It’s Not Easy Raising a Strong Willed Child, But It Is a Gift

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We fight a lot. We butt heads often. We argue on the regular.

And to be honest, he seems okay with it. He seems fine with it. He seems to actually enjoy it somewhat, and that’s probably the thing that gets to me the most.

Like disagreeing with me gives him some kind of high.

Like trying to win the power gives him some kind of kick. Like pushing the buttons of what he can get away with gives him some kind of weird, sick pleasure.

I’m a people-pleaser, a peace-lover, a don’t-rock-the-boat kind of gal all the way down deep into my core, so I don’t understand his desire for contempt, for control, for cunning his way out of every situation.

As submissive as I am, he is ten times more stubborn.

As calm as I am, he is ten times more cantankerous. He is strong-willed from the very top of his little blonde head to the very bottom of his dirty toes.

He’s only 5, but he gives me a run for my money every single day. Every. Single. Day.

I’ll say “turn left,” and he’ll say “but I want to go right.” I’ll say “jump up,” and he’ll say “no, down is better.” I’ll say “don’t do that again,” and he’ll look me square in the eyes and do it again. And again. And again.

He would rather watch me pull every single highlighted hair out of my head than agree with me. He would rather sit in timeout for an entire day than make things easy on me.

He would rather let me put every single Nerf gun in play-jail than be on the same side as me.

Questioning and challenging and pushing the limits is just in his very nature. It’s been this way from before he could even speak.

At one, he would scream and kick and yell his way out of nap time. At two, he would fight getting buckled into his car seat until he was bright red with fury.

At three, I don’t even want to talk about three. That was a rough year. For everyone.

And now at five, he fights me about screen time and getting dressed for school in the morning, and how much milk to pour into his bowl of Cheerios.

The other night, we had a  fight over whether or not he could sleep on top of a table. Y’all. I kid you not. The argument went on so long that my husband physically removed me from the situation.

I saw a counselor and sought his advice on what I was doing wrong.

I sat in the chair and cried and told story after story. I used to bawl “I want to be a good mom. I just need him to let me be one. Why won’t he let me be one???”

I sought some kind of guidance that would lay out the groundwork for turning him into somebody who was nice to get along with, who knew how to bend, and obey, and yield.

I used to pray that he would change.

It sounds horrible now, I can’t stand even typing those words out now, but I just didn’t know what else to do. I was so tired of fighting.

Disciplining every day was draining my spirit. It was all so far out of my comfort zone that it zapped every ounce of energy I had.

He was my first child, my first baby, my first time.

I already had no clue what I was doing, but he really just threw me off the deep end. And I just knew that I had to be royally screwing everything up.  I mean, I had to be, or otherwise he would be easier, right? Aren’t kids supposed to be easier and more pleasant and happier?

One night, in the middle of my prayers, God smacked my hard with some tough love. It still hurts me to this day just to think about.

“Stop trying so hard to change him. Stop trying so hard to mold him and work him and pray him into who you think he should be.

Let him be him.

I created him that way.

I created him to be a stubborn child, because one day, I am going to need him to be a man who stands his ground. I created him to be a difficult child, because one day, I am going to need him to be a man who is unwavering in his decisions. I created him to be a strong-willed child, because one day, I am going to need him to be a man whose ideologies don’t sway, whose beliefs don’t waver, whose integrity doesn’t give way to anything or anyone.

I created him to be a dominant child, because one day, I am going to need him to be a man who leads the masses. I am going to need him to be a man who leads his family. I am going to need him to be a man who leads people to my name.

This isn’t about you, Amy.

This isn’t about what you want. This isn’t about what you need. This isn’t about living up to your expectations of all you hoped motherhood would hold.

This is about me.

This is about I want. This is about what I need. This is about you raising a child who goes out into the world and isn’t afraid to move mountains and carve paths and create magic.

This is about you training a child in the way that he should go.

Are you up to the challenge?

I gave him to you because I know that you are. I entrusted him to you because I know that you are good and strong and capable.”

God answer spoke to me in a way that night that no counselor, no therapist, no parenting book ever could. Nothing. Not one thing has been the same since that night.

I’ve always loved him.

But now, I see him. All of him: who is he, who he isn’t, and most of all, who he is going to be.

I see how God will use him to do big things for His kingdom. I see the plans God has for

Him. I see the tower God is laying brick by brick and fight by fight to build a strong, steady and secure man.

I see how it’s not my job to change him into someone else.

I see how it’s not my job to mold him into something he isn’t.

I see how it isn’t my job to pray him into the person I want him to be.

It’s my job to pray him into the person God wants him to be.

It’s not easy raising strong-willed children, but what a blessing it will be to watch that strong-willed child grow into an uncompromising, unshakeable, determined man. A man with the fire to change the world. A man will the will to shake the earth. A man with the grit to love a big God in a big way.

It will be such a blessing.

But for now, God help the strong-willed children. And God help the women who raise them.

3 COMMENTS

  1. The was so beautiful. First, I wish I read this when my kids were smaller. Second, I wish this was in Spanish so I can share with fellow parishioners at my church that speak Spanish. Our culture does not take lightly to understanding children. It has to be more of mold him and no questions asked. So thank you for this enlightening article.

  2. I raised 2 extremely strong willed children out of 5. I thought that they would kill me. My oldest is a wonderful mother, a nurse and very active in her towns’ health system. My youngest is a wonderful mother and successful legal secretary They are both passionate in their beliefs and strong advocates for what they
    hold true The other three are quieter but no less firm in their beliefs.

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