me why we work, she often starts doing her chores with a little less whining.

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  29. "Obviously modesty isn’t all that important to your SIL, othewise she’d fight it harder."

    This idea that we can and should just fight harder on things that really matter to us is enticing, but in the end, I think, deceiving.

    My dd is 15, and honestly, there is absolutely nothing I can force her to do or not do. Sure, I can remove privileges and impose penalties, but all that is just dust in the wind, possibly delaying an unwanted choice. The only thing I have on my side is the respect and love she has for us as parents who love her.

    I'm not advocating hands-off parenting. Just that it's vital to realize at some point that it is impossible to control another human being. I know that sounds ridiculous, we all know that, but being a parent makes this seem quite fuzzy at times.

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  30. Tani, thanks for bringing that up. It's true that it is impossible to control another person (particularly when they grow past the age where we can throw them in bed and lock the door). At some point, I think our children need to obey us because they respect us, not because we can control them. And that's what the scriptures tell us, right? No unrighteous dominion, and all that.

    That said, picking the right kind of battles at least gives them a good idea about what is important to us, and a framework for what should be important to them. At least I hope it does :).

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  31. Thanks so much for this post and the discussion that has followed.

    I am a firm believer in the importance of limiting media use. My oldest is 13 so I realize that I will have to gradually let go of my control of this BUT in the meantime I fight hard to keep track of how much TV/computer/ipod gaming is happening around this place. I realize that the exact limit will vary in each family, but I believe that screen time is ripping apart normal social cues and dances. My boys need to be around each other talking, playing, and yes fighting. They need to be hanging out in my kitchen telling me things while I cook. I want them riding their bikes. I have four boys, and I fight hard for them to have enough time that is absolutely screen-less.

    I believe it matters. There's a fascinating book called Boys Adrift that goes into many of the reasons why boys are on average underperforming, and one of the big problems is too much screen time. Just last night I was at my son's NJHS induction ceremony and counted the number of boys versus girls there. The boys were less than 25% of those in attendance. 25%! Clearly it's not the biggest deal whether or not someone is in the NJHS, but it's just a reminder that there are a ton of boys/men who have lost motivation to work hard, and I have seen too many lazy, entitled young men lately to not say something about it here. So, yes, one of my hills…controlling media.

    Thanks for everyone's input.

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  32. Heather, yeah, just the act of picking a battle tells our kids what matters to us, and that's likely to be a good thing.

    Your sentence about the SIL unwilling to fight about modesty led me to think about how I so readily assume I know what's important to a mother (or father) by looking at their kids. Especially once the teenage years arrive, that's laughable, at least to a certain degree.

    It is really interesting to read all the comments and see the things people find important. Great post, Heather.

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  33. It's interesting about the hair. I chose to not die on that particular hill because hair grows back. My son had beautiful,just past his shoulder, hair. I did ask him to keep it clean. He did a lot of theater and he liked it long. When it came to his mission prep he cut it off. He is now halfway through his mission. My two teenage girls constantly change hair color, and from purple to green and everything else. It grows back. Grades didn't matter either. I like the joke "what do you call the guy that graduated last of his medical school class?, Doctor" My battles were/are seminary. If they attended all week and want an occasional sunday off, they will get it. Thats probably the most important for us. I have four kids and they all have been pretty good when it comes to standards and such. When they were younger I thought some issues would be a bigger deal, and I find that I think "what will matter tomorrow?" And take it from there

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  34. This might seem unrelated, but somehow in my brain this is where this conversation has led me.

    I think when we decide not to pick battles (which, I agree is a deceiving phrase) or we try to back off as parents we create doors for bad things to enter our homes and our spirits. Its the whole "not allowed to wear red, but one red button won't hurt" theory. I agree with one commenter that I fight EVERY battle that matters, but the fight begins before the battle. We train for battle first. I start by talking about and hopefully teaching sincerely the gospel principles I want my children to follow. And then I try to emulate them.

    I think too many parents today are forgetting that they are suppose to raise missionaries and mothers for the future. We think our kids need to be our friends and like us. They don't need to like us. They need to know we love them and care about them far deeper than they can understand.

