You’ve probably heard the same conversations about strong-willed children that I have heard.
Don’t those conversations give you the impression that a strong will is a curse both to the child and to the parents? But is it really a curse?
Thinking back about our own children, we were completely convinced that our oldest son, Caleb, was strong-willed. Our first child had been so easy to correct, but not this little boy. This one taught me to say, “If I’ve told you once, I’ve told you a million times not to…” And really, a million times didn’t sound like an exaggeration to me. Correct, discipline, punish – whatever you want to call it – I was doing it from sunrise to sundown, or maybe I should say, sonrise to sondown!
And then our cute little red-haired daughter came along, and I wondered why I had ever thought Caleb was strong-willed. Melody came into the world determined to have her way. She was social to the extreme, never knew her friends’ names, but bossed them every minute they played together. She made herself welcome at all of our neighbors’ homes (thank goodness we lived in a friendly, close-knit neighborhood!) and convinced the neighbors to buy her watercolor “masterpieces” and, later, her homemade snickerdoodles (which really were worth buying!)
We tried every trick in the book to bend our bossy little girl’s will to ours, but we always felt like complete failures.
Now, looking back on those strong wills, I cannot say that a strong will is a curse or even a problem.
My son is now a husband and father of a newborn baby girl. He has chosen his own way in life – not the way we thought he would go – which includes the Air Force and moving many states away from us. Choices we did not expect, but choices that have been good for his family. His strong will is necessary in this world that makes fathers look like useless hangers-on and that puts down the value of the traditional family.
And the pushy little red-head? She is also married and a mom. She also made choices we did not anticipate, but that were right for her. Her strong will serves her well now as she makes the sacrifices necessary to stay at home with her children and to support and encourage her husband who works long hours. Her strong will supports her through potty training and breastfeeding and learning creative ways to supplement the family income from home.
Yes, it is difficult to parent a strong-willed child.
However, it is so worthwhile to steadily and faithfully and prayerfully do your best to mold that will and direct it and properly channel it so that one day a mature strong-willed adult will emerge ready to take on the challenges of their world and their culture.
Just keep telling yourself that his or her strong will is not a curse, but a blessing for the future.
With God’s help, you can do it!
Today’s post is written by Barbara Deatherage. Barbara regularly shares on her personal blog, Worth Doing Poorly and is actively involved in ministry at Stonebriar Community Church. We invite you to visit often as Barbara and others share their parenting wisdom.