We were told this was supposed to be a routine outpatient surgery. Instead our then 22-month old daughter, Summer, ended up in pediatric ICU with pulmonary edema. It was torture for my husband and me to watch her tiny body heave up and down as she tried to pull her little arms free from the straps that held her body still while the nurses suctioned fluid from her lungs. God intervened to heal Summer and then our little one's tenacity took over as she recovered. It was then we realized we had a tiny tiger on our hands.
Summer is now 19 and she has been “blessed” with an abundance of stubbornness (just ask her older sisters what life was like growing up with her! :) ) Early on, as we noticed this often not-so-endearing trait in her young life, my husband wisely recognized that her stubbornness could become a real asset if channeled in the right direction. And so we worked to instill in her and her siblings a heart for God and a fierce love for His Word. Summer’s stubbornness remains, but it is almost always directed in a godly manner. While Summer is a diminutive young lady, she is a giant in character. Instead of making us want to pull our hair out, she has become a delight. She hates injustice, loves helping others who are struggling and stands up for truth, even when it is uncomfortable to do so.
You may find yourselves living with a little tiger, too—that child who is difficult to discipline and at times makes you question your own mental stability. How do you keep your sanity when you have one of these children? I am here to tell you the situation is not hopeless, but you do have to be on it 24/7.
Here are some things we did with our stubborn child to point her stubbornness in a positive direction:
1. We affirmed her stubbornness as a characteristic God could use to build His kingdom.
2. We gave her (and her siblings) things worth being passionate about. For example, we helped her as a young child care about the mentally handicapped by involving her in our church’s ministry to the mentally and physically challenged. We took her to pray in front of the abortion clinic weekly. We told her to watch for children being left out in Sunday School or other social settings and befriend them.
3. We taught her a Christian worldview and helped her see why the Christian faith made sense.
4. We worked hard at being consistent in discipline.
5. We bathed her in prayer because we knew we alone were not big enough for the task God had presented us with.
Raising a stubborn child is not for the faint of heart. But if you can remember that your stubborn child was placed in your family as part of God’s sovereign plan, it can help you keep your focus in directing that awful, wonderful stubbornness in the right direction.
Keep pressing on,
Photo Credit: http://www.dreamstime.com/stubborn-image5241850