5 Things I’m Learning in This Dance With My Strong-Willed Daughters

I see the anger before I feel it. Her fists clench at her side and her dark eyes flash.

I brace myself because I know what’s coming.

Some times it happens when I say the word no or when I say you can’t.

Her passion erupts and she fights hard for what she wants.

She’s not the only one.

I take deep breaths and try to remain calm, controlled.

But she pushes. And I push back.

Words and attitude can be daggers to a heart.

Hers and mine.

I take the bait.

We battle.

I have two daughters, both strong-willed. Both like me.


Wavy hair. Olive skin. Dark brown eyes. Same nose. We even share identical birthmarks.

But our similarities run much deeper. We are short-tempered. Passionate. We want life to be fair and just. We are fighters. We want our way. We long for control.

And in those strong-willed moments–when daughters demand their way–their strength amplifies my weakness.

Some days we laugh and push through the tough moments. Other days are filled with harsh words and regret.

And I know as I certain as I stand in my kitchen arguing with one of my strong-willed daughters, there will be no winners.

In moments like these when we fight for what we want, we both lose.

When we put our will above all else. we leave a wake of casualties.

Battle-weary, we find a place of peace and talk through the damage of our words. We say our “I’m sorry’s” and we end up stronger in our weakness. I am not her captain or her companion, I am her cavalier, her company and we are on the same side. We are not enemies. It is not my way or hers.

I’m not a teacher on this strong-willed dance floor. I’m a student. Here’s what I’m learning:

  1. Not everything is a battle–but it can be if we make it one. If we are in constant battle about the same things–messy rooms, laundry and attitude, we might win a few, but it might cost us a relationship. Leave the small things, small. That’s not to say we let them have their way all the time, instead we focus on what really matters.
  2. Not everything is personal–but it can be if we take offense. That eye roll or audible sigh–it’s normal. That doesn’t make it right or less frustrating. But most words flung are coming from a hurt or misunderstood place. If we choose to be offended by every word or action, we are choosing something much bigger. Look past the words and get to the heart of the hurt.
  3. Not everything can be won–and if we try to win it all, we will ultimately lose. We are raising, unique, one-of-a-kind girls who will surprise and satisfy us. We have to step back and let them learn and grow and mess up. Most of all, we have to help them find the beauty in every place, especially the hard ones.
  4. Not everything is eternal–but everything is significant. Things in her world might seem small to us. And they probably are–that zit, that boy, that mean girl, that first B on her report card. But if we make what’s important to her insignificant to us, we wound.
  5. Not everything is understood and that’s why listening is the best gift. We may not always understand the drama, the emotion, the passion over the trivial. And that’s okay. We can offer them what they really want and need–it’s not a fix to their problem, it’s a listening ear. Some times the best thing we can do is close our mouth and let them talk.

I’m raising strong-willed daughters. And I’m discovering their passion and determination are the very things that carry them through their toughest times. I’m watching them deflect the world, stand against cultural norms and leave a mark on those they impact. They shine.

And more than ever, I need to remember what the fight is really about.


  1. 2

    Karen says

    This is so wise…. “I’m not a teacher on this strong-willed dance floor. I’m a student.”

    Excellent post! I learned many of these lessons the hard way and look back wishing for some do-overs! THANKFUL for God’s grace!!!!

  2. 3


    As a strong-willed mama of two little girls, I know these days are ahead of us. Thank you for your wisdom. When I was teenager I remember just aching for my mom to hear me. To try to just understand what I was thinking or feeling. Anyway, this gives me hope for the days ahead with my beautifully strong girls. I wouldn’t want them to be any different than who they are.

  3. 4


    The dance floor with my Strong-willed daughter has been a learning field for both of us. Battles chosen carefully, silent moments when I prayed and she said, “You have no effect in your expression!”
    Now I am thankful all three of my daughters are on their own and I pray daily as they force their way through a lost and dying world. The are strong-willed for their faith and that makes me a proud Mommie.
    (Also I have a son who was raised with 3 big sisters or as he put it 4 Moms.)

    Thank you for sharing.

  4. 6

    Tricia says

    Thanks for sharing. Doesn’t just apply to daughters. I see some of the things with my son. Thanks for pointing out. Good reminder.

