Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Choose Your Battles

“There are certain battles that you pick. When they're not worth picking, they're laughable stories.”
-David Beckham

Recently one of my children needed 30mg of a certain medication that was only available via prescription.

Problem was that this medicine was only available in 10mg, 15mg and 20mg pills.

So the doctor writes two prescriptions, one for the 20mg pill and a second for the 10mg pill.

I get to the pharmacy and after waiting for my turn, I finally get to hand the prescriptions to the pharmacist. Good news is that they have the 20mg in stock, but they are out of the 10mg.

Annoyed that I won’t be able to get all that I need in one place, I ask the pharmacist if I can get my 30mg by getting two 15mg pills, instead of the 20mg+10mg, since they are out of the 10mg.

He told me that despite the fact that it makes no difference for my child whether they get their 30mg by way of two 15mg pills, or via a 20mg pill with a 10mg pill, he is unable to accommodate my request. I will need to go to a different pharmacy to get the 10mg pill that he doesn’t have.

I have nothing against this pharmacist. I understand he is doing his job and his hands were tied by the laws governing the distribution of medicine. But this event led me to ponder how rigid people can be. How people tend to strictly want things done their way, even when they know that there are alternative ways that will yield the exact same result.

Too many times parents fall into this trap with their children. For many parents, it isn’t enough that their kids reach the parent’s desired destination for them, but they must also take the route the parents desire.

This is most prevalent during holidays, especially Pesach.

Let me illustrate this with a conversation I recently had with a person who is a grandfather.

He told me that during his pesach seder he insisted that his grandson eat the boiled potato given to him for karpas. 

The child politely asked the grandfather if he could have celery instead.

The grandfather insisted that the custom in the home was to have the boiled potato.

The child begged the grandfather to let him have celery.

The grandfather acknowledged that while there is no difference vis-a-vis the mitzva as to whether celery or a boiled potato are eaten, nevertheless, the family custom is the potato, so he needed to eat the potato.

As I was listening to the grandfather tell me this story, I was heartbroken. There are so many families who’d love it if their child would even attend a seder. They’d be ecstatic if their child would even eat matza. Yet here the grandfather was arguing not that a mitzva needs to be done, but it needs to be done his way.

Parenting contains lots of battles. Children keep pushing limits to see what they can get away with. It is a constant juggle between carrot (gifts) and stick (punishment). Yet before one even gets to that stage, they need to be able to recognize which fights are worth fighting and which battles one should just walk away from.

Yisroel Picker is a Social Worker who lives in Jerusalem. He has a private practice which specializes in working with people of all ages helping them understand their own thought processes, enabling them to improve their level of functioning, awareness, social skills and more. He also lectures on the topics of communication and child safety.  
You can email Yisroel at yisroel@ympicker.com
Follow Yisroel on LinkedIn here

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