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A Peek Into the Life of a Working Mom: Conflict Resolution and Parenting--The Clothes Standoff

Our daughter is 3 1/2 years old and 3 1/2 is a time when personalities begin to crystallize. For my daughter that mean that she is a girl who knows increasingly knows what she wants. Unfortunately for her, she is the smallest person in our house, which means that she has the least amount of control over her life. And at 3 1/2 it means that she is just learning how to communicate. And when she is upset and at a loss for words she tends to scream and cry. Despite what you might think, screaming and crying is not a very effective conflict resolution tool. Instead that tends to escalate it.

The toddler last year in an outfit she liked.

Increasingly at our house, conflict tends to surround clothes.  Even though I do a decent amount of conflict resolution training a part of my job, my toddler and her strong personality, sometimes causes me to doubt all of my experience.  She is very adamant about what she likes and what she wants to wear. Most days her choice wearing a dress or a skirt.  If we challenge her choices, she puts up quite a fight.

She used to wear whatever we put out for her. Recently, that has changed.  Yesterday, I had to go to work early and when I left there was a huge battle going on. The toddler was demanding to wear a certain dress to school. Her father insisted on making her wear another outfit and it sounded like a full out war.  As I walked out the door I heard screaming, yelling and a child screeching, "Mommy!" It was enough to make my heart break.  As a working mom, nothing is worse that feeling as if you are abandoning your child in her time of need in pursuit of a paycheck, even if her father is generally wonderful, you like the job and are really excited on payday.

Another standoff occurred the other evening when my friend, Kezia and her husband Chris, were visiting.  That time, I was the victim of the crying and screaming.  My daughter had decided that she wanted to wear her street clothes to bed. I generally believe that street clothes don't belong in the bed or on the bed. There are so many germs in the world that we owe it to ourselves to keep where we sleep as clean as possible.  Apparently, my daughter is unaware of my beliefs.  She insisted on wearing her street clothes to bed and could not be convinced otherwise.

So we got into a battle over her changing her clothes and putting on her pajamas. Her cries were shrill, frequent and intense.  She got on the floor of her room writhing, as if in pain, even though I wasn't touching her. I felt completely out of control.  It was just the image I wanted to portray for company, you know?!

Kezia, wise woman that she is, made this comment, "some things just aren't worth fighting over." I know that she's right, but in the moment, Andre and I sometimes forget about what makes sense and instead focus on what we want. We let it turn into a battle of wills. And what we keep discovering is that our will pales in comparison to the will of our daughter.

After what happened yesterday, I have decided that I'm going to follow Kezia's advice. The frequency of the battles are wearing me down. Also, she's right, in the grand scheme of things, it really isn't worth fighting over. 
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