My two boys are incredible. They are extremely intellegent, sweet, active and loving. For example, my little Asher who is 3, puked in the car yesterday (not fun!) and as he walked to the house in clothes drenched in throw up, he stopped to pick me some flowers. But they are also the most strong-willed kids I know. And the fact that they are a year apart doesnt help. They constantly egg each other on in their naughty-ness.
I am more of a thinker than a feeler, so the ignorant comments of parents who have never dealt with a strong-willed child don't bother me that often. But tonight was a different story. Someone had asked how we were going to keep our boys "under control" at an upcoming retreat (as though they are bad 100% of the time and we are totally unsuitable parents) and then asked, completely serious, if he could squirt them with a water bottle if they were bad. Well, the wrath of a mom rose it's ugly head and I said, "you tell him that if he squirts my kids with a water bottle, I will grab it from him and squirt him in the face."
So here I sit, in frusteration and sadness and God meets me through google and Focus On The Family Online Communities. I read and totally related with a lady named Rebekkah. Oh Lord, thank you for Rebekkah! And was totally encouraged by a lady named Susie in response to Rebekah's discouraged heart. If you have strong-willed kids, be encouraged with me at http://www.focusonlinecommunities.com/message/102486
If you are wondering how to encourage moms with strong-willed kids, read below as your example. This turned my discouraged heart into joy. (Another tip, please dont tell me how great that strong-willed attitude is going to be in the future. That is really not encouraging for today and what people think of me and my parenting today.)
"Be encouraged Rebekkah, you are doing a wonderful job. Being a mum is hard work.
I have been in your shoes and I encourage you to continue to be consistent. Don't give up. I know it is hard especailly when you seem to have a 100 pair of eyes condemning you. When you see other kids doing "the right thing"! And behaving so perfectly. Don not allow discouragement and condemnation to consume your heart.
My youngest, Cayden, now 5 years old, lives up to the meaning of his name: Spirit of battle, battle warrior. God in His wisdom gave us Cayden last. He is the youngest of 4. My first three children were easy and obedient. But Cayden has been on the move since he could crawl - climbing out of the pram, out of the cot... Sit still... Not Cayden.
So we have had to be consistent. We've done the parenting classes! We've read the books! We've prayed! We've spanked! We've time-out! We've tried new things! We've cried! And we are getting there. For the most part these days things are wonderful - he is a delightful boy. But it has been a long road and we have experienced the condemnation, interference, wisdom, well meaning advice, judgement, help of others or should I say criticism!!
We had a situation at school assembly this morning - Cayden sat with me for the first 15 mins quietly but when a classmate from Pre-primary (his 5 year old class) came in with his mum he went and sat next to him and they chatted. But his friend went off to play at the playground and Cayden went to follow. I grabbed Cayden and said "NO!" (We are in Western Australia and go to a Christian school in Perth. Our school assembly is held in an undercover area next to the Pre-primary playground. No children are allowed on the playground unless they are at school and supervised by a teacher for insurance reasons.) Well he hit me, yelled, kicking etc and I had to take him around the corner. He continued to call me names and tell me how horrible I was. When he settled down I told him "you know you aren't allowed on the playground.... Mrs Pyke will tell you off.... We are here to see Edward receive his certificate... I know you don't want to be here but can you sit down for the rest of the assembly..."
Well he sat down beautifully for the last ten minutes. After which the mum next to me commented. "His strong willed! He doesn't hit you all the time does he? He better not!". And to Cayden: "Don't you ever hit your mummy again? I won't be happy if I ever see you do that again! And you better be a good boy for the rest of day! I want to hear a good report when I see you this afternoon!" She totally could have praised him for sitting so beautifully for the rest of the assembly!
I spoke to Cayden and he apologised for what he did. But none-the-less that other mothers' words upset me and I spent the rest of the day in tears on and off. And my lttle son well he said "feel sad in my tummy" cried because I was