    At a ward adult fireside, we listed goals we wanted to make as a ward. The list included every important gospel practice (Prayer, scripture study, magnifying callings, FHE, temple attendance) and my bishop looked at the list and asked if it was too much. I thought of the people in my ward not doing a single one of those things, and I said yes. But a woman wiser than me asked which shouldn't be on the list, what on the list could we skip? The answer? Nothing. We need to do it all.

    What hill will I die on? Any hill that keeps me or mine from eternal life.

    PS Most skinny jeans I've seen (Even the ones in my closet) don't look immodest to me at all! I think you can find ones that aren't suction cupped to your butt, but lots of people wear jeans that are bootcut that are suction cupped to their rears.

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  35. I'd prefer to think there's some middle ground. Just b/c you don't choose to die on a hill doesn't mean you don't choose to fight the battle. Retreat in the face on an implacable foe can be honorable, especially if it means you live to fight another day.

    I push my kids to do a lot of things they don't like. We have lots of rules encompassing all sorts of things – chores, modesty, sports, music lessons, church attendance, fhe, scripture reading, etc. But if they ever pushed back so hard and the contention was so great that the relationship was lost? Then it's not worth it. But that doesn't mean I let fear of possible, severe, future contention stop me from fighting the battles now.

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  36. I'm not Mormon (I hang out here for the parenting advice and the SAHM empathy) but I totally understand the frustration at activities scheduled on Sunday. My husband is a Lutheran pastor and in previous parishes, we've had kids miss church for everything from sports to speech tournaments to whatever.

    One thing we've done in the (small and rural) communities where we've lived is have the ministerium (the collective of clergy in town) ask that Wednesday nights be kept free. It's the night that most non-Mormon churches use for youth education and we ask the coaches to not have practice that day or at least release the kids that have Confirmation/CCD. We haven't been totally successful (in one place, they refused and I'd get kids at 7 p.m. who were dragging and tired in my Confirmation class) but it at least kept them from scheduling games that night.

    One hill that I think we'll choose to fight with our son (who is currently 2) and any future kids is that Sunday is for church. Part of it is that it's kind of nice when the pastor's family makes an effort to be there (though it's hard right now as we have no nursery and I'm usually right outside the sanctuary with my son) and part of it is that we're commanded to keep the Sabbath holy. We'll also probably fight to keep Sunday as a day of rest and not have activities on that day.

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  37. Jen, just wanted to add my welcome.

    mom o' boys, your comment made me think of an article I read recently that I can't get out of my head. I don't want to derail the conversation, but I did want to share it since you brought up Boys Adrift.

    http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2010/07/the-end-of-men/8135/1/

    (Media is also another thing we feel pretty strongly about.)

    And I LOVED this from Carrie: "the fight begins before the battle. We train for battle first."

    To me, that also means we do our best when our children are young to teach correct principles. As one commenter noted above, it's hard to fight battles with a 15-year-old. And, of course, some personalities are going to fight more than others, but I do think in general, when children grow up knowing and understanding true principles, it can help a lot with the parenting process and also the growing-up process for our kids as they learn to 'govern themselves.'

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  38. The only hill I can think of that I am willing to die on is respect. When my kids "sass" that's it. The rest is their choice–we have taught them as well as we can and so far (thankfully) their own testimonies seem to be dictating to them what would probably be a losing battle for me about modesty, word of wisdom, law of chastity, scripture reading and personal prayer. But sass still comes up from time to time. Disrespect is not a choice they make without a fight from me.

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  39. I guess I do have at least one other hill I'm willing to die on–personal responsibilities at home (read "chores" there). They live in this house and benefit from the efforts of others so (in my mind) there is simply no bowing out because they "don't feel like" doing their chores. I wish they'd grow their own testimonies about this one–some of them have but not all. It would make my job LOTS easier. πŸ™‚

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  40. Love this post and all the comments! Such an interesting topic. I really enjoy watching other parents and their methods/choices. I've got an almost-two-year-old and another one on the way so I really don't have a ton of experience to offer here, but I like thinking about it (and discussing it with my husband) now before we reach those future battles.

    I like to think that I'll be able to explain the principles behind various commandments and family rules well enough, and that my children will be intelligent and logical enough to understand my explanations, that we'll never have major battles. I'm so naive!! πŸ˜€

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