Here’s hopin’ he’s not thinking about misbehaving…

043010 Hmm

We’ve been having…how shall I say it…”quite a time” with Anja these days. To say she is strong-willed is an understatement. I’ve been reading “The New Strong-Willed Child” by Dobson, and it actually helps me out to know there are other parents who have dealt with similar children. I find myself nodding my head and sometimes laughing/crying in agreement. For instance:

“I’ll close this introductory chapter by offering two more observations for parents who are raising strong-willed children.  First, it is very common for these moms and dads to feel great guilt and self-condemnation.  They are trying so hard to be good parents, but the struggle for control that goes on at home day after day leaves them frustrated and fatigued.  No one told them that parenthood would be this difficult, and they blame themselves for the tension that arises.  They had planned to be such loving and effective parents, reading fairy tales by the fireplace to their pajama-clad angels, who would then toddle happily off to bed.  The difference between life as it is and life as it ought to be is distressing.

Second, I have found that the parents of compliant children don’t understand their friends with defiant youngsters.  They intensify guilt and embarrassment by implying, “If you would raise your kids the way I do mine, you wouldn’t be having those awful problems.”  May I say to both gruops that willful children can be difficult to manage even when parents handle their responsibilities with great skill and dedication.  It may take several years to bring such a youngster to a point of relative obedience and cooperation within the family unit, and indeed a strong-willed child will be a strong-willed individual all her life.  While she can and must be taught to respect authority and live harmoniously with her neighbors, she will always have an assertive temperament.

And here is the experience of a mother that hit home (as in, “Yep, that’s just like my daughter!”):

At eighteen months, you could tell her no and she would fall on the floor, throw a fit, and roll around.  We would sit and watch her for a while because we weren’t going to give in.  We were going to be strong.  She would stand up, and she would have that beautiful angelic face, and she would say, “I’m sorry.”  She would come over and lay her head in my lap, and then she would bite me.

The parents of this daughter would go in and pray over their daughter every night after she was asleep, that the Holy Spirit would conquer her strong will without destroying her spirit.  I think that is wise.  I don’t want Anja to lose her determination and become a doormat.  We just need her to learn that she is under authority and needs to respect that authority.  But it is often difficult to not become angry with her.

It makes me think, often, of how patient God is with me when I buck against His ways, kicking and screaming because I KNOW BETTER.  Thankfully I’m not God, because if I were Him and I saw me acting that way, I’d just wanna take my thumb and…squish.  But He is slow to anger, abounding in steadfast love.  He loves me.  He doesn’t let me get away with stuff, though.  He still disciplines me because He loves me.  I tell Anja that all the time, that I discipline her because I love her and because I want to see her succeed.  Maybe some day that will sink in, but for now, we continue the daily battles.

Prayers are always appreciated. 🙂

11 thoughts on “Here’s hopin’ he’s not thinking about misbehaving…

  1. Wow, I am ever on the same page as you. After three daughters who were oh so compliant, Lily is totally throwing me for a loop. Maybe I should read that book. But I think a lot of her problem is consistancy. It was easier to be consistant with the first three kids, because I wasn’t homeschooling yet and there were only three of them. Now that there are 5, with 6 on the way and homeschooling two and three kids, sometimes I discipline, sometimes I say I’ll discipline later. But still, she is the strongest-willed child we have. She might drive me crazy. And the guilt thing…oh yeah, I know about that!

  2. That is an adorable picture of Markus!
    That book sounds really good and I can totally relate. I think I need to read that one. His observations are right on. You sit there wondering why is MY child like this.

  3. That book is the only reason I survived….and continue to survive. My strong willed first born is now 20 years old and is a total joy!!! Her 11 year old sister….we’re still working on! And there are three others with varying degrees of bull-headedness. Just keep reminding yourself that a kid with personality is a whole lot better than a boring kid! Just keep praying that they end up sold out for God!

  4. I hear ya sista! My youngest is strong-willed and such a cutie I want to just laugh and squeeze her and NOT discipline her…but alas, than she will look like the children of THIS generation, spoiled and entitled!

    Hang in there. He is so cuuuute! When I first saw that pic, my response was ooooohhhhhh, adorable!

  5. Ah, Markus. He’s so sweet.

    My oldest is strong-willed. We read the original book years and years ago to try to get a handle on how to raise her. I think it’s critically important to preserve the wonderful qualities of being strong-willed. Natural leadership abilities, strength, confidence, etc. are no small things—especially for a girl in our society.

  6. Oh Heidi,
    Knowing you and how dedicated and sacrificial you are in life (and don’t say to yourself you’re not) I know you are a great parent and that Anja is going to grow up and be a special person.

    (This is coming from a strong willed child who knows her stuff)

  7. Markus is adorable- I love that picture of him! Norah is so far a mild-mannered baby but I’m going to keep that book in mind for when she’s older…just based on the fact that both her parents are strong-willed! 🙂

  8. Ditto, ditto, and ditto some more. My first two were compliant (thought I thought my first was strong-willed before I knew any better!), but my third – hoo-boy! This child pushes every boundary and defies every attempt at training that worked with his brothers. Just know that every time Anja does something that makes you cringe, cry, pull our your hair, laugh because you don’t know what else to do…there are lots of us out there in the same boat!

  9. That is a GREAT photo of Marcus! Such a funny expression.

    I’m one of those guilt-ridden parents. Some days it seems like ‘enough’ that I can get through two hours without yelling. *sigh*

  10. My oldest is 8 and the very same way. It wasn’t so bad until she was about 2…right around the time I had the twins (and lives became even crazier and more turned upside-down than before due to very serious, sometimes critical, medical issues with one of the babies).

    Now we struggle all the time with defiance, mouthiness, stubbornness, tantrums, and anxiety. Oh, the anxiety! I love the story of the parents who prayed over their sleeping child. My husband and I may have to try that. And, I will definitely get this book. I have struggled with guilt and inadequacy for so very long. Days are long, frustrating, and exhausting. And, I feel terrible that the twins have to see their sister acting like this. Yet, they still have such a sweet temperament that I know I can’t be doing everything wrong, even though it feels that way much of the time. Thank you for sharing!

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