Some people call their children strong-willed b/c they refuse to eat their vegetables. Others call their children strong-willed as an excuse for negative behavior. But those who relate to this term the most know that strong-willed is a way of life that has uprooted every idea we ever had about parenting.
- Parenting a strong-willed child means that you have learned to be open to everything your child is arguing for b/c they are willing to fight for it longer than you are willing to fight against it.
- Parenting a strong-willed child means that you feel like you are “lawyered” every day & talked into things you had never considered before.
- Parenting a strong-willed child means that redirection is a nice idea, but it never actually works.
- Parenting a strong-willed child means that you now feel more frustration & pride in a single moment than you ever thought possible.
- Parenting a strong-willed child means that you understand that other parents will never understand why you “let your child do whatever they want.”
… even though this is not true. I give my children a lot of freedom, but there are a handful of things that I will not budge on.
It is completely unacceptable to be downright mean, cruel, & aggressive. You can have feelings – be angry, be sad, etc – but you cannot lash out at the people around you in a way that hurts them, physically or emotionally.
I take great lengths to respect my children. I want them to know that their thoughts, ideas, & feelings are important & heard. I take great lengths to teach them to put themselves in other people’s shoes. I want them to know that other people’s thoughts, ideas, & feelings are also important!
I have strong-willed children, but that does not mean that they act out & are difficult to be around. It means that they stand up for what they believe in with everything that they have – whether they believe they should have a lollipop, or they believe that a friend was mistreated on the playground.
I admire this confidence! I admire their ability to go against the grain, stay strong in what they have to say, & persuade other people.
Does it make my job as a parent more difficult? Do I sometimes wish that my children would just do what I said without questioning it? Do I tire of having to think through every scenario? Yup… but taking that extra time & care with my strong-willed boys is what is going to turn them into incredible men.