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. 🙂