Is it Better to Do Right or Be Right?
A common question that comes up in sessions with parents is “Do you want to do what is right, or be right?” This might seem like a simple question. Some might even ask, “Can’t I do both?” As a parent, you can actually do all the right things, and still miss the mark if your teen thinks it is more important for you to win than to avoid hurting their feelings. Winning every argument can mean you lose your child’s respect. When this happens, your child may not look to you for help when they actually need it and may distance him or herself from you in the future.
Yes, we do sometimes disappoint our kids. And often that is good. In our world, they won’t always get their way and it may even be dangerous. While a lot has been said about raising our child’s self-esteem, one of the easiest ways to solve this problem is to show respect for their feelings and wishes. That doesn’t mean you always do what they want. But you can listen and consider their input and their feelings. It is possible they have an even better solution than you do. After all, they take after you, and they have the most at stake in the outcome. You may want to ask yourself, am I making this decision regarding my child because I want him or her to do a certain thing, or because it is actually good for him or her. For instance, a mom may want a girl to continue dancing even though a girl isn’t motivated to continue. The mom may enjoy the time off or be excited to see the recital and how much her daughter has learned. Maybe the mom loves dance, but the daughter doesn’t. Yes, kids need to learn to follow through with their commitments (they may need to quit at the end of the season after the recital). But it is fine to quit if they are really not enjoying it. Sometimes a little research can even solve the problem. It may be that a coach yells a lot, or there is bullying going on.
If we do not respect our kids wishes most of the time, they will learn respect is not a value worthy of pursuing. They also learn that they are not worthy of respect. Remember, it is much better to lose the battle and win the war. Next time you are in an argument with your teen, ask yourself, what if I listen to their opinion and really consider it? None of us has all the answers, and it is good to model that for your child because this is a truer view of our world. The parent always has the choice to have the final say, even if he or she decides to think it over first.