4 Things Not to Bug Your Kids About

choose your battles

My mother was very, very concerned about one particular aspect of my and my sister’s life — our hair. “Why are you wearing your hair that way?” she’d ask. She’d say our hair looked frizzy, limp, dry, or just plain old, not good.

Now that I’m a mother, I get it. I want my children to look their best, or, at least, presentable. But as a mom, you have to choose your battles wisely. I try not to bug my kids about their hair or other minor appearance matters. Because speaking of matter, does it really? Here are 4 things to not bug your kids about.

1. Appearance

Okay, I’m not talking about extremes or hygiene issues. If my son is talking to me and his breath smells awful, I will remind him of the virtues of teeth brushing. But if my daughter plucks her eyebrows a little too much for my taste, I let it go.

Our kids want to feel approved of and valued by us. If we are constantly harping on their appearance and how we can help them improve, they’ll not only think we don’t like the way they look, they’ll think that’s what we value.

2. Romance

My mother-in-law is a great person, but she is very focused on the romantic aspect of my children’s lives. When she visited my son’s school on grandparents’ day, she pointed out girls in his class and asked him which one was his girlfriend. My son was in kindergarten.

Again, choose your battles wisely. It’s good to talk with our kids about relationships and, when the time is right, love and sex. But to make that a theme of our constant concern, “Why don’t you have a girlfriend?” “Do all of your friends date?” is too much.

3. Piercings

I got a second ear piercing in college. I’ve since let it close up, but I remember the fun of grabbing a friend to head to the mall together to get that second piercing. These days, even conservative-minded girls have two or three earring piercings.

If you’re against multiple piercings, make it about your tastes and your beliefs instead of insinuating that your child is somehow out of control. You can also set up parameters, “If you want to get your ears pierced again, you need to let me know first so we can make sure you go to a safe place.” Then, do speak about piercings beyond the ears. A dentist I know says that piercings in the tongue and mouth area are unsafe and potentially dangerous.

4. Faith

The key here is to avoid nagging our kids about their faith. It’s important to share your faith with your children and set the tone for how your family will live out that faith—going to church, volunteering to help others, having standards about what you watch and listen to in the media.

Ideally, you want your kids to feel comfortable coming to you with their questions, and even their doubts, about God. We can’t push our kids into a relationship with God, but we can help them get to know His goodness by practicing what we preach. The bottom line is that we want to focus on what’s really important in our children’s lives. Are they kind? Are they working hard in school? Do they love God and others? And, we also have to look at ourselves—are we really just concerned that other people will think less of us if our children aren’t picture perfect?

Love your child in the big things, and love them in spite of the little things.

Tell us! What are some things that you let go?