Strong Willed Child Despair?
Sitting at the breakfast table with my Bible and Prayers of My Heart journal open, I prayed for patience; knowing that my two year old daughter, Lauren, would wake at any moment. She was going through a “stage.” At least I hoped it was a stage. I’d almost finished reading James Dobson’s book, The Strong Willed Child, and although he didn’t say it like this, I got the strong impression that if I didn’t get control of my child, she would likely become an out-of-control teen.
It wasn’t Dobson, though, who changed my perspective toward Lauren. It was God. As I prayed that morning, I confessed to Him that I loved Lauren but didn’t particularly like her. I’m not sure what I thought He was going to do about it since she was already delivered, but at least I got it off my chest.
God immediately spoke to my heart. It was one of those moments that’s clear as a bell. You know it’s God because it’s not the way you think. “Debbie, I made Lauren the way she is. If you raise her to know Me, she’ll never do anything she doesn’t want to do. She won’t get pregnant out of wedlock. She won’t use drugs. She’ll be a strong witness for Me.”
In those moments of communion with God, He said a whole lot to my heart and my head.
First, He comforted me: Lauren’s temperament wasn’t a mistake. He divinely created her like that.
Then He encouraged me: It was for Lauren’s good and even the good of others that she had a strong will. God had a plan to use Lauren for His kingdom.
God changed my visual of an out-of-control teenage daughter slamming doors by showing me what He saw: a strong, committed teenager, a witness for Christ.
That change in perspective changed my parenting. I couldn’t wait to tackle the challenge of forming my daughter’s mind to know and love God. It gave meaning and purpose to Lauren’s strong will. God’s reassurance increased my love for her.
After God parented me, one of His strong-willed children, who had been fighting Lauren’s personality, I began to purposefully help Lauren see the value of obedience.
In the mornings and afternoons, when she was ready to look at books, we’d sit together on the couch and I’d read Bible stories to her. “Noah obeyed God and built an ark. God was able to save Noah because he obeyed.” “Moses obeyed God and went up the mountain. Moses got to write the Ten Commandments because he obeyed God.” “God told Jonah to go to Ninevah and tell the people about God’s love. Jonah didn’t obey God. He disobeyed. A whale swallowed Jonah.”
Pause. Let that sink in.
Strong-willed children are smart. Teach them the value of obedience. “God likes it when you obey Mommy” became a line of reinforcement, as did, “When you obey, it makes Mommy happy”—followed by big smiles and hugs.
Mom, if you’ve been at your wit’s end with your strong-willed child, I get it. So does God. Go to Him. Talk to Him. Be honest and open your heart to how He leads you to parent your child.
What became of my strong-willed two year old? She is a beautiful Christian mom with two strong-willed boys.
God was right. She was a witness for Christ through her teen years, and she and her husband are raising their boys to know and follow Christ.
The Lord is near to all who call on Him, to all who call on Him in truth,
Excerpt from “The Plan A Mom in a Plan B World: How to Raise Faithful Kids in a Flawed World.” Published by Leafwood Publishers. Copyright by Debbie Taylor Williams. Used with permission.