Hope for When You’re Raising a Strong Willed Child

I have a general disdain for being told what to do, and that’s the way it’s been since I was a little girl. I can take care of myself and make my own decisions, thank you very much. I also have the keen ability of finding myself in conflict, especially when something triggers my sense of righteousness. And I can also engage in a battle of words without ceasing and desisting until I’ve won.

Oh yes, I am what the experts like to call strong willed and what mommas liked to call “trouble” with a capital T.

There’s nothing fun about feeling like “trouble” nor finding yourself in the middle of it . . . all the time. It’s not like I choose to be this way. Neither did my daughter. She can match my strength and determination inch by inch. Her passion to stand up for the oppressed, her determination to persevere through a challenge on her own, and her skill at arguing a point, are all manifestation of her God-given gifts — her strength — but unyielded to God can leave a wake of destruction in her path. Yes, she often finds herself in conflict and feeling condemnation about it, too.

The problem in being strong-willed occurs when God-given strength is not yielded to the Lord for His glory. {click to tweet}

So how does a strong-willed person learn to yield? Moreover, how does a parent of a strong-willed child endure the battles while training the heart submit to the Lord?

Hope for When You're Raising a Strong-Willed Child

No doubt, raising a strong-willed child can be exhausting. It’s an endeavor that requires much prayer and perseverance in the pursuit of holy sanctification and heart-changing transformation. But it’s also a privilege, because within that child is a young person who has the potential to impact the world for the glory of God in powerful way.

She’s not strong willed. She’s a young woman who has yet to discover her leadership potential.

He’s not stubborn- hearted. He’s a man of honor who has yet to discover the impact of humble servant-hood.

Our strong-willed children still need to discover how they are wired so that they know how to use the gifts and talents God has given them.

 

Hope for Raising Strong-Willed Children

Training up a child who is wired with such strength demands equal commitment in going through the trenches with them. May these steps give you ways to find hope, help, and a healthy perspective as you get into the trenches of parenting with them:

1.  Change the Label

There’s nothing worse than being identified as strong-willed, or any other similarly negative label. While it may be truth, it points to the behavior rather than a Christ-centered identity. So skip the public or private “strong-willed” identifier in favor of calling out their God-given gifts and potential. Casting vision for ways they can use their yielded strength in leadership positions, career opportunities, and relationships. In the midst of conflict, affirm their God-honoring behavior. Praise their humility and the times they yield. Cheer for them to continue to exercise self control.

2.  Seek God Daily

It’s impossible to parent in your own strength, so devote daily time to connecting with God, being in the Word, and yielding your heart in prayer.  Pour out your heart before the Lord on behalf of your child, asking for wisdom and discernment to know what to say, when to say it, and how to respond in each situation. And ask the Holy Spirit to lead as you combat the emotions triggered by your child’s behavior. {Here’s a great guide!}

3.  Respond with Truth and Grace

Your child needs to be reminded of the truth of Scripture, but if emotions are escalated, it’s probably better to skip the lecture, threat, or insistence on behavior change for the moment. Offer grace through giving space in order for emotions to settle down before addressing the heart issue. Ask the Lord to work in their heart while working in yours as well during the cool down period.

4.  Use Questions for Everything

A strong-willed person hates to be told what to do and they almost always want the last word.  Whenever possible, use open ended questions to give your child the opportunity to participate in the decision-making process. (This is the art of life coaching and why being trained as a coach was so beneficial to me). For example, “Would you like to finish your homework now or after dinner?” Offer a question while making a decision for them, such as “Yes, you can have a sleepover on Friday night, but this will be the last one until after break, or you can pass on this sleepover and arranged one for the first weekend next month.”

5.  Don’t Go It Alone

A collaborative effort is most certainly helpful and beneficial in raising a strong-willed child, so don’t be afraid to connect with your a mom-mentor, your child’s teacher, a pastor, or a counselor for insight and perspective. You don’t need to go at this alone!

You’ve been called by God to be the mom of a strong-willed child, even if you feel unqualified and overwhelmed. He is with you. He is your strength. May you parent this precious one on your knees knowing that God is at work accomplishing His purpose in their life.

Blessings,

Elisa Pulliam

moretobe.com & elisapulliam.com

Taking “Scary” Out of Goal Setting

I think when most people hear someone say “goal” they have one of two thoughts — either SCORE, as in the kind that flies into a net during the World Cup, or SCARED, as in “don’t make me think of the future.”

