Dreaming With (Not For) Your Strong-Willed Child

My youngest is a strong, free spirit.

She’s almost “a whole hand” [holiday birthday looming].

I caught a glimpse of her wild “white” hair (as she calls it) under the kitchen table as I fixed dinner the other night. She was cutting a hundred tiny bits of paper and sorting coffee beans into piles. (don’t ask)

“Watcha doing?” I implored, when I really wanted to say  CLEAN UP THAT BIG MESS.

“Making a coffee shop. For Africa,” she replied so matter-of-factly.

I smiled and took a sip of imaginary coffee. It tasted like delicious paper.

Just minutes later, this delightful child was standing at the pantry door, hunting for a snack, a snack I told her she couldn’t have because dinner was soon.

She put her hands on her hips and said, “There’s not a stupendous thing to eat in here!”

That’s her way of saying a bad word (since we don’t allow the word stupid to be used).

In the scope of 2 minutes, my little girl had gone from one extreme to the other. Delightful to Disobedient.

I’m raising a strong-willed child, no doubt, and I’m one of those moms who likes to have my way. This is a dangerous mix. In an effort to get things done the right way (mine, of course), I’m often tempted to engage in a battle with my strong-willed girls.

And when this happens, we both lose. Every time.

If I’m not careful, I find myself squelching some of their dreams, just to get my way. (One time I actually argued with my child about the color of the sky. She wouldn’t back down and it made me furious. I lost more than my cool that day. I lost a perfect opportunity to dream wildly, have fun and use my imagination with her).

A couple of weeks ago, my 4 1/2 year old woke up, insisting that we take the training wheels off her rarely-used bike. My initial thought was NO, and I said so. My hubby, who is much better at all this said, “Why not? She can at least try and she’ll see how hard it is.”

That girl took off riding like a pro and hasn’t stopped since. I think she learned to petal by sheer will. I thought about how my negative reaction might have killed her dream before she even had a chance to try:

I want to share a few simple thoughts that have revolutionized the way I’m raising my strong kids.

Three Keys to Bringing Out the Best in Your Strong-Willed Child (Discover Your Child’s Heart by Dr. Tim Kimmel)

  1. View Them Positively-as hard as it may be to acknowledge, being strong-willed is a gift. A beautiful trait that needs to be refined, but appreciated. They should never feel like having a strong personality is a negative thing.
  2. Draw Clear Boundaries-“Clear moral standards draw boundaries within which a strong-willed child can flourish.” They need consequences, regimentation, traditions, routine, rituals and rest.
  3. Give Them Some Say-most battles can be avoided, if you maintain authority, but also give your child some say…from eating to napping to keeping their room clean, you can work together to accomplish the goal.

[While I was writing this post, I called my hubby in and read these three keys to him {again}. We are constantly reevaluating and working towards raising our strong-willed children well.]

As I helped my little one pick up the tiny bits of paper from under the table, I said,”What do you want to be when you grow up?”

She looked upward, with a hand on her hip, her eyes all dreamy,”A mermaid,” she said matter-of-fact.

“Or a cat.”

I didn’t argue a bit.


Do you have a hard time dreaming with your kids-unleashing their potential, trusting their intuition?

Tell me about your strong-willed child.


This post is part of a series I’m writing from  Family Matters Resources. Family Matters is my sponsor for the Relevant Conference this year! While they are paying for my (and Mercy House) travel expenses, all the opinions in this post are mine.  I have read and used their products and attended their parenting conferences for years (because I want to!) and I highly recommend this organization. The book I mentioned above is a part of their Flag Page, an innovative tool that helps you discover your child’s heart.

