“If people let government decide what foods they eat and what medicines they take, their bodies will soon be in as sorry a state as are the souls of those who live under tyranny.” Thomas Jefferson
Wednesday, October 3, 2012
Raising up the Strong Willed Child
My oldest is growing up. She is 14 years old now. My where has the time gone. It seems like just yesterday that we were bringing her home from the hospital. Each stage of her young life has brought a new stage of parenting and a unique set of challenges. I remember when she was little that I didn't think that I would survive even just those young years. My daughter has always been strong willed (that is putting it nicely). I like Dr. James Dobson's description of the strong willed child on the back of his book, "The New Strong Willed Child". He says: "They come into the world smoking a cigar and yelling about the temperature in the delivery room. As toddlers, their greatest delights include painting the carpet with Mom's makeup and trying to flush the family cat down the toilet. As older children and teenagers, they are irritable, defiant, and seemingly bent on challenging all forms of authority...." At the time that I bought that book, it seemed like he knew Petunia personally. I still have the throw pillow and area rug that she decided to paint with fingernail polish. I still have the table that she decorated with the black sharpie marker and no one will forget her artwork on the floor of her Kindergarten classroom that I made her scrub up in front of the whole class. A strong willed child....absolutely. It seemed like she came into this world saying "Make my day". There was a lot of hair pulling in those early days and I am sure there are a few gray hairs that she has put there as she has gotten older. We have had some challenges and I expect that we will have more as she continues to grow and mature. A strong willed child cannot be controlled and dominated. They cannot be forced to think or believe or behave in a certain manner. Trying to do so will only make them dig their heels in harder and believe me they can dig in their heels. Strong willed children are shaped in much the same way that the potter shapes the clay on the wheel. It is a delicate touch and manipulation of the clay that forms the piece of art, while a heavy hand will only make it collapse into a pile of nothing. The thing that I have found and that my parents found (Yes, she is a mini me)is that sometimes as the strong willed child grows the parent must let them fall while they are still under the protection and guidance of the parents. Since strong willed children challenge everything they are prone to getting themselves in not so good situations. These are places where the parent can guide, pick up the pieces, and teach life lessons. Boy, have we done some picking up the pieces and teaching life lessons in this house. While I could go on and on about the challenges of raising one of these little anarchists, what I really want to say is this...they are amazing to watch grow and bloom into adulthood. It seems, like the phoenix, that they must crash and burn at least once in order to rise. I crashed and burned, Petunia has had some crashing and burning and now she is blossoming into a wonderful young woman. She has a strong mind of what she wants out of life and the kind of life that she wants to lead. She has determination and drive that truly I never thought that I would see when she was younger. She has developed and is developing self discipline and her ability to think for herself and not let everyone else think for her will serve her well in life. Don't give up hope on us strong willed children. We are the movers and shakers, the ones who take life head on as a challenge. We are the ones who step outside the box and question the norm. We are the ones that do hard things. I would almost bet you that our founding fathers were strong willed children and that their parents gained lots of gray hairs at their expense. We don't always do the best thing and we tend to make a lot of mistakes on that road of life, but once we have learned from those mistakes then our convictions are solid. We do not waver from what we feel is right. We are black and white people trying to live in a gray world and while establishing those black/white paradigms we sometimes fall off a cliff. The thing is that we eagerly climb right back up and start again. I know...I have fallen off many cliffs in my 41 years. I am proud of Petunia and the young woman that she is growing into. I will gladly accept those gray hairs and sleepless nights that have come and will surely come again as she has many challenges left ahead of her. I pray every night that God will give me the wisdom to guide her and teach her so that she will be able to handle her own need to be strong willed. There will come a day that I will have to let her go out into the world and I pray that I have given her the guidance and faith in Jesus Christ to stand against the onslaught of that world. The one consolation I have is that she is strong willed and doesn't always just go along with the flow. I know....a double edged sword. I can't always be there to protect her....but Jesus Christ can. But for right now, we are still molding and shaping with a delicate hand. It is a challenge and a blessing as well. Blessings and prayers for all who raise strong willed children, Kat PS..If you haven't read it and are dealing with a strong willed child I highly recommend The New Strong Willed Child by Dr. James Dobson. If nothing else you won't feel so alone in your challenges! It was a book that brought laughter and understanding during a time when I felt like I had nothing but confusion and tears. Blessings.