Taking Scary Out of Goal Setting

Of course, there’s the rare blend of personality types, like a choleric/melancholy temperament, who actually get excited about setting goals. In their God-given wiring, these natural goal setters are long-term thinkers with a knack for vision-casting and list-making. They delight in coming up with life goals that can be measured, marked off, and purposefully achieved. God has a place for these goal-setters, especially when they are yielded to His kingdom purposes and provide opportunities for others to join God in His work.  And God also has a purpose for those who’d rather leave the goal setting to someone else.

Those who live “in the moment” offer a grounding for those bent on casting vision for tomorrow.

Consistent with how God made His body, each person in it has a role to play. {click to tweet}

So when it comes to goal setting, are you a goal setter or an in-the-here-and-now type of gal? Even more importantly, how does the way you’re wired in terms of goal setting impact how your parenting? Are a you vision-planner, sometimes worrier, trying to script your children’s lives? Or are you an easy-going, spontaneous soul bringing joy daily to your off-spring, but over the long haul they may feel directionless?

No matter where you fall on the goal-setting continuum, what if you approached goal setting in light of God’s sovereignty, and embarked on it purposefully and prayerfully?

Really, most of us are busy goal setting even when we think we’re not! When you allow the Spirit of God to whisper a direction or conviction into your soul and then you choose walk in faith in that direction — well, that’s goal setting. When you recognize a place of sin in your life and pursue repentance before God, that’s goal setting. When you look at your resources and decide how to spend what you have and save for what you don’t, well that’s goal setting, too.

So what if we took time, maybe an hour every few months to evaluate how where living and what needs to change? What if we considered the attributes of God and what it would look like to develop those in ourselves? What if we consider the priorities of God and built a lifestyle around those principles? What if instead of begging God to change us or our circumstances, we took the time to pursue in-the-flesh, led-by-the-spirit change over defined period of time?

Do you know what happens when you set goals and cast vision, humbly and prayerfully before God? Well, you’ll end up seeing God move in your life!  And when you see God move, you’ll see your faith grow too!

As followers of Christ, choosing to set goals should really be about embracing God’s everyday purposes while yielding to His eternally perfect plan.

So will you choose to set some reasonable, measurable, and purposefully prayed over goals for you and your children?

 

 

You can download the “Choose Your Goals” resource available for
FREE at elisapulliam.com to help you set some goals for yourself and your family.

choose your goals

Blessings,

Elisa

Praying for Your Children On Purpose

I’ve gone through seasons of being incredibly intentional about praying for my children — notice I said seasons. I admit, I’ve not been faithful in prayer, as I wish would have when I look back on the fifteen years of parenting that have already passed.

Praying for Your Children

There was this one year that I prayed for each child on a different day of the week. And another year in which I participated in a Moms in Prayer group — and oh my, we saw the Lord move on behalf of our children in amazing ways! But for the most part, my prayers for my children have amounted to something like this. . .

Oh God, be with them. Keep them safe. Help them to be wise. May they love you fully. And may they want to know you personally and make you known.

While this prayer may seem fine, it sort of feels like the cliff notes version of a larger book that should be read in order to get the full appreciation of the content. It’s not all that I can do as a praying mother. And I want that to change.

Lamentations 2:19

Arise, cry out in the night,
    as the watches of the night begin;
pour out your heart like water
    in the presence of the Lord.
Lift up your hands to him
    for the lives of your children . . .

Although I have journals scribbled full with pleas and petitions to the Lord, there aren’t enough of those pages filled up with prayers for my children. I think I’ve pushed praying for my children aside because their needs feel so easily met by me at the moment. In light of other circumstances we’ve faced, like family tentions, life-changing decisions, and health crises too many to count, my children are doing just fine. Fine is fine. But for how long?

Their lives will only get more “un-fine” as they grow up, which is why they need their momma praying for them on purpose . . . now. {click to tweet}

So as I turn to face the next decade of being a mother, I want to invest my time in bringing more than passing pleas to the Lord. I want to pause long enough to reflect on their needs and pray for them the way I’d want to be prayed for by others.

I want to give to the Lord what I see in their personalities that need His touch.

I want to talk to God about the struggles they face and the fears they feel.

I want to hand over to their Maker my concerns about their relationships.

I want to yield to the Lord His plans for their lives and get out of the way of the story He is writing.

These desires to pray diligently for my children may be lofty, but I think they reflect the heart of God.

 A longing to pray for our children comes from the Spirit’s conviction and most certainly will face the enemies opposition.

