For The Momma of the Strong-Willed Child

She made a beeline for me at the girls night out.

“You said your daughters are strong-willed, right?” she got right to the point.

We found a corner of the room and I waited. She had a lot to say about her precious and precocious two year old, her first daughter.

“She screams no! She throws herself onto the floor when she doesn’t get her way. I can’t go anywhere with her. My sons never once acted like this and I don’t know what to do.”

I listened and smiled and nodded my head because I understood. Sometimes the best way to encourage one another is to remind each other This is normal. And This shall pass. And You’re not alone. 

I mean, it’s happening in The Oval Office. CNN is talking about tantrums, y’all. (And I thought my son’s library meltdown of 2006 was epic).

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You will survive this hard place.

And most importantly, One day, You will thank God for it.

My own strong-willed girl walked up in the middle of our conversation and my friend said, “Look at your daughter. She loves Jesus. She’s amazing and she isn’t out of control.”

“Not in public anyway,” my daughter quipped and wandered off.

We laughed. Because I’ve learned strong-willed toddlers grow up to be strong-willed teens.

And that’s more than okay. It’s actually a blessing and I wouldn’t change it if I could. Even when saying no means tempers flare or make the meanest mom. I’ll take it.

I pulled my friend close and I said these words, “Listen, I know these strong-willed children are challenging. They push our buttons, they make us question our parenting. We cry and hit our knees. But they are used by God to transform us. They show us our humanity, our weakness and mostly how much we need Jesus.

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“We want our determined, fierce kids to stand up first to us so someday they can stand up against the world.”

I thought of my own strong-willed girls who have stood against most of my food and friend and fashion suggestions for years, only to see them stand up for faith in the face of a culture that lacks it.

The beauty of strong-willed children is that they are strong.

They will try and lead and manipulate us; starve and dress themselves and win every argument. Their determination will embarrass and thrill us all in the same day.

We will beg and barter and bribe. We will question every move we make and cringe at every fit. But we will remember that their fierce determination is channeled into velvet strength and these kids who won’t give up their will, also will not give in.

Yes, they chase hard after what they want, but they also chase hard after what’s right.

So, Momma of the strong-willed child pulling out your hair, wondering if you’ll ever be able to eat in public again, be encouraged. That little one will change the world.

But first, she will change you.

Dear Children: Let Me Explain This Thing Called Summer

It was an hour after she got home from Vacation Bible School last summer.

One hour after Water games! Snow cones! a Slimy Craft! Dancing and Singing! The Best Day Ever!

We were in the second week of summer. The second week of sleeping in and she was slipping and sliding towards boredom.

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Walking around the house, whining about nothing to do.

Kicking her foot and waiting outside the bathroom door. (I wasn’t hiding, really).

Sound familiar?

Go. Find. Something. To. Do.

She gave me an empty stare and then I realized she was waiting on me to tell her what to do, to do something with or for her.

And there it was again, this “You Owe Me” mentality that is wrecking our culture. We do so much for our kids- camps and classes,  back and forth to lessons and events, we spend money and fill their lives with stuff and you’d think they would be oozing gratitude, but we are taken aback when they just want more.

More activities, more fun, more stuff.

More.

And honestly, I can’t really blame my first grader. Because for a long time, I provided The More. I bought into this lie that it’s my job to make my kids’ childhood magical and fun and everyday an adventure all about them.

I have fed the entitlement beast and when it rears it’s ugly head, my children aren’t the only ones to blame.

Our children need to be bored. They need to kick their feet and wait outside of bathroom doors, unanswered. They need to be sent outside or to their rooms to play. They need to turn over the bag of tricks and find it empty.

Because that’s when they will discover they don’t need stuff to fill their time. They don’t need a plan for entertainment.

They can create their own. And that’s when summer gets magical.

I pulled my little one aside and got down on eye level and I said, “Let me explain summer to you, honey.”

“There will be fun days! We will check boxes off your summer bucket list. We will play. We will work. We will serve. We will have great times. But there will also be a lot of unplanned days, there will be empty hours. There will be days when you’ve watched enough TV or we won’t be leaving the house for something super fun.

At first, these days may seem boring or like there is nothing to do. And that’s okay. Because after you whine and perhaps, cry, you will have to make up your own fun. You’ll get into that book from the library. You’ll draw doll furniture and cut it out and give your paper dolls a good home. You will figure something out. I love to see you having fun, but I will not, I cannot make every day fun. It’s not my job to make every moment The Best of Your Life. But it is my job to teach you that the days that aren’t fun usually end up being the best ones of summer.”

She ended up with a bucket of Legos and spent a couple of hours creating the coolest flying space car ever.

Sometimes we have to just wait for our kids to remember just how fun boredom can be.

C’mon, moms! Who’s with me?

 

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