  5. 7


    I’m not a strong-willed Mom, and I don’t have a strong-willed daughter. I AM a Mom, and I HAVE a daughter (and 3 sons), and yet I can relate to everything on your list. I think it’s a natural part of parenting, this collision of wills, altho I’m sure it’s harder with some personalities than others. Getting to know each child…what makes them tick, what they dream, how they learn…is so beneficial when it comes to being able to teach, guide and discipline without crushing their spirits. I messed up many times with our kids. So thankful for God’s grace. Thank you for sharing. Your points are spot-on.

  6. 8

    Robyn says

    Having been through this with my 27 yr old daughter and still catching a wave of it now and then from my 16 yr old, I too had to learn NOT to sweat the small stuff and to be careful which battles to fight and the ones that you need to just walk away from. Your post hit the nail on all the points that need to be made to young moms!! I pray they listen!!

  7. 9

    Lauren says

    I have the privilege of being the stepmama of a strong-willed girl. It’s been a sometimes-rough 2 years, but we’re figuring it out together. While some days are filled with lots of tears on both of our parts and most days (thank you, Jesus) are spent in hysterical giggles (because when the attitudes go away, we can goof off and laugh like we should be able to). It’s a crazy ride, but so worth it!

  8. 10

    annep says

    Thank you for these reminders…i needed this as a teenage girl is much different than her brothers! blessed by both!

  9. 11

    Jessie says

    I love these suggestions but have a strong willed 3 (soon to be 4) year old. I am so exhausted every.single.day just fighting with her over every. single. thing.

  10. 12

    Natalie says

    I could’ve written the first few lines of this myself. It’s eerily familiar. Thank you for the tips and for reminding me I’m not alone. Raising a strong willed daughter isn’t for the faint of heart, but it’s worth every minute.

  11. 13


    Oh, I am so there! I have three strong-willed children…two girls and a boy. I needed this encouragement today. I too am a student and it is SO good to know I am not alone! Thank you! I am sharing this on my blog today, as I know there are many out there who need to read it!

  12. 14

    Deanne Sandbulte says

    Thanks for the great reminders! And encouragement that more parents are going through what I am going through with my son (11) and daughter (4). I have been praying about my sons and I’s relationship ever since I read an article that satan can use the relationships of strong will children to drive a wedge between you. I felt starting to happen and have been praying ever since. God brought your post into my life, I know it!

  13. 15


    thanks for writing this! my 2 girls are 18 months and 6 weeks old. i’m strong-willed. seeing it already in my first. the stage you’re in feels a long ways a way… we’re in the ‘surviving’ stage of 2 under 2. but i know it’ll go fast. and then we’ll be standing the kitchen talking about something more significant than buttons, fans, lights, trucks, and baby dolls. so, thanks for the tips! :)

  14. 16


    Crying over here …. going through SO much with our almost 13 yr old girl lately, it’s been such a difficult time in my life and I cry, worry and pray so much lately. The pull of the world is SO strong to our teens and we have so many battles of the will lately. Thank you for always being an encouragement to my heart – please keep writing more posts about this stuff cause it’s exactly what I need to hear! Also, I’m not sure if you’ve ever covered this type of post before, but would love to hear how you handle rules of dating or waiting or just the general boy/girl stuff that starts earlier than ever with this generation of kids?
    Thank you again, Kathy

  15. 17

    Lexi says

    I am a strong willed daughter, and I loved reading this. My mom and I really enjoy your blog, she will text me links to them all the time. :)

  16. 18

    Michelle says

    Thank you so much for this article!I am in my own dance/battle right now! I love these girls to death, but everything is a fight. We are all praying for less anger and more peace!

  17. 19


    Thank you for sharing this. My daughter isn’t even two and I am already forseeing the future. It’s always a choice to battle or not when dealing with a strong-willed person, but it goes to a whole new level when it’s a mother and daughter!

  18. 20

    Jessica says

    Like a few other commenters, I can already see this trait emerging in my toddler. My husband is already bracing for the storms ahead! Thanks for the encouragement and tips to keep in mind. Easier than saving up to send her to boarding school as a teenager! ha. :)

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