Chin tilled high, mouth pursed in frustration; it is obvious she is not going to budge of her own accord. I could try cajoling her or perhaps teasing, but those methods rarely work. Only gentleness, firmness, a calm spirit, and the grace of God is going to pull us through this one. My strong-willed child is ready to face off and I think I need a little help.
I am blessed with several strong-willed children. Did you catch that? Yes, blessed. I confess, I have not always thought of it as such. There are times having a strong-willed child is frustrating and tiring; and can cause said tired adult to question whether they are an effective parent. None-the-less, strong-willed children are a blessing.
I recently had the pleasure of reading The Strong-Willed Child, by Dr. James Dobson. In his book, Dr. Dobson confirms this belief and offers encouragement to parents raising these amazing children.
- My Child Has Free Will – My child is not a robot. God created them with a will of their own and an independent spirit. It is foolish – yes, foolish – of me to assume I have control over them or that I can force them to do what is right. Should my child make unwise choices, this is not necessarily a reflection of poor parenting on my part. We need to be careful to make this distinction. If there is improvement needed on my part, so be it. However, my child also needs to be made accountable for their own decisions.
- I’m Not Alone – Believe it or not, I am not the only parent blessed with strong-willed children. Neither are you. I know, it seems as if everyone else’s children are perfect and the parents have it all under control. But, that’s a lie.
- Hold Ground – The key to winning ground in our parenting is to remain consistent. It’s easy to give in when I’m tired, but I’m only doing my child a disservice in the long run. It’s not going to be easy, but I need to stand firm. I need to be gentle, but not give in.
- It Will Get Better – No matter how bad things might seem right now, I need to trust the Lord is doing a work in my child and give them over to Christ. If we are being consistent in our parenting, doing everything God has asked of us, there is nothing more I can do. It might take a while, but things will get better.
- Being Strong-Willed is Not Necessarily a Bad Thing – I’m not sure why, but being strong-willed is always associated with being bad. However, being strong-willed is a blessing. Strong-willed people with a solid foundation in Christ cannot be swayed in their beliefs. Thus, the problem isn’t strength of will, but the actions and attitudes of their heart which need to be adjusted.
- God Gave Me This Child For a Reason – God didn’t give this child to someone else, He gave them to me. He knows I am just what this little person needs, and they are just what I need. Instead of wondering why I am going through this, I need to be asking myself what God is asking of me and how I can be going about accomplishing His work. If I am still here, still parenting, God is not done with me yet. What more could I be doing to help my child?
We need to realize this is not our fight but the Lord’s. We do what we can, then trust God to make a change in the heart of our strong-willed child. He will work in their hearts, minds, and spirits. All we need to do is pray and have faith.
I don’t know as I learned anything new in reading The Strong-Willed Child. But, it was a good reminder and a great read. If you are new to parenting, have just discovered you have a strong-willed child or two, or just need a bit of encouragement, may I suggest you pick up the book. May you be encouraged.
Time to Chime In: Are you blessed with strong-willed children? What has the Lord been teaching you through the adventure of parenting?