How To Pray for Your Strong-Willed Children

My 7 year old barged into the bathroom while I was  soaking in the tub.

My head snapped up from my book.

She walked over to the edge of the tub and stuck both hands in my warm water.

And wildly splashed.

There went my relaxation. And my privacy (thanks, broken bathroom door lock). And my temper.

“Please don’t touch the water again,” I whispered through gritted teeth.

She stared at me and let her fingers hover over the water, so close to touching, but not quite. So, obeying. But just barely.

This is a strong-willed battleground and I know it well.

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In the last 14 years, between my two strong-willed girls, there have been meltdowns and tantrums and wild words and power struggles. There have been moments of anger and tempers and tears and regret from all of us. We have hurled angry words at each other over little things that don’t matter, the color of clothes, the length of shorts, the scary stuff under beds.

We have found our way, only to falter and find it again as we navigate this life together.

Much of parenting is two steps forward, one step back.

My daughters are loyal. They are determined leaders. They stand for justice. They work hard and are fiercely protective of those they love. They can’t be bullied or manipulated. They are rule followers, but also risk-takers.  They are respected by their peers. They know what they want and nothing can deter them. They are passionate lovers and fighters. And they never stop talking.

They walk into a room and light it up.

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Their iron clad wills have rocked my world. And even in the hardest moments when I fail them or they fail me, I wouldn’t change who they are for a minute.

Because their fierceness will change the world.

And so I pray this over them, under them, before them and after them:

God,

You gave me strong girls.  They are a gift. You and I both know, this is a hard calling.

Please help me not to crush their determined spirits with all my rules and regulations.

You created them to color outside the lines, give me the courage to let them.

Channel their determination into purpose. Turn their stubbornness into pliable willingness to say yes to you.  Teach them to yield their steadfast spirit and help me to let go of what doesn’t matter.

I need help mothering:  Show me how to look past the attitude and see a pure heart. Lead me to look for the good and appreciate the crazy. Instead of controlling them, teach me to empower them. And instead of drawing a line in the sand and demanding my way, remind me that these girls are a whole lot like me.

Oh, and see what you did there.

Most of all, teach all of us how to follow you.

Amen.

 

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Comments

  1. 1

    Robyn says

    This one brought me to tears! You so get not only being a parent of a strong willed child but also the angle of being a strong willed person yourself! I printed out the prayer as a reminder/guideline for me to use in my own prayer life.

  2. 2

    says

    Oh, I have said this prayer many times for my strong willed boy! Now he is graduating this spring and it is truly by God’s grace that he is a wonderful young man. Really – that he turned out so well despite his Type A mother is a testament to God’s wisdom and grace. :-)

  3. 3

    says

    I am constantly praying Stormie O’Martian’s Power of a Praying Parent over my kids, especially my strong-willed one. I’ll add this to my arsenal!

  4. 4

    Catalina Booth says

    I needed this at just this moment. I had my first parent teacher conference over my 5 year olds “sasiness.” So I needed to read this. Thank you for sharing!!!

  5. 5

    says

    Beautiful – such a needed prayer. Oooh – looking past the attitude – tough one, but I can’t take everything personally. You expressed what I’d like to do with my kids – embrace their determination, courage and silliness and empower, rather than hinder them. It’s those things I know will serve them well in many areas of their lives. I also need to remember they are a lot, sometimes too much, like me. Thanks, Kristen!

  6. 6

    MJ says

    Thank you!!
    I was just telling a friend yesterday how hard it is some days. I don’t want to crush her strong spirit, but sometimes she HAS to obey. Having a very obedient older girl makes it hard too, I constantly have to remind myself that they’re unique and not to compare the younger one to her older sister.
    This parenting thing isn’t for sissy’s

    • 6.1

      sharilynn says

      MJ,
      I too had that same experience yesterday with our 9 year old, My dear friend that I called liked this fb page and I read the prayer and thought , WoW I need this today GOD is right on time :] I hope you are having a better day today! perhaps something was in the air yesterday !
      Thank you for your post,

  7. 7

    says

    I wish I had seen this years ago! You wrote beautifully expressing the balance between treasuring our strong-willed children and knowing that they do need to learn to channel that will for the right things.

  8. 8

    Lauren says

    I have two strong willed girls (8 and almost 5) and I have failed them more times than they have failed me. I struggle with praying for the “right” way to parent them because I am the polar opposite of them. In short, THANK YOU for this example of a prayer. It’s hard and painful sometimes (especially when the other 3 kiddos suffer because of it, too), but in those rare moments where the attitudes are gone and their loving nature comes back, it is all SO worth it. Again, thank you for this! It is exactly what I needed to read this morning.

