The child sat in front of her mom, tears streaming. The mom just listened as her child managed to get a few words out at a time between sobs. She heard her child question all capability and capacity.
The child in that scene was …
The mom was my son’s grandma.
It wasn’t the first and certainly not the last time that I poured my heart out to my own mom as I wrestled with a soul full of doubt over my ability to mother.
But this particular session stayed with me because I can remember the new words that framed my challenge. I can still recall telling my mom, “It would be so much easier if I didn’t have to be consistent …”
Ah, consistency. Seemingly a foundation of all good parenting. But when you’re raising a strong-willed child, it can begin to feel more like a death sentence.
My son was four at the time. Four years of raising a strong-willed child. I had only just begun but I was already weary.
Each morning I would begin with new intentions to be intentional in conversation and consequences. Some days, the grace abounded and I’d make it through the day without yelling.
Most days, not so much. And by the time I tucked that tiny tornado into bed at night, I had nothing left except tears to fill all the holes in my parenting performance for the day.
The guilt mounted. The narrative in my head took on a life of its own and the story always went something like this:
There once was a bad mom who failed miserably in raising her son.
The son grew up and only remembered how much his mom yelled
and because she squashed his spirit,
he was destined to live a lonely life,
failing at everything,
and blaming his mother.
At the time, I thought I was the only one with thoughts like these. Now that I’m on the other side of the mothering journey and writing about that season, I’ve learned just how common these fears are.
I could offer you parenting advice and quote Dr. Dobson’s “Strong Willed Child” or “Parenting Isn’t for Cowards.” (Both of those books were purchased before my son turned two.) If my copy of “Dare to Discipline” weren’t so tear-stained, I could even harvest some sage advice from it as well.
But I don’t think you need more advice. In fact, if you’re reading this, you’re likely one of those who is constantly searching for more input on how to get this parenting thing right.
And here’s what I’ve learned:
Those who are concerned about doing it right
are the ones who probably are most of the time.
Yes, consistency is important. Yes, you need to pick your battles. Yes, if you pick a battle, you must win it. And we could add 20 other mantras to the list.
But parents of those born with an iron will need something else just as important as advice. And some could argue you need it even more.Hope for the Mom of a Strong Willed Son #boymom @ChristiLGee Click To Tweet
You need to hear that it won’t always be this way. That it gets better. That holding on and carrying through is worth it.
You need to believe me when I tell you that once they are launched, they look back through eyes of grace. I got so much wrong, as you’ve just read. But when my strong-willed son recounts stories of his childhood, he remembers moments when I got it right. The hard stuff faded into the background. And he makes me feel like a much better mom than I ever imagined possible.
You need to be encouraged that if you yelled today when your son disobeyed you for the tenth time, you get a do over on the eleventh. And if you yelled on numbers 11, 12, and 13, then you get a do over tomorrow. God’s mercies are new EVERY morning, after all. (Lam. 3:23)
You need to be reminded that God’s grace is also for your parenting. And here’s the secret to the sisterhood:
You don’t have to get it perfect and it’s not all up to you.
God uses imperfect people,
and outright disobedience
to develop character in His people.
You’ve seen this in your children.
Remember it applies to your parenting.
And finally, you need to be reminded that mothering is kingdom work. Really, really important kingdom work. There’s bad news and good news that goes with that.
First, the bad news. Since it’s kingdom work, you are up against kingdom enemies. So if it feels like you are always in a battle, it’s because you are.
But the good ~ no GREAT ~ news is this: Kingdom work carries kingdom promises.Click To Tweet
I leave you with one of my favorites that has sustained me along the journey of parenting a strong-willed son:
“Let us not become weary in doing good,
for at the proper time,
we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”
Hang in there, mama. Harvest day WILL come!
Embracing the journey,
Christi Gee can be found at The Cheerio Trail ~ named for a trick she learned while teaching her three children to “cruise.” She learned that placing cheerios on the couch at strategic intervals would keep her children going. She is passionate about spreading the message of hope and “you are not alone” to other weary travelers who need these reminders to take the next baby step on the journey through life.