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5 Parenting Struggles You Don't Have to Win


A picture of a mad mom and daughter butting heads

Don't butt heads with your kids. Some things you can let slide.

Photo © Peter Dazeley / Getty Images
If you've got children, you've got parenting struggles. But you don't have to win them all. Lay down your armor and let some of the most common parenting battles go:

Parenting Struggle # 1: Clean Your Plate

Your child's nutrition is important to you, without a doubt. But here's a secret every parent needs to know -- your child will eat when she's good and ready.

If she turns her nose up at the delicious meal you prepared him for breakfast, put it in the fridge and try again later. It's better than giving in and pouring her a bowl of Honey Smacks.

There's no question that picky eaters are some of the hardest people to live with, despite you're undying love for them. Work your way through this phase by hiding food or trying a one-bite rule instead of reciting the "Clean Your Plate!" mantra.

If that doesn't work for your family after several attempts, try another strategy. Just be patient when you're dealing with a picky eater and remember, this too shall pass.

Parenting Struggle #2: Go to Bed!

A bedtime routine is important for your children. Yet, your kids are flexible little creatures.

A hard and fast "be in the bed at 7 p.m. with teeth brushed, eyes shut and dreams of rainbows and fairies dancing around in your head" rule doesn't have to apply to your family. No one can gauge when your kids are tired like you. They have pretty good indicators of their own exhaustion too.

You don't have to live by the clock each night. Play with them. Read them books. Keep an eye on them. If they go to bed at 7 p.m. one night and 7:30 the next, it's no big deal. Really. They'll be fine.

Parenting Struggle #3: No TV

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) makes its recommendations clear on screen time for kids. Before you unplug the TV and take the batteries out of the remote control, think about what your kids could be learning by watching TV.

First, you need to do some homework to find the right TV shows for kids. Half an hour of SpongeBob SquarePants isn't the same as half an hour of WordGirl.

Next, make TV time interactive. Even shows like Wheel of Fortune can be good TV for kids because you can teach letter recognition and reading in a way that's much different than flash cards.

Should you park your kids on the couch for hours even if they are watching educational programming? Of course not. But TV time doesn't have to be the evil it's always accused of being.

Parenting Struggle #4: Play Nice (With Everyone)

Confession time: Do you always get along with every person you meet? For some reason, we try to force our kids to get along with everyone that's their height, age or has the same eye color.

Now what if someone told you you had to get along with those people you don't like? You would probably crinkle your nose and be tempted to stick your tongue out.

This is especially true in mom circles where it's assumed we all get along because we have children. Truth is, personalities clash over everything from parenting styles to snacks at a kids' sporting event.

Even so, you still put on the happiest face possible and attempt to have an amicable relationship with the other person. You don't have to like the other person but you know how to treat her with respect when you're around her.

We simply want our children to have friends and sometimes, without even realizing it, we push them to make nice with people they simply don't like.That doesn't mean we have to ban the other child from play dates and other social gatherings. Teach kids how to respect everyone, even those they would rather not play with at all. It's a great lesson for them on how to treat others, which they'll be able to use throughout their lifetime. (Just like you do!)

Parenting Struggle #5: Bossy Boots

They're so small and cute. Then one day, it happens. They become Mr. or Ms. Bossy Boots with orders for you and the world to obey.

Screaming and crying to get their way should never be allowed but there are some Bossy Boots behavior issues you can let go. For example, got a Bossy Boots who insists on picking out her own clothes? Ask yourself if it's a parenting battle you want to take on. Besides, does it really matter if she wears purple rain boots with a green sweater and pink tights on a sunny day?

For your own sanity, lay down your armor. Choose the battles that really matter. The earth will keep spinning if you let some things slide.

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