  9. 10

    emily says

    I have a strong-willed 4 year old. We thought surely our second would be a little…less so. :) It appears that is not to be. And while we wait and see how they continue to grow i must admit, i look forward to their impact on this world…prayerfully for the cause of Christ!

  10. 11

    says

    I could have written this myself! Know you’re not alone on this particular journey. Some children just stand out in a room full of others……..mine (and apparently yours as well) are those children!
    Like you, I think it will serve them well throughout their lives……but good golly, in the meantime and dealing with a school environment it can definitely be a challenge at times.
    Just the sheer drama of it all! Thanks for the prayer, it’s needed for many of us!

  11. 12

    Robyn Chilcoat says

    Wow! Did this post hit close to home, and make me a little teary eyed! Thank you for sharing your prayer. It’s one that I need to say and one I needed to hear.

  12. 13

    Dara H says

    Thank you for this…I have one strong-willed girl…my other girl is very tender – a different prayer for her – but thank you…each day can be a challenge and rewarding at the same time!

  13. 14

    Jenny says

    Thank you for this post. It seems God has seen fit to give me 2 girls much like your own! I’m not usually big on written prayers but what you have written fits me to a “T”. I printed it out as a bookmark for my Bible so I remember it. Thanks so much.

  14. 16

    Michelle Vaughn says

    Thank you thank you! I really needed this today!!! I have 2 girls, 5 and 7. The 7 year old And I have struggles almost daily! This really helps me!!!!!!!

  15. 17

    says

    Thank you. *I* am the strong-willed girl. And I have trouble seeing my personality in a positive light. Everything about my design seems so diametrically opposed to all that is described of womanhood in the Bible: “gentle and quiet,” “not permitted to speak,” “submissive”… I truly struggle to know what the heck it means to be a godly woman AND BE ME.

    But your description of your girls is beautiful. And it’s accurate for me, as well. (Well, I don’t know about my “lighting up a room,” but until you get to that part…) So never mind the part about what to pray for my children. I’m printing out this description so I can remind myself of it…and hopefully bless my children by giving them a mama who’s a little less broken.

  16. 18

    Lisa says

    Thank you for this! So many people equate “strong-willed” with “badly-behaved” or “trouble,” and it’s SUCH a relief to be reminded that this is not the case! I have 3 girls who are 6, 4, and 1, and all three of them are very strong little ladies. I will be printing that prayer and sticking it up all over my house! =)

  17. 19

    says

    thank you so much for sharing this today! it was EXACTLY what i needed! i’ve been struggling with my strong-willed child and wasn’t even sure what to pray for him. i hope you dont mind, but i shared your prayer on my blog…to hopefully help other mama’s with their own strong-willed children! feel free to read it at http://sarahkhurst.blogspot.com. you have been such an inspiration to me with how you live as a wife, mother and how you serve on the mission field!!

  18. 20

    Rachel M. Dow says

    Thank you for this post! It has given me much needed hope with my own strong-willed girl! Thank you for the prayer.. I’ll be praying it over my girl each and every day!

  19. 21

    Laura says

    O boy…..we have a strong willed daughter too. It can be very hard to appreciate even her strengths at times. I often find myself saying – in the future this trait (eg. Persistence) will be beneficial….it is sometimes very hard to see how it all is a positive thing now. You captured it perfectly in your prayer – thank you:)

  20. 22

    says

    Thank you for the reminder that my daughter and everything about her is a blessing. Nearly brought me to tears reading how you speak to your Father in Heaven about your daughters — such respect and love. Best of luck to all of us!

  21. 24

    LeAnn says

    Thank you so much for posting this. I so needed it. My 5yr old son sounds like you girls. I love him so much – but some days he def pushes my buttons.

  22. 25

    Stephanie says

    I needed this today. I have so many rules and regulations and a dear child who decides she’ll overlook them when she wants to. Makes me crazy! I know right now it’s over dumb stuff like saying she can’t paint her nails tonight and she does it anyway. I get so angry at the disobedience. Not because I care about nail polish, but because deep down I am afraid that she won’t walk the line when it REALLY matters. I prayed this prayer just last night – help me to let go of what doesn’t matter and help her to know what really does. In these end times God is sending His strongest spirits to this Earth. Each generation will be more strong willed than the last because the battle ahead for the souls of men is a fierce one. and We have the privilege of raising Godly warriors in a fallen world. It is HARD work. Glad to know we’re in it together!

