Stop Picking Your Battles

afflinkStop Picking Your Battles

When it comes to parenting we’ve got to ‘pick our battles’ right?


Can we just not battle at all please?

Why does there have to be a battle?

Why must we always define ourselves as ADULTS (enforcers of rules, winners of battles) and CHILDREN (needing to be tamed, having to be taught a lesson).

Can’t we all just be PEOPLE? Equally deserving of freedom, autonomy, and respect? People navigating the world together, loving each other, and working together?

The moment you decide to engage in a battle is the moment you define your relationship as winner and loser. That is not a healthy relationship.

It doesn’t have to be US versus THEM. It doesn’t have to be a battle. It really does not have to be so hard.

“Having been educated, as I was, to think about parenting, I thought that it was the job of a parent to make children behave. You see, once you define yourself as an authority, a teacher or parent, in the culture that I was educated in, you then see it as your responsibility to make people that you label a “child” or a “student” behave in a certain way. I now see what a self-defeating objective this is, because I have learned that any time it’s our objective to get another person to behave in a certain way, people are likely to resist no matter what it is we’re asking for. This seems to be true whether the other person is two or ninety-two years of age.” – Marshall B. Rosenberg

If your aim is to control people, then there’s going to be a battle. That is certain. People do not like to be controlled. That is a recipe for difficulty. Life will seem like a struggle. You might start to see your children as ‘naughty‘ or ‘defiant’ and wonder why they won’t just listen and ‘do what I ask them to’. Sound familiar?

The good news is, there is another way. Parenting needn’t be a battle of wills! All it takes is a shift in perspective and a commitment to trying something new.

Stop Picking Your Battles

We were taught that parents must teach their children right from wrong by means of punishment and rewards. But this is not the way to a respectful, peaceful relationship. You know that! You wouldn’t want to be in any other relationship where the other person was constantly seeking to control you! It’s a very sad state of affairs when so many people find life with children so unenjoyable, and I can’t help but think it’s because we are setting ourselves up as adversaries from the beginning! It’s not children that we need to control and change, it’s our reactions.

If you want a more connected relationship with your children, if you want more peace and harmony in your home, if you want to enjoy your children and parenting, you have to ditch punishment and rewards altogether. It seems daunting if that’s all you’ve ever known, I know. If this is the first time you’ve heard of parenting without punishment you might think it sounds unachievable. It’s not.

It’s time to redefine the job of a parent! We’re not here to wield power over little people and punish them until they do what we think is right. We’re here to guide and support them to grow into the people they are meant to be. We’re here to teach them how to deal with their emotions and impulses, not make them feel bad about them so they learn to bottle them up inside. If you want strong connections that will last throughout their whole lives, then you have to start now. Build secure respectful relationships so that they will always run to you, not from you, with their problems.

And enjoy them! Children are amazing and have so much to teach us if only we’d let them. No one knows how to live in the moment like a child does. Free yourself from the burden of chief rule enforcer and battle picker. It won’t all be sunshine and daisies but I promise you things can be a whole lot more peaceful if you shake off society’s arbitrary rules, and instead opt for respect and equality.

There’s no need to ‘pick your battles’ if everyone’s on the same team.

Stop Picking Your Battles


If you’re ready to move on from punishment and rewards to more respectful parenting, here’s some further reading for you:

Parenting Without Punishment: What DO you do? – One of my articles on how we try to parent.

Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life – STRONGLY recommend this book!! Life changing!!

Unconditional Parenting – Another very helpful book!




10 thoughts on “Stop Picking Your Battles

  1. I recently finally read Nonviolent Communication by Marshall Rosenberg and no book has ever changed my life so drastically quickly. If there’s one book i could have everyone on the planet read, it would be that.

  2. Hi Sara. I must look into that book. Thanks for the tip. I always found I was much more tolerant of my children when they were younger but I find it more difficult now that they are older and I have greater expectations, particularly with daily routines (getting out of the house for school!) and helping around the house. It’s something I struggle with. ‘Battles’ often ensue. It takes an awful lot of patience and self control, but I know that’s what’s required. Just not able to find my halo some day 😉

  3. Hello,
    I found your site because I believe in unschooling and didn’t even know it was a name for it! I agree with your blog post that kids are just mini adults and should have their own say and we are just here for their support and guidance. However, my partner is not on my side when it comes to this. He says my 3 year old is behind because he doesn’t know his ABCs or to write his name, where as I know he will get it when he’s ready. How can I deal with this? I want my little being to grow up to be who he wants to be and learn what he wants. But his father’s nagging in my ear just upsets me!

  4. Hi!!! Love your blog!!!!
    We have been “practising” homeschooling this year and due to register in NSW next year..
    Was wondering what state you are in?
    I understand NSW is much stricter and wondering how to go about meeting requirements whilst keeping child guided learning alive?
    Would love any insights you might have????????????????

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