Choose Your Battles Wisely

I took my girls shopping for spring clothes yesterday. It took us five hours, and we got everything on our list except for pajamas for my oldest. Taking my girls shopping together is an experience. They have polar opposite opinions about what they want to wear. For my youngest, the more sparkles and bling, the better. My oldest won't wear a shirt or pants that has any kind of embellishment on it at all. It makes it difficult to shop with them together. My oldest is almost 11 (wow, did I just write 11?) When it comes to shopping for clothes, she's tough to find things for. She's not interested in frills or form-fitting clothes (I think she would prefer to simply have her clothes hang from her shoulders and not touch the rest of her body.) She doesn't like pink or purple, and she doesn't wear jewelry. The most important thing to her about her clothes is comfort. The older and bigger she gets, the harder she is to shop for.

Don't get me wrong. I love the fact that I don't have to worry about her wanting to wear some of the less modest fashions. She only wants to wear shorts that hit the tops of her knees, and the looser her shirts are, the better. Up until this spring, I've had a no track pants to school rule. Track pants are my daughter's favorite item of clothing. She loves how they feel and how little they restrict her movement. But my issue has always been that you need to dress for success. Track pants are for the soccer field. Nicer clothes are for school.

But this spring, as I scoured the stores for clothes my daughter would wear, I realized that I was not choosing my battles wisely. As I stared in dismay at some of the fashions designers think young girls should wear, I came to the conclusion that track pants weren't the end of the world. I realized that I was making an issue out of something that simply isn't worth it.

So, yesterday, I took my daughter to the Nike outlet and bought her two outfits that include some cute, capri track pants. I even persuaded her to buy a pair with a hot pink stripe down the side. Her new outfits are feminine and modest. They don't detract from her ability to do her schoolwork, and they didn't break my pocketbook. We also bought a few outfits that better fit my idea of "appropriate" school attire. She's happy, and I'm happy. We didn't stand in the store and argue over what we were going to buy, and she didn't end up with a drawer full of clothes she won't wear.

As parents, we have to choose the battles we want to fight. I learned this lesson a long time ago with my youngest, but for some reason I still chose to fight this particular battle over clothes with my oldest. It wasn't until I felt the Holy Spirit prick my heart with the question, "How is your daughter's choice in clothing not honoring God?" that I started to reconsider. I had to answer that there is really nothing in her clothing decisions that doesn't honor God. It's my sensibilities that she's hurting.

When we find ourselves in a battle of wills with our kids, we need to stop and decide if what we're fighting about is really important to God -- or if it's just important to us. If what our kids are doing isn't dishonoring to God, then we need to decide whether it's really a battle we want to fight. Some battles are. I will continue to make my kids take their muddy shoes off at the door. There's nothing in the Bible about it, but I don't want to spend my days cleaning mud off the carpet. But some battles aren't. When we fight those battles with our kids, we set ourselves up for resentment. We make mountains out of molehills, and we exasperate our kids, which is something God commands us not to do (Ephesians 6:4). Those are the battles we need to let go of.

Choosing our battles is hard. On days when we're tired and frustrated, we just want our kids to do things our way. It's easier, and we know better. But whether your child is a toddler or a teenager, there are probably some battles you're fighting that simply aren't worth it. Let go of those battles today. You'll find your load is lighter and your kids are happier.

And when you see my daughter at school in her new track pants and matching T-shirts, let her know how nice she looks. I'll be telling her before she walks out the door.

Linking up today with Raising Mighty Arrows.