Parenting: The Fine Line

I’m no expert at parenting. My life plan was not to be a mother; I use this as an excuse whenever raising offspring is difficult.

Still, I care about my kids. I care that they aren’t psychopaths or sociopaths. I care that they know how to cook, clean, and respect authority. They’ll definitely put the seat down.

Training my spawn involves a lot of strain, some of which comes from doubt:

Am I doing the right thing by making his friend send him home to finish a job?

Should I have yelled when my sweet, little pre-teen gave me attitude?

Was that too harsh to make him walk to school because he slept in and refused to get ready on time?

(In case you wonder at the masculine pronouns, I have all boys.)

I thought about the fine line of parenting today. I believe I thought about it the third time I prepared for vocal conflict with my most difficult son.

Me in the driver’s seat, patiently, “So, you threw the carseat into the back, yet say it’s #4’s fault because it hit his head before hitting #3?”

Him, mimicking my patient manner, “Yes. #4 made a dumb decision to climb over the seat. If he hadn’t done that, #3 wouldn’t have been hit.”

Believe it or not, this exchange went on for a good ten minutes. He refused responsibility for the thrown-carseat injuries; I refused to let him dodge said responsibility.

The Line here is Respect vs. “pick your battles.” Almost all of my lines are Something vs. “pick your battles.” My choice to engage (or not) goes back to that no-sociopath thing.


I know not all of you have children -at least, not currently. Whether you have or not, have you felt the strain of walking a line? What did you choose? Was it worth it?

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Here’s what went down this past week:
Wednesday, October 16: Wrote “Where, Oh Where Should My Blogging Go?

Thursday, October 17: Throwback to my first post, “Hello, My Name Is.”

Friday, October 18: Winner of the Weekly Terribly Poetry Contest. Congratulations to MagicQuill17!

Saturday, October 19: Announced the 48th Weekly Terrible Poetry Contest. The theme is the Old West. PLEASE ENTER!

Sunday, October 20: Shared Carrot Ranch‘s 3rd rodeo. Another one’s coming tomorrow!

Also wrote “The Wife Stands Alone” for Pensitivity’s Three Things Challenge.

Monday, October 21: An inspirational quote by Dieter F. Uchtdorf.

Tuesday, October 22: “Since the Bombs Fell: One,” the first in a dystopian series.

Wednesday, October 23: Today.


Photo Credit: Unsplash

©2019 Chelsea Owens

54 thoughts on “Parenting: The Fine Line

  1. I have two sons. They are good boys most of the time but I also have these sorts of experiences. I am relentless because I am worried that they will get out of hand if I don’t nip their disobedience and belligerence in the bud. It is exhausting.

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  2. I definitely feel the strain of walking the line at times. I’ve noticed my response tends to be “Well, I’ve tried the cautious route a few times now, and here we are again. Time to Leroy Jenkins this.” The immediate results kind of suck, but at the end of it all/in the long run, I’ve come out with what I wanted (or what was needed) in the end. I hope the car seat injuries aren’t too terrible.

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      1. I feel the same way. I have a daughter and a son. The attitude always gets me. My daughter’s now 18 so she has learned to control it. But, I’ve been put through a serious obstacle course for the last three years. I just found your site and love it.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I imagine most parents go through the second guess thing from time to time. I certainly do/did. I used to follow the choose your battles philosophy as a teacher. If we can let some of the trivial stuff go, then we can devote our time to the matters in raising a child that are most important.

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    1. I fight that line constantly. There is so much push back with my boys, and I feel that they absolutely need to respect their parents. (I don’t beat them or anything, but won’t let go drop when they are disrespectful.)


      1. That is one of those battles that you should fight, Chelsea. This raising children business can take a lot out of a person, and then one day you realize I did a pretty damn good job.

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  4. It’s terribly difficult. Parenting is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Am I doing too much or too little, am I being too strict or too lenient? Other people always have something to say about that, right? “You’re his mom, you decide how long his hair is!” vs. “Kids need to decide for themselves, their wishes need to be respected!” Honestly, it’s a fine line between laissez-faire and telling them what to do. Can he simply decide not take his medicine when the doctor told him to? Can he not eat healthy, because he prefers chocolate? Those are the battles we are currently fighting. It’s hard, because he’s too young to understand that we mean well when he can’t have cookies for dinner. We do what we can and hope for the best!

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  5. Never had kids so do not speak from experience or any real authority. Remember that! ( It applies in many areas of my life – sigh).

    Kids NEED boundaries and you are the one who gets to set them (In conjunction with input from ‘Mr Owens’?? ) It is in the nature of kids growing up to experiment with said boundaries to see just what they can and cannot get away with.

    You are outnumbered, but you have better experience than they do and you’ve probably been where they are now and have yet to get to so that’s in your favour. 🙂

    Be firm but fair and remember – what is obvious to you might not be to them so consider things from their point of view before you smash them over the head with your Wisdom!

    Don’t take no cr@p girl. 🙂

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  6. Having never raised a child outside of myself, I have to say I do feel a fair amount of defiance is a right of passage. But that could be judgement made solely on my own experience, and you do indeed want to protect your offspring from that… Never mind….

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  7. Parenting is going have lots of regrets. This is why God created the office of Grandparent. Grand parenting is much more rewarding. Oh, and your kids will delight in tossing back all those regrets at you around the Thanksgiving table when they are adults. Every family has their own version of “cold peas for breakfast” story. Raising boys is undeniably exhausting, frustrating, yet so satisfying when they come back and say, “Thanks, Mom.” Raising a lid down man in a lid up world is a worthy contribution.

