Is This the Hill I Want to Die On?



Almost every day I ask myself this question? Do I really want to fight this battle to the death? No, I am not a Samurai Warrior.

I am a mom of teenagers.

When they are asleep and looking so sweet I will tell you they are the most amazing creatures in the world. Yet when they are awake and battling with me because their 16 years of knowledge supersedes mine, I find myself slowly slipping into a mentality of insanity. I repeat this cycle over and over again. The constant arguing over video games, clothes, dishes, dog walking, food, and the list goes on….. Yet, the only person getting more and more grey hair is me.

Something had to change in this vicious cycle we were in.

Being the adult that I am, I made peace with the fact that I had to be the one to change. Because I have a “busy brain” with lots of tabs open I knew I needed a simple phrase to fall back on every time I was ready to suit up and go to battle with my 17 and 15-year-old. In order to truly have them listen to the important topics of life, I knew I had to walk away from the small stuff and let them learn their own way.

For my own sanity, I had to make a change. Plus I started having this reoccurring dream of them wheeling me up to an assisted living care facility and dropping me off only to never return. Through prayer and meditation the phrase “Is this the hill you want to die on” kept returning to me. It made sense. It was simple and it changed that cycle of getting nowhere with senseless arguing.

This was not an easy change for me and my Irish stubborn roots fought hard against it.  I left post-it notes in a variety of places, I wrote it as a reminder on my phone, and I repeated it to myself as my new mantra. Eventually, it became a habit. When one of my teens now gives me a nasty attitude, I ask myself “Is this REALLY the hill I want to die on?”.

Most of the time it is not.

My teenagers are teenagers, they have their own battles they are going through. They are faced with the challenges of social media, a health pandemic, and a negative political environment that stresses me out as a 40-year old woman. I am their safety net. I am the one who is supposed to love them throughout all of the stressors. It is no wonder that I am also the one who takes the brunt of the negative attitudes, the tempers, and the cockiness. Because they know at the end of the day that I will love them.

The choice to fight with them on the small stuff was only harming me.

In carefully choosing my battles, I am learning that they listen more, they argue less, and they choose when to dig their heels in. This did not occur overnight. It took time, restraint, a lot of counting to 100 in my head, and a few nights of locking myself in the pantry with a glass of wine (go ahead, judge me). The result has been worth it, I feel saner and at the end of the day, that is what matters the most.

What have you found to be helpful in dealing with teenagers? Let us know in the comments!