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To the mom of the strong-willed child: there is hope!
Recently our oldest son entered high school. Since he is in a new building for high school, the school hosted a preview day. Clayton had no idea where we were supposed to go or what was about to happen. I asked him if he wanted me to go with him and he said yes. My heart was pounding for him as we stepped out.
He took a few silent strides and then he said, “Mom, I’m good. I’ve got this.” and he walked confidently into the building. I stood there for a while and watched him until he disappeared. I had tears in my eyes, not because he was going to high school, but because I knew at that moment that God is, and will continue to be, faithful.
You see, from about 18 months to four years old, Clayton and I went round and round and round…from one strong-willed episode to another:
Brushing his teeth every night for YEARS was a battle YEARS. One night my husband came in to find me on top of Clayton with his head in between my knees as I was brushing his teeth. When Fred asked what I was doing, I threw the toothbrush and said, “Why does everything, EVERYTHING have to be so hard!”
One day we were at the store and I wouldn’t buy whatever it was that he wanted at that moment.
I started to walk away as he flailed about in the aisle. When he saw me walking away, he got up, found an old man, and hit him. He hit him!!
One morning around 2:00 am he came tearing and screaming into our room because the water in his sippy cup was tepid. He wanted cold water. He then threw the sippy cup at my husband. Said sippy cup broke on my husband’s head and tepid water went all over our room. Do you know what it feels like to have someone come in your room at 2:00 am screaming about tepid water?!? I do.
Truly, I could go on and on and on with these stories, but I think you get a general idea.
I am the mom of the strong-willed child. I wish I could tell you that I always handled myself in a Christ-like manner and with grace, but unfortunately I did not. And, I wish I could tell you I never lost my temper or acted out of pride, but unfortunately, I can not tell you that.
What I can tell you is that God used my strong-willed child to reveal the sin in my own life. God used that strong-willed child to mold and shape me, yes me, into who he wants me to be…and I’m grateful for it. Yes, I said gratefully.
Hope for the mom of the strong-willed child
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Want to know how I survived? Here are a few things to consider…
-Learn to say you’re sorry and ask for forgiveness.
Saying sorry to a child when you are wrong teaches so many lessons. One of the main lessons is that we are all works in progress and no one, not even parents, are perfect. We all stand in need of grace and forgiveness. Don’t lose out on this teachable moment.
-Evaluate your motives.
Why are you wanting this behavior to be modified? Is it your own pride or embarrassment of what others will think of your parenting? Sometimes these motives can add stress to already stressful situations.
-Realize that this parenting gig is never over.
For a long time, I put a lot of pressure on myself to “get everything right” before our boys turned 18. I don’t know why I felt this pressure, but I’ve come to see that parenting never ends. Don’t believe me? Find a friend who has a child in college. Or ask my friends that are 85 and are caring for their 60-year-old daughter in her final days of cancer. It never ends on this side of eternity.
-Get to the foundation of the action.
Calmly and rationally (not in the moment) help your child think through what is at the root of his or her behavior. The best book that I’ve read on this is Tedd Tripp’s book, Shepherding a Child’s Heart. I would highly recommend this book.
-Surround yourself with positive and honest people.
You need people ahead of you, behind you, and besides you. These people will be your people. They need to be people who will smile and say the hard things when called upon.
-Remember that God is faithful.
He really is. Lean into Paul’s words to the church at Phillipi in Philippians 1:6, “And I am sure of this, that He who began a good work in you will be faithful to bring it to completion at the day of Christ Jesus.”
This parenting journey is nowhere near done for us, but I have seen God’s faithfulness time and time again.
Our hope is found in Jesus Christ alone, not in our child overcoming this strong-willed personality. You see, God gave this child the strong will. Our job as mom of the strong-willed child to help guide and direct them.
Mama if you are struggling today, can I just encourage you?
Lean into God. Trust Him with the results. He is writing a story in your child’s life, and with God’s help, that strong-willed two years old will turn into a young man entering high school who is confident, independent, and a testimony to God’s faithfulness.
Hey! Ruthie here! Throughout the coming months, I’ll be sharing some of my space here with a few of my very favorite bloggers while I ready for my daughter’s fall wedding! But don’t worry – I’ll sprinkle in my own posts here and there ;)! Today’s guest post was written by Jennifer from Chaos To Peace! She is a mom of 3 preteen BOYS – in other words, girlfriend is TOUGH!! She and I share a similar sense of humor and I love how real she is.
Jennifer and her family live in the South. She and her husband, Fred, have three boys ages 14, 11, and 8, and one unruly dog named Dash. Chaos2Peace is a blog designed to bring peace in the midst of chaos by providing organizational tips, menu planning, simple recipes, and a whole lot of laughter. Join us on the blog today as we do life together, one step at a time.
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Fred Shackelford III says
I remember those years. I now look at that young man with pride knowing what God can do when people are seeking His will. I love how you demonstrate how God transformed that stubbornness and defiance he had then into the confidence and self assurance so evident now.
Melinda Mitchell says
Jennifer, I SO needed this today! I’m the grandma, but majority care giver. Just this morning, I get so upset, about her stubbornness. I had to apologize on the way to school. She did too, we both hugged and said we love each other.
I will grab harder onto Jesus!
Beulah Shackelford Williams. says
I loved your post Jennifer you
You are a very special mom.