  23. 26

    Joanne Peterson says

    Wow, it has been a very hard two weeks, with my 3 and 4 year old. I needed this prayer today, like it was sent just to me. My 24 year old was very strong-willed, and my 19 year old is more compliant. I do have to look over this and hear what is important and what is not, and still appreciate who they are and help mold the strong-will toward perseverance for Christ like you said. I so badly needed this shot in the arm.

  24. 27

    Heidi says

    Check out Carol Tuttle’s website, thechildwhisperer.com. Get her book, The Child Whisperer. There’s a good chance your girls are type 3′s or 4′s. Her techniques have greatly changed my ability to work with my own two strong-willed children.

  25. 28

    Sheila says

    Kristen,

    Thank you so much for sharing. I was brought to tears by reading your prayer and I will be using it for my son! Your post today was such a blessing to my heart and that prayer is exactly what my heart and mind needed to hear!

  26. 29

    says

    This post was forwarded to me by a friend and it almost brought me to tears. I too have 2 strong willed girls. They are only 4 and 2 but I lay awake at night having anxiety over the pre-teen and teen years as their toddler years have been such a challenge. I didn’t think it was possible to have two, but my second one is almost stronger willed than my first. It is so hard when they are so opposite of my personality. People who don’t have strong-willed children seriously don’t understand what a challenge it is!

  27. 30

    says

    I had tears in my eyes reading this. My son is a match to your daughters, and while there have been some long days (weeks, months…ha!), I absolutely love the way God has made him for all the reason that you listed and more.

    I. Get. This. =)

    xoxo

  28. 32

    says

    I loved this post! I have one of these little darlings as well. Never a boring moment with her. I am realzing God is going to use her vigor And empower her to do great things through Him. She lights up a room, people LOVE her and she has great insight into the heart of God.

  29. 34

    Sheri says

    Thank you, I needed this! God gave me two girls just as strong-willed as their Momma;) I’m printing out your prayer, thanks for sharing!

  30. 36

    says

    Thank you for sharing. I have a strong-willed 4-year-old son. He’s amazing but exhausting and tries my patience daily. He’s a lot like me; we’re both strong-willed so we get frustrated with each other easily. But like your daughters, he’s charismatic and determined and I believe he will be an amazing teenager / young-adult / adult someday. I thank my Heavenly Father daily for sending him to me, right alongside those constant prayers for patience. Hang in there!

  31. 37

    Tara says

    Oh my goodness! The way she had her hand JUST above the water but not touching is SO exactly what my first and third daughters would do. Thank you for this prayer! They’re a handful. Every. Single. Day.

  32. 38

    Sadie says

    I was the strong-willed child in my family, and I have spent my life feeling like I was a curse on them. As an adult, I know that nine times out of ten, my stubbornness was just a wish to be seen and understood. My parents were so terrified of “feeding” my opposition that they could never acknowledge what was behind it. The times when they did, I had no problem getting on with whatever it was they wanted from me.

    From Adele Faber & Elaine Mazlish, I learned many tactics for approaching opposition, but the basis is: acknowledge the feelings, and then WAIT and see what the child has to say. “I see that you really don’t want to do the dishes tonight. It sucks having to do stuff you don’t like. I don’t like doing the dishes myself!” So often that is all that’s needed to diffuse opposition, and it helps “coach” the child through conflicting feelings and realize that yes, sometimes we have to do stuff we don’t like in life, without making them feel like a failure for not understanding it already.

  33. 40

    Yvonne says

    I should be sleeping… this is the 3rd post ive read in a row… from parenting toddlers to this…your words have struck me hard …. my girls, 6, 3 and 18 mo are a bunch of strong willed crazies and this prayer is an amazing blessing to me…thank you forever

  34. 42

    says

    Kristen, I just read your blog, here on “How to Pray for your Strong willed Children” God has definitely led me to your site and to this particular article. I have been struggling with how to deal with and encourage my very strong-willed 10- yr old daughter toward good behavior. I’ve read several books, and prayed about it and cried over it. My hubby even gets very frustrated.

    More than anything I’ve read so far, your post has filled me with hope! I know God has a purpose for every one of his children, but sometimes us parents of s/w children need the right perspective to jerk us out of the mundane of dealing w/ everyday bad behaviors. I am more encourages and know that I (and hubby) partner with the Lord, He can use our daughter’s heart mightily now and later as a an adult! Thank you for sharing your experience!

  35. 43

    says

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