So how can we move forward with a plan to pray for our children that won’t be stumped by fleshy distractions? It think it looks like this:

  1. We need to start with prayer, asking God for His strength to move in this direction.
  2. We need to ask for someone to hold us accountable — someone who shares the passion and will be willing to ask us weekly, “So how did you do in praying for your children this week?”
  3. And we need a simple plan for how to pray, like this resource you can download from moretobe.com, so that we can be intentional.

What do you think, momma?

Will this be the moment in which you decide that you’ll pray for your children on purpose?  Will you embrace the fresh start, here at the beginning of a school year, and set a goal of sticking with it for more than a month?

I hope so. And I’m willing to ask you to hold me accountable, too. I want the next decade of my mothering to be marked by a commitment to pray for my children. Let’s do this together.

Shine Bright & More Beautiful,

Elisa

moretobe.com & elisapulliam.com

 {Don’t forget to grab the “Praying on Purpose for Your Children” download available at More to Be!}

Giving Thanks for the Space You Call Your Home

The sound of rain hitting the tree tops and the clanging of the dryer spinning with rocks inside, thanks to my boy of course, break my concentration long enough to remind me of an important truth.

This is what I always wanted.  

A family of my own.  

And a safe-haven to dwell in together when the storms of life hit noisy and loud.

But if I was still living for my own dreams, I would have missed the reality of this blessing.

See, I’ve always wanted to own a home. And yet what I’ve wanted has not been a part of God’s plans. My husband is a boarding school teacher, and housing is a part of his package. In all our years together, we’ve lived in 7 different homes, from apartments to condos within a dorm to houses small and large. They are not all created equal, nor are the responsibilities that go with each one. And none of them have a white picket fence with an ocean view I’ve dreamed about since I was a little girl!

How we live in the spaces we're given . . .

For the first ten years of living in this place, I wrestled with God over our housing situation. I was ungrateful. Plain and simple. And I was discontent with our circumstances, until one housing fiasco led to another and I had no choice but give it all up to the Lord.

“God, from this point forward I will thank you for the place you’ve given us to live in. No matter what. No matter where.”

God took me up on that prayer. Only a few weeks after surrendering to the Lord, we moved into a beautiful, large home rented by the School. I was overwhelmed by God’s provisions. Humbled and grateful for the way that house enabled us to have an extended family member live with us for my than six months, and meet a need in her life. However, God did not plan for us to stay there long term.

A year later, we had to move again, and settled into a smaller, condo-like home in a girls dorm. I loved the responsibilities, but it wasn’t an ideal long-term commitment. Two years later, we were packing boxes again.  In a bittersweet departure from dorm life, we moved into a what seemed like a reasonable size home for a family for four, only to find out a few months later that we were having twins. Our roomy home vanished into a world of baby gear and discontentment took over my soul. I set my eyes on the larger school homes, aptly named the battleships of the fleet, convinced that the larger space would make my life better.

In God’s perfect plan, we did not move into one of those larger homes. We had no choice but to stay put for another three years, before we moved into a house with more bedrooms — a grace place where our spiritually adopted daughter would have room to live with us. We thought this was the end of the line for our moves at the school, and then we were graciously offered the opportunity to move into a home with more common space — the house we now call our home. It’s not a perfect place. It’s not without it’s little issues. It’s required creativity and flexibility to make some parts of it work for us. But it’s a home we give thanks for, as much as we did for the last three — because it’s the place we get to live together as a family and serve those who God brings in through the back door.

I’ve learned through this journey that a house isn’t a home because you’ve paid the mortgage and call it your own.

It was in the squishy, uncomfortable home in which the twins were born that I truly learned how to give thanks for the home God gave us — then and now. The Lord changed my heart and perspective, opening my eyes to see that no earthly dwelling is meant to be our forever home.

It’s the relationships and interactions and experiences lived within the walls that define our home that matter more than the decor and accessories and square footage and taxes paid.

Whether it is small or large. Whether it is newly renovated or shabby but not chic. Whether it is beautifully decorated or filled with clutter. Whether it is rented, owned, or assigned.

It’s what we do within the spaces we’re given that matter most to God. {click to tweet}

A home on this earth is only meant to be a temporary dwelling . . . a space that most likely will cause us to groan with longing for something more.

Eternity.

Humbled and grateful,

Elisa

moretobe.com & elisapulliam.com

If you would like help in shifting your mindset about your home and space,
consider using this living intentionally resource and the benefits of life coaching.

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