Grace for the Strong-Willed Child

Originally published Tuesday, 12 May 2015.



Before he was born, I thought our first son was strong-willed.  Just the thought of that ignorant bliss makes me laugh out loud these days.  Numero Uno was not so strong willed…so I’ve found.  

Número Dos, bless his heart, he defines the personality type.  He is the strong-willed child, if ever there was one.  Dr. James Dobson clearly wrote the book just for me.  

This boy, this middle child, is absolutely precious.  His big brown eyes melt my heart.  We live in the middle of town, yet he insists he is a farmer.  He is all-boy {a phrase I’ve never really understood…but whatev} yet he thrives on the “snuggle time” with his Mommy.  He has leadership skills and likes to fascilitate “Family Dinner Games,” around the kitchen table, where he routinely asks, “Okay, your turn.  What is your favorite animal?”  We play this game at least once a week.  No one’s animal ever changes, yet we play…every week.

He is a treasure.  Like all other children, he receives corrections, discipline, and has to be redirected on a daily basis.  Like all other children, he needs praised for making good choices and loving words to reaffirm the positive decisions in his little world!  Like every other sweet kiddo I have taught in a classroom or am raising in our home, he has a unique, God-given personality.  I am so thankful for God’s hand in his little life as I watch him grow and change from a baby to a big boy.  Preschoolers are constantly learning and exploring the world.  Explore, he does!!!  He keeps it real.  

Perhaps the biggest difference in a strong-willed child is what he {or she} requires from his parents.  Those of you with me in this journey, I know you are nodding your heads about now.  Yep.  We know.  We are the parents of Strong-Willed Kiddos.  (That’s a mouth-full.  Can we call them SWIKs for short, friends???  Let’s do!) So, you and I?  We’re parenting these SWIKs and it takes a whole lot of choosing our battles.  It takes a whole lot of standing firm when we need to “win” a battle.  (The SWIKs need brave, strong-willed parents who will take the time to win.  Giving in is tempting…and it is also the absolutely wrong way to parent a SWIK.  Amen?!) It takes more definite boundaries and plenty of proactive parenting like so, “When we leave the zoo today, you will not cry and get angry.  You will be thankful that Mommy and Daddy took you to the zoo.   You will leave the zoo happily when we say it is time to go or you will stay home next time. Yes, Mommy?”  “Yes, Mommy,” he replies…not necessarily in the tone of voice I was desiring…but mission accomplished, nonetheless.  Do you know what would happen without these proactive, preventative conversations with my SWIK?  A melt-down.  That’s what.  I know this to be true from missing many an opportunity to forwarn him about his behavior and oh my heavens.  Lesson learned…at least until the next time that I forget.

Parents of the SWIKs, lean in ever so closely.  The parents of the compliant kiddos (we’ll call them CKs) will never understand.  Let us whisper as to not freak out the CK’s parentals, alrighty?

What the strong-willed child really, really requires?  In large doses?  Packaged with ridiculous amounts of that refining, life-changing, hair-pulling-out patience?  Yeah, you know.  They need grace.


Lots and lots of grace.  Every day, we shall find opportunities to pour it out.  We shall look for ways to lavish the SWIKs with grace.  They need this.  And you know what?  So do we.  As parents of the SWIKs, we need a whole lot of grace up in here!  Pass it on down.  I’ll take a big helping of grace.  Thankfully, God meets us where we are.  His grace is enough.

Say it with me, parents of SWIKs.  

His grace is enough.

I heard a beautifully wise speaker say at the Mother’s Day banquet that she changed her prayers from, “Lord, help me to have more love,” to, “Lord, thank you that you love this person so perfectly.  Help me to love the way You love, Father.”

Perhaps that should be a model for our prayers each day, as we prepare our hearts to parent the SWIKs.  “Lord, thank you that your grace is enough for my child.  Help me to give grace to my child the way You give perfect grace, Father.”

So…when he brings the frog in the house and you tell him he can keep the frog right next to the door for just a few teensy, tiny minutes…and you find the frog on the bathroom sink?  Grace.  Count to ten…and yeah…gonna need a big dose of grace up in here.

Ribbit. God bless the SWIKs…and their mothers.

From my house and heart to yours,  ~Courtney