Thursday, February 2, 2012

Strong-Willed Child

To anyone who knows me and my family in real life, it’s no surprise to you that Lorelai is a strong willed child. To the core. She is, in all honesty, exactly like me. When she was born, LL was the exact opposite of what she is now. She was so chill; so go with the flow. She never cried. She never made a fuss about anything. She was just a happy baby and happy to do whatever. Then, about the time that she started getting mobile, her personality started changing. She had an opinion! Please, don’t get me wrong: she never turned into a “bad” child. Never. She just changed from an easy-going, textbook baby, to the dictionary definition of strong-willed. When she was about 9 months old, this exact situation happened: If The Hubs and I told her not to touch the light socket, she waited a second and did it again. When we told her no again, she waited another second and did it again. This was about the time that we were starting to discipline her by “popping” her hand. Nothing serious. Just enough to let her know that we weren’t joking. After the third time of warning her about the light socket, she touched it again. I popped her hand and told her a firm, “No, ma’am!”. What did she do? She looked me dead in the eyes and laughed. I popped her again and again repeated “No, ma’am!”. What did she do this time? She laughed again. This is a wonderful example of the strong willed nature of my child.

I’ve blogged on here tons before about my nephew, Ben. Ben and LL are almost exactly 6 months apart (Ben is younger). Ben is not a strong willed child at all. Ben is very compliant. It’s also no surprise to anyone that reads this blog that Emily is one of my best friends. Kye is Emily’s son. He is also not strong willed. These children are two of LL’s best friends and they are the kids and moms that I spend the majority of my time around.  Both my sister and Emily are amazing moms.  And both Ben and Kye are amazing kids. This is the part where I’m going to be very honest with you. Having two of your best friends (my sis, Laura, and Emily) raising non-strong-willed children while you yourself are raising one can be very difficult. My sister can tell Ben not to do something and he’ll stop. Emily can re-direct Kye in a behavior and he’ll listen. Lorelai will do something that she’s not supposed to and it can take me 30 minutes to “win the battle”. It becomes daunting sometimes.

The reality is: there have been many days where I have felt like I have failed LL as her mommy. Many days that I have felt like if I were doing a better job, she would be one of those “fall in line and do what you say the first time” kinds of kids. Let me make something very clear right here before I go any further: I am not AT ALL dissatisfied with my sweet girl and her personality. I think that she is perfect in every way. But on the days that we struggle with issues that we’ve been struggling with for a year, I feel like I have in some way failed her. Never in my life have I felt that she is less than what I want her to be. I struggle so much sometimes with feeling like I’m letting her down. That if I was a better mother, we wouldn’t have to have one more day where I have to battle with her to not throw a fit. Or pick up her toys the first time. Or come to me the first time I call. I feel like these are all results of MY shortcomings.

I’ve felt like this on and off for LL’s whole life. That the reason that she is not a “textbook” child is because I have failed her in some way. I pulled up Kelly’s Korner the other day and she had posted a link to this article: “I Don’t Want to Raise a Good Child”. Kelly had also had a rough day with a toddler (just a month older than LL) who is also very strong-willed. I can tell you one thing for absolute sure: that article was meant just for me and has forever changed my way of thinking.

I will now, for the rest of my life, carry on with my parenting knowing that I am doing the BEST job that I possibly can, and that nothing I can possibly do will change LL’s little spirit. And I don’t want to change it. I have a strong willed child. She does not always listen. Sometimes I have to ask her 3 times before she will finally listen. Sometimes I have to pick “battles” ever. single. day. over little things. But that is totally okay. Because this is who she is. And she has not been created this way by some “failure” on my part!

Because there is a bigger goal in all of this. I can be the perfect “BabyWise” mom, but that will never change who LL is to her core. My goal in this life is not to raise a “good” child. My goal in this life is to raise a God-following adult. Here is a quote exactly from that article that describes perfectly how I feel, “Maybe God’s goal wasn’t for me to raise a good rule following child. God’s goal was for me to raise a God-following adult. An adult just as determined and independent and insistent enough to fulfill a purpose He had in mind all along.”

Yes, my daughter is strong-willed. Yes, we still work on a daily basis with her on using manners. Or following directions. Or any of 1,000 things that we’ve been working on for forever. But I also have a daughter who is loving. And sweet. And FUNNY. And who loves Jesus. A sweet little 2 year old girl who called from her bed the other night, “Mommy, there are no monsters in here – just Jesus!”. That, my friends, is doing it right. That is my ultimate goal as her parent. So, she doesn’t pick up her toys? Not all the time. But she’s memorizing more scripture than I can keep up with. So, we still have to remind her to use her manners? Yes. But she also LOVES going to church and learning about Jesus. So while I sometimes feel like I’m failing her as her parent, I know that she is going to be exactly who God wants her to be – strong willed and all. And these characteristics will be what help to get her there.

I mentioned at the beginning of this that she gets all of this honest from me. And she really does. But then I have to remind myself of all of the GOOD things that my strong willed nature got me in life.

I finished college despite getting married at 20. I worked a job. Went to school. Was married. And I still did it. And I graduated with a wonderful GPA and got a great job. Even though people told me they didn’t think I would.

I waited to have sex until I got married. I made a decision at a young age that I would be pure and clean on my wedding day: a present for my husband just as God intended. Even though the world told me that I wouldn’t.

I’m coming up on my 8 year wedding anniversary married to my absolute best friend in the entire world. And we’re doing better than we ever have. Even though I grew up in a divorced home.

So my strong willed nature really has gotten me some really great things in my life. And I know that I wouldn’t change that about myself for anything in the world. So I’m happy to say that I’ve passed that trait onto my child. Will it make things more difficult? Sure. But I can’t WAIT to see how God uses those traits to make her into an AMAZING adult.

One more thing from the article that I will always keep with me:

Here are 3 simple mothering perspectives that you must hang onto

1- Don’t take too much credit for their good.

2- Don’t take too much credit for their bad.

3- Don’t try to raise a good child. Raise a God-following adult.

So for those of you who know me or will ever meet me: yes. LL is strong willed. No, she is not a “textbook” child. And she probably never will be. But she’s perfect. And she’s amazing. And I wouldn’t change her for the world.



Stephanie said...

You are totally describing my child. People (mainly without kids) or the ones who raise those children who do things the first time often look at me like I'm doing something wrong. I often feel the exact same way- what am I doing wrong?? Thanks for the post And the link to the article. It's nice to know I'm not alone!

Amanda said...

I can totally say "AMEN" to this post. I read Kelly's post and felt so relieved in some way. I was very strong willed as well so I knew Preslei would be just like me.

anna said...

Hey Robyn! I've been following your blog for a little while but this is the first time I've commented. I have a little girl who will be 3 in March and is definitely strong willed. I have always thought this was a bad thing but after reading this I can see now it can be a great thing! I also feel like dealing with this now is preparing me for the challenges we will face as she grows older and will help me to continue to stay strong against her will and train her up in the right way. Lorelai is absolutely precious and I enjoy reading about your life. I have also been praying for you and the baby and hope things continue to go well for you. Thanks for sharing!

Katherine said...

This was such a great post Robyn! Thanks for making us think and sharing your experiences! Love reading your blog!