Hello, my name is Summer and I'm the parent of a strong willed child.
...and now that child is in their tween years, and Oh. My. Word.
Let's just say my husband and I are ever so humbled like we've never quite been humbled before. I'm telling you, being the parent of a strong willed child really allows you to see just how much you really don't know, and exactly how much you really do need to rely on the Lord every single second.
And while we are still in the trenches when it comes to parenting, and I most definitely don't have all the answers, I have just found that by sharing our journey and what the Lord has shown us along the way (and having others do the same with us), it brings such a comfort in hearing that you are not alone. You are not the only one thinking that, feeling that, experiencing that, or losing that...(whether that be your patience or maybe your mind?) Girl, I get it. Right there with you. How do they say it, "been there -- bought the t-shirt?"
1. Read the Books -- but remember that parenting is more than a formula.
I'm all about the parenting books.
And whatever else I can get my hands on to help gain some insight and wisdom into how not to mess up my kids and cause them to need counseling one day. (is there a book with that title? if not, there totally should be!)
One thing I want to say about books is while they can be incredibly helpful and encouraging and have a lot of wisdom and a lot of tips. I've just realized, however, that a lot times the books I was reading were causing me to feel a little bit like I was failing. I would try all the techniques and all the formulas, and I wasn't getting the results or I wasn't able to keep up with them all, so I ended up feeling a bit like a failure. So I'd move on to the next book, or the next formula, and it would work for a little bit and then it wouldn't work.
Here's the thing, there's always going to be a book, there's always going to be another better way, and it often will get overwhelming. I'm realizing now at this point in our parenting journey that while I will still continue to read books and learn from other's experience and their wisdom, I can't be legalistic about what I'm learning and taking in. I can't say that THIS IS THE WAY or tell you that there is ONE WAY to parent your kids. There is one way, and that's what the bible says, but all the other stuff out there? It's extra credit. If it works, great! If not, pass it on!
(list of books & podcasts that have really encouraged me are listed in the description box of the video below!)
2. It Takes a Village -- don't carry the burden alone
One idea that we've recently decided to adopt after reading Sticky Faith, is that once our kids become preteens (strong willed or not!), we are going to ask 3-5 people (men for our son, women for our daughter), godly women and godly men, if they would be willing to help mentor our kids. For our son, we asked each mentor if they could choose 2 months a year, and then pick just one day in that month to get together with him and do something special. It could be a hike, playing soccer, lunch...anything really, just set aside time to specifically minister into his life.
We are quickly realizing that our kids are not always going to want to listen to us, it really does take a village, and we want to use the resources God has blessed us with in our family, our friends and in our church. We cannot be all things to our kids, and so we pray that they will always have other mentors that they can go to that will speak godly wisdom and truth into their hearts and lives.
3. Remember that Parenting is an Act of Worship -- release the results to Lord
We are doing this parenting thing as obedience and as an act of worship to the Lord, and yes, while we have a portion of the responsibility for how our children turn out, we do not carry all of the responsibility for how our children turn out. It's partly our responsibility, partly our child's, but ultimately...it's up the Lord! He is sovereign and He has a plan for this child's life, and we are not so powerful as parents that we can thwart God's plans for our children. And so we do the best we can, we do it as worship, and we leave the results up to the Lord. We have to trust that our child, our strong willed child, or our shy child or whatever type of child God has given us, God created them that way for a purpose. So when I look at my child who has a strong will, instead of being sad or discouraged that they're this way, I just have to remind myself that God gave them this character and this personality for a reason. I simply need to continue showing him Christ, pointing him to Christ, loving him as Christ has loved me and then pray without ceasing that God will work out that strong will to glorify Him in that child's life.
We can't follow the law, as far as formulas and checking off this, this and this, well enough to earn the salvation of our kids. It's not up to us. We simply have to continually release that over to the Lord.
God is sovereign. He is just. And He has a plan for our children.
And in the process we get to be humbled, sanctified, and become fully aware just how much we all need a Savior.
Parenting truly is a beautiful thing!