We have all been there. In a store, a restaurant, just leisurely going about your business, when out of the blue, you hear (what you are convinced are) sounds of a poor animal suffering a painful death. You prepare yourself for the crime scene that is sure to be around the corner… but no. Around that corner appears a tantruming kid and their unfortunate parent. “Gah, lady, learn how to control your kid…” “Wow. Bad parenting…” “What she really needs to do is…” “If I was that parent…” “If she would only…” Judgmental thoughts flood your head as your ears bleed from the loud, misbehaving toddler.
Hi. That’s me. I’ve been the one with the impatient thoughts… and now full circle, I am the one with the drama queen in my shopping cart.
I know. Eat your words, mama.
I have one, just one kid. I don’t have a brood of 11, 7, hell, even 3 at this point, though Lord willing, I would love to one day. But my one? She is fiercely independent and strong willed. Oh, the intentional defiance, constant flow of demands, the larger than life personality bubbling out of a tiny 2 year old frame. The colorful outbursts of every emotion under the sun. The desire to experience it ALL on her own, and all HER way. I could tell stories for days of her antics. Don’t get me wrong, she is the most beautiful creature that I have ever laid eyes on and I couldn’t love her more deeply, but sometimes she is more Tasmanian Devil than human. I’ve asked myself, what am I doing wrong??
If you have a strong willed child, you know exactly what I am talking about. If you don’t, or if you read this and still think it’s from a “lack” of parenting or being present, well then, bless your heart.
I’m 1 of 8 kids. I babysat and nannied more years and kids than I can remember. If anything in life is familiar to me, kids are it. We have a predictable and peaceful home, we don’t yell, hit (duh), watch crazy movies (or much TV at all), we get outside often, read lots of books, snuggle, say I love you, and play patty cake. Motherhood is my jam. I LOVE IT. So WHY does she act like an escaped looney toon?!
I’ve read countless articles and books on parenting the strong-willed child – hey, I’m a young mom who just wants to make sure I am doing the best I can.
We are consistent. Painfully consistent sometimes, as my husband likes to remind me after leaving the store we just entered 10 seconds ago. I can’t tell you how many shopping carts I’ve abandoned to make sure she understands that we don’t behave like that in public. I have her time out area accessible at home so I don’t have to run up three flights of stairs to get her to her room (because by that time she’s stopped misbehaving and is thoroughly enjoying my huffing and puffing as we run up the stairs). I’m not afraid to leave, or do whatever I need to do to make sure she “get’s it”…. but man does it suck sometimes.
Some days I am just frazzled. Some days I am freaking exhausted. Some days, a lot of days actually, I feel like I am just totally failing at this whole parenting gig. Trust me, no one wants my kid to behave more than I do. I never considered myself a judgmental person, but finding myself in my current state of life has really opened my eyes to a lot of things. Including the current refresher on not judging a book by its cover and not taking yourself too seriously. You never know what people have been through or are going through. Sure, there will be those “bad parents” who choose to let their kids misbehave and run around like maniacs, but the vast majority of us are all normal people, and GREAT parents, just trying to get through the day and preserve our sanity.
It’s a great thing I love to read, because my strong-willed little sweetheart has given me a pretty nice stack of parenting books on my nightstand to peruse. For real though, if you are a young mom with a strong-willed kiddo, I highly recommend reading up for encouragement and your own peace of mind. Chances are you are doing EVERYTHING right, it’s just you have been gifted with a strong-willed sweetheart of your own that is going to do big things one day. In The Strong Willed Child, Dr. Dobson talks about how these types of children (*ahem, future world leaders) require a special kind of parenting (and a special kind of patience) where you will find the balance of helping to SHAPE their will (meaning you are equipping them with the ability to manage their own feelings and impulses in the future) but not break or crush their spirit. That was something that struck me. Shape the will, but not crush their spirit – what a fine line I hadn’t thought about before. Her spirit is what I love most about her!
Remembering that she is not my trained monkey (and will not behave as such if she has anything to do with it) but finding that balance between respecting who she is as her own little person and teaching her how to act respectfully is the challenge. Preserving that free spirit but helping direct her on the appropriate path. Remembering that God chose ME to be her mother. I know I’m not a bad mom by any means, but it’s my job to be the parent my strong-willed sweetheart needs.
She loves hard, plays hard, sleeps hard, fights hard. She’s my little wild flower and I would’t have it any other way.
Off to read my stack of parenting books….
xo – J