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  8. I pick my battles for sure. My mantra for parenting was that I was raising future adults (which I think is yours too if I remember correctly) and I always reverse engineered. I thought about what traits I wanted mt daughter to have, and then thought about what she needed to learn to get to that point. I’m also not afraid to say I made a mistake, and reverse a decision if it felt bad after, but this was rare because I carefully make decisiins before I say yes or no. I think consistency is the number one rule of parenting

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  9. Raising two sons… Some things I’ve learned that I think are valuable. You can’t be your child’s friend until they are self sustaining adults. Listen to all the advice you can, but ultimately you need to do what is right for you and your family. Both parents need to be on the same page in regards to discipline. You cannot pull the ‘Wait until your father gets home card’ all the time. As for picking battles – yep, the clean room didn’t happen as often as I’d have liked, but my son’s always opened the doors for their elders and said please and thank you. And it was nice to hear that after they’d grown that they actually thought we did a good job. (Though admittedly they may not have been happy campers 100% of the time while growing up.)

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      1. Whom ever is the stay at home parent ends up being the ‘harder’ one I think. Though when you have a household where both parents work… I wonder how that limited parenting time can be used without spoiling the child/children?

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  10. If we ever have children, I plan to teach them to always look at the big picture and to broaden this skill as they grow older (age appropriate with grace). I’ve read this is a key trait of INTJ parenting. I don’t want to think for them all my life, I want them to be independent decision makers at the end who takes everything together in a logical, compassionate view. I don’t care if Susie and Johnnie are doing “x”, what do you think you should be doing kind of thing. Or if you do x decision, how will that affect y later on?

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  11. We all do our best. Some days we are super moms, other days we are stressed to the max. Moms make mistakes. We aren’t perfect. I was strict when it came to politeness, manners, and homework, apparently it worked.because my grandchildren are being taught those same skills by their father so he learned it and It passed down. Both sons always said that people always commented on how polite they were. I was probably more lenient with the younger one just because I had him at 40 and my views on life were less intense as an older mom.
    But, here’s the thing, as I’m on this cancer journey, and often taken to treatments and appointments by my oldest son, who lives locally, and my younger son flies down every other weekend to help after chemo I can confirm that whatever I did-as a mom while they were growing up, it must have been good enough . Because my sons grew up to be caring, kind men. They love me and are here to help during my time of need. And thats really gratifying to know.
    If your children know they are loved it will all work out.

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      1. My sons , even though grown always include me in their three way texts. (The two of them and moi.)There’s still lots of fun teasing but because they are grown it’s humor and witty retorts now. Both share their daily lives, at work, with each other and include me in it. My oldest will send pics of his kids at their school fun run and Boy Scout and Girl Scout pics because I’m too ill to join them right now and my youngest shares private stuff that has to do with his director’s job because he knows I understand the world of show biz. I’m very lucky they stay connected. We’re a small family now, so it’s nice that we’re close. My sons are as different as night and day. Brothers won’t always agree but they will grow up to love one another. You’ll see. Your kids are young now. It’s all so challenging. But down the road you laugh at why you even stressed over anything.

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  12. Parenting is so tough. I found myself yelling far to often at my kids this past month. My anxiety has been brutal lately so I literally have had panic attacks if I allow my heart rate to rise in anger. This means these days I have just learned to stop talking when I’m upset until my heart rate slows back down and my breaths come in easy. Hopefully one day they will all be responsible, likeable humans 🤞🏻

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  13. The good news is there is more than one “correct” way to parent! My husband often fusses at me for giving my children choices when I see a meltdown about to happen. He feels like I am making a compromise I should not have to while I see it as dodging a bullet. For example, at dinner time say we have different colored spoons, I will let them pick the color spoon they eat with. It is the little things in life! My ultimate goal is to give them as many choices as possible, so when I do say “no” they know I am serious. I also like to implement what I call the “talk it out” method and my husband does not like this method either. If my three year old does something wrong I want to make sure before “punishing” that she knows what she did that was wrong, why it was wrong, and what will happen if she does it again. I do this with my one year old also, but just to set the foundation for consequences, not because I think she takes me seriously! Her laugh says otherwise. I try to be as consistent as possible, because I know it is super important when setting boundaries. Once my “choices” (if applicable) and “talk it out” methods fail then I will use time out, take away items (if they are involved in the behavior), and if absolutely justifiable I will spank. I wont lie. I find myself hollering like a crazy lady at least twice a day. I take a step back, pray, and most importantly I show love no matter what. Mine are a little younger than yours though and I am sure that with older children come more difficult problems to overcome. I think you are rockin it though!

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    1. Thanks so much!! Your methods are very similar to mine, though I often put mine in time out THEN talked about what he could have chosen to do differently. 🙂

      Older kids are much easier in terms of self-governing and autonomy, but much more difficult in terms of self-governing and autonomy…


  14. I think all of parenting is about walking that line and wishing you had a crystal ball, especially with the challenging one. (There’s always a challenging one.) All you can do is operate on Best Guess principles and hope for the best.

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  15. I have a difficult time with “picking my battles.” I can be a bit of a control freak, and it is beginning to become a problem with my preteen daughter. I do think it’s important to show your kids (boy or girl) how to be respectable members of society, and to try and curb them from becoming psychopaths/sociopaths. In today’s world it is very hard to teach your kids to do right, when there is so much wrong around us. Thank you for sharing your story. You are not alone on the ride of motherhood:)


    1. Thank you! Yes, the control freak vs upstanding citizen line is one I walk often. Whenever my one son speaks up in a disrespectful way, I never let it stand. I notice he’s then criticizing his brothers more and that he behaves defensively.

      Disrespect is such a trigger for me, though. I witnessed another relative be bullied and disrespected by his son so often.


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