In parenting, choosing your battles is key to maintaining good relationships.
Choosing the Right Battles
One of my teen daughters is a sweet and quiet girl. She has always been very modest, careful in her dress, and she used to try to play down her genuine prettiness. I love her personality and her eagerness to help and to please.
When she was seventeen, she asked me if she could cut her hair and put in some color. . .namely, blue! I was a little surprised, but I quickly gave my permission. Some friends were astounded that I didn’t mind.
Here’s the thing: hair color and style. . .how someone dresses. . .even, to a certain extent, piercings and tattoos—they don’t define the person. While I don’t think it’s a great idea for kids to wear revealing or inappropriate clothes, in most cases it’s a battle we as parents can choose not to fight.
When children feel that their parents have reasonable and flexible expectations for their outward appearances, they are more likely to be reasonable in return. They will ask for your opinion and really listen; they’ll respect your boundaries.
Sometimes one of the hardest things to do as a parent is to bite your tongue and not comment on a piece of clothing or hair style. Always take a moment and consider before you say something; is it really worth it, or is this something about which you can merely nod and smile?
I am not advocating letting kids dress inappropriately or indulge in dangerous or disrespectful behavior. Obviously, there have to be boundaries, and your children must learn to respect those lines without resentment. At the same time, though, parents should display some respect in return and allow their kids to spread their wings. . while they are still in the nest, where repercussions can be mitigated.
Oh, by the way, my daughter has her kept her hair colored. . right now, it’s hot pink and purple—very cute! Her eyes just sparkle, because she feels pretty. And guess what? Eventually Mom got some color too. . .