41 Reasons

On why I love him:

  1. He pushes me to dream.
  2. He lives on the edge
  3. He is a great employee
  4. He won’t let me manipulate him
  5. He takes care of me
  6. He believes in me
  7. He takes care of himself
  8. He still wants me
  9. He’s cute
  10. He would do anything for me (picture to prove it)
  11. He works hard
  12. He danced in Africa
  13. He takes the trash out
  14. He loads the dishwasher (my least favorite chore)
  15. He tickles the kids
  16. He has integrity
  17. He still has a lot of little boy in him
  18. He fought the battle of his life and won
  19. He helps me
  20. He rubs my aching neck
  21. He holds our kids
  22. He loves God
  23. He is a family man
  24. He is silly
  25. He lives counter-cultural
  26. He has a sexy voice
  27. He makes me laugh
  28. He still kisses me everyday
  29. He makes every kid feel special
  30. He listens to me
  31. He admits when he’s wrong
  32. He runs his hands thru my hair to help me sleep
  33. He loves the outdoors
  34. He takes our kids on dates
  35. He is compassionate
  36. He is an amazing dad
  37. He points our family towards God
  38. He is a “cup half full” kind of guy
  39. He is a father to the fatherless
  40. He is mine
  41. Did I mention he danced in Africa?

Happy 41st birthday to the best man I know!

What do you love about your man?

WFMW: A Splash of Fall (and a Sale)

Orange candles in my Giving Thanks Hurricanes, letters that spell g-r-a-t-i-t-u-d-e

Mantle with a  fall garland (my sister made for me):

My favorite store [DaySpring] is having an awesome sale. Save 20% with Code:PREV20

Get ready for Christmas (I know, I know):

these items are on sale, plus with 20% off–look how cheap!

only $4.39

only $10




















Disclaimer: I’m not getting paid to share this today, I truly love DaySpring. My links are affiliates.

Works for me!

How about you?

For When You Need a Sign {A Special Post}

{Updated with Winners} Congrats to random commenters: #56  Cheryl, #6 Hallie, #43 Beth Shepherd, #41 Rachel, #51 Miranda. Everyone else, buy the book! Proceeds go to Mercy House.
Sometimes I get an email that just stops me in my tracks.
I wanted to share one of them with you, but please understand that this isn’t boasting.
I know this isn’t about me. It’s about Him.

This email reminded me that there are moms out there-in the carline, at the grocery store, on your street-that need Him. And maybe they don’t know how to find Him and they are waiting on us to lead the way….
They are looking for a sign.

Dear Kristen, We do not know one another and have never met, but I just read your book and it was awesome! This is not something I would normally write…but I HAD too. I checked out your book from the local library and knew I had to buy it, even before I knew the proceeds go to Mercy House.

Reading this book was an experience for me. I wasn’t just being entertained. I was connecting with something and having an actual experience. It is difficult to describe. I needed these stories and I loved it!

I have been trying to know God better and I can feel he speaks to me, (not in a literal voice), but I am apparently not a good listener. He is telling me to come find Him, and bring my children. I am lost only because I am not following the signs.

I thought I had just stumbled upon your book but I know now I was led to it. The versus and the prayers really spoke to me and I was compelled to tell you, and genuinely thank you. So, thank you and your family for this wonderful gift you all helped to make and share!

If you know a mom who needs Him or needs a little encouragement, I’d like you to leave her first name in the comment section.

I’m going to randomly draw 5 names and giveaway FIVE copies of my book, Don’t Make Me Come Up There! for winners to pass along to a friend.

Maybe she’s just waiting on a sign.

And your the one that’s supposed to deliver it.

P.S. if you feel like you’re the mom in this email, please feel free to leave your own name!

Walk Humbly. Act. Justly. {Shop} Mercy.

Pin It

Mercy House’s first Fair Trade Show was a huge success:

Our booth:

Our product (with some amazing new items):

[Feel free to PIN IT! If these aren’t pinterest-worthy, I don’t know what is!]

We turned our garage into a shipping center and are so thankful for the weekly volunteers who keep this organization running! Not to mention the behind-the-scenes people (like Karen and Carol with her data-entry talent!)

{Shop} Mercy.

[free shipping on orders of $50 or more. use code:BIGSPENDER]

*photos by my friend, the amazing Suzanne Box Photography


P.S. Maureen is still sick, but on the mend. I wish I could go into details, but in an effort to protect our girl’s privacy, I can only ask you to pray for Sarah. She’s our newest girl and is in the hospital. Please pray for her and her unborn baby.