Parenting is no easy feat. While a parent is focused on trying to teach their children (usually how to be productive citizens of the world), they often hit walls, naturally created by the unforeseen budding personality of their offspring. Furthermore, throw in a co-parenting situation, and you have three personalities (or more, if you have more than one child), all wanting to weigh in on any given matter.
The word for today’s challenge:
Dictionary.com defines compromise as, “A settlement of differences by mutual concessions…” It brought to mind the concept of the “Win-Win” strategy, discussed in Steven R. Covey’s book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Mr. Covey also wrote a similar book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Families, which covers the same habits on a familial level.
Any relationship demands a willingness to reach across a divide and compromise on important issues.
Nowhere is this more evident, in my opinion, than parenting.
My husband and I, throughout the years as a couple, have had plenty of opportunities to practice the fine art of compromising. And, it truly is an art which requires dedication to the practice, and skills that need honing. Compromise isn’t always easy, and we sometimes struggle to meet a, “settlement of differences by mutual concessions.”
I’ll be honest – sometimes I am too stubborn and too proud to want to compromise.
And, even more truth – I need to work harder on compromising.
Then, there are the intense examples of compromise – the compromises you have to make with your mini-personalities (a.k.a. children). In our household, our mini-personalities are a magnified reflection of two strong-willed adults. So, I should not be surprised that we struggle to identify which battles to choose with our offspring, and which ones we are going to be willing to compromise.
Here are some parenting non-negotiable (read: non-compromises):
- Respect – for yourself and for others
- Honesty – a concept foreign to toddlers and preschoolers, but we work with what we have
- Love – for all creatures in the house
- Hard work – trying one’s best
- Going to church on Sunday (and Holy Days of Obligation)
- Dinner time – we all are served the same dinner
I’m sure we have others, but I can’t think of them right now.
Then, there are other situations I have learned to compromise on:
- Attending Mass on weekdays
- Meal choices for breakfast and lunch
- Books we check out of the library
- Which outfit to wear (I give my son a couple choices)
- Whether or not to get dressed (and what being dressed looks like) on days we aren’t leaving the house.
I know there will come a day when compromising as a parent will take on weightier significance, such as grades, dating (how it will look, and perhaps when), activities in school and extracurriculars, colleges, etc., and I suspect that is where I will need to turn to my faith life and prayer life routinely, to discern how best to approach those challenges.
The coolest thing to me is not how or what I compromise about, it’s how I teach the skills of compromise to my children. It’s how I teach (and show) them it is okay to have boundaries where they don’t have to compromise on certain issues; and, how I teach (and show) them that it is okay to give a little on less important subjects.
Because life … is full of compromises.