Anger Management: Picking Your Battles
Arguments happen. It is just inevitable that you will disagree, sometimes strongly, with someone in your life. When you are a husband and father, those disagreements will happen most often with your wife and children. The results can be stress, disharmony in your home life, and a world of other problems. Generally, we all want to win the arguments we may get drawn into, but winning is not always a victory. Sometimes, you really need to choose your battles.
The most important aspect of choosing your battles wisely is deciding which arguments are really worth having. Before digging in for a real fight, take some time to figure out whether or not there is an issue at stake that is worth the effort and resulting disharmony of an argument. If your child wants to wear an outlandish outfit to school, is it really worth fighting over? Or, is the issue at hand something that presents an actual physical risk to your child? A child who wants to play in a busy street or go off wandering with someone you and they barely know is a battle worth having, so pull out the big guns.
The next big thing to think about is why you are arguing in the first place. Some people just love to argue, solely for the sake of arguing. They feed off conflict, keeping it going, until it has grown out of control and then everyone ends up feeling bad. If you find yourself having battles of words just because you hate to feel like you are being told you are wrong, you should probably examine your motives.
Another important thing to determine when you are choosing your battles is whether or not you can actually win. Sometimes kids (and adults) can be so hardheaded that no amount of arguing or reasoning really has any effect in the grand scheme of things. You may assert your authority and demand that your child change out of his favorite shirt (the one he or she has worn for three straight days), but the child will not see reason. This is a child you’re talking about here—they are known to be slightly unreasonable. If you hold the hard position, you will just give everyone involved a headache; just count on the fact that kids have short attention spans and they will eventually grow out of the obsessive need to have that one piece of clothing.
The last point I want to make here is, remember that allowing yourself a defeat now can set the stage for a greater victory later. If the person you argue with most happens to be someone who feels he or she has to win every single conflict, use the above ideas, and when the arguments do not matter, bow out gracefully. Let the opponent know you don’t agree with them, but you are willing to let the issue slide. The end result is that you will appear far more reasonable, that your judgments are well thought out, and that you put rational thought into your decisions. And later, when the gloves come off, your arguments hold that much more weight, since you have shown a pattern of choosing your battles wisely.
Arguments are going to happen, even though we all wish they wouldn’t. As a parent and a husband, you will find yourself arguing about the widest range of things imaginable. By selectively choosing the issues you wish to fight for, you will find yourself enjoying a greater degree of peace and harmony, and your decisions will garner greater respect when you prove that you make your decisions carefully.