I know, I know.
I’ve said it a zillion times already: Pick your battles.
Because some issues aren’t worth the hassles and stress of fighting with a kid. Exceptions can always be made, however staunchly you hold fast to your rules. Arguing with your child isn’t worth the silly reasons we sometimes fight about.
I know. But hear me out: It all started when I made a burrito…
And as any parent can attest, cooking dinner with kids underfoot can get pretty hectic. Especially with a four-year-old and toddler twins. So I’m here cooking burritos from a new recipe—not the one I usually cook, but it’s a burrito, so how different can it get?
I plop the plates in front of the kids… then feel my heart sink when they unanimously reject their meal.
I held my ground. I argued. All that hard work! We don’t have backup dinners! I won’t have any picky-eaters in this house!
But here’s the thing: How many more times have they been open to the meals I cook than the times they’ve rejected them? What about the times they gave me no grief about eating salad greens, quinoa or even meals I didn’t enjoy (and discreetly tossed in the trash)?
That night, I forgot all that. I morphed into Horrible Mom: I rolled my eyes. I forced them to eat the burrito. I threatened punishments left and right.
Accepting defeat, I relented, begrudgingly and angrily. I slammed peanut butter and jelly sandwiches in front of them, as if somehow I failed and lost power. And while my kids chomped away at their sandwiches, I felt like I let them “win.”
And then… I took a bite of the burrito.
The remorse and empathy welled up inside me. I couldn’t believe 1) that they took more than one bite of the stuff, and 2) the way I acted towards my kids. Over a burrito.
Was it worth an argument? Was relenting to peanut butter sandwiches instead of the meal I cooked enough to disrespect my kids?
Is diverting from the norm really going to turn them into picky eaters or me into a short-order cook or whatever else I was trying to avoid by forcing them to eat a burrito?
The worst feeling was that they didn’t ruin dinner in refusing my meal. I ruined it by tainting it with my own negative reactions.
After that night, I remembered to be a more understanding mom. One who will choose kindness and empathy over an argument. One who will ask if this—a burrito—is even worth arguing with your children about.
It’s not. These are exceptions, and petty ones at that. My kids won’t be picky eaters because of one night of not eating a terrible-tasting burrito. And even if the burrito tasted wonderful, the whole incident still wasn’t worth losing my temper over it. I could have tried other ways to get a better handle of the situation:
I could have tried to negotiate and given a better-tasting side dish. I could have tried again later. I could have looked deeper into other reasons they might not have wanted to eat (such as not giving too much food before dinner, or sensing if they’re over-tired, distracted or upset).
Or maybe I could have just tasted the darn burrito first.
Lessons learned: What seems like the end of the world… isn’t (I mean, c’mon, a burrito?). And always, always choose kindness. It usually works better anyway.
Your turn: What was the silliest thing you got upset about with your kids? How might parents better avoid arguments with their kids in the future?
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