I'm curious about the notion that parents have to "pick their battles" with their children in the sense that they shouldn't try to win every point but focus only on the important issues. This seems like an eminently sensible strategy for dealing with a spouse or other equal, and even more-so a boss or other superior, but is this the best way to deal with a subordinate? Using this article as an example, here's a mother who dislikes them but lets her teenage daughter wear sexy t-shirts anyway.
Most parents interviewed said that they would rather not see their kids wear the racy shirts but that they sometimes give in. Rosa Pulley tried to order her daughter Keana, 17, a Gar-Field senior, to return a T-shirt that says, "yes, but not with u!" But Keana insisted. "I have to pick my battles," the mother said. "Okay, I don't like it. She's wearing it, but it could be something worse."
As I'm learning with dogs and dominance challenges, if you expect to lead the pack then it's important to win every single time. Parents who aren't willing to fight and win every battle probably discover soon thereafter that they aren't able to lead and control their child. I suppose that this dominance role should diminish as the child gets older and takes control of her own life, but I don't think that transition should be allowed to complete until the child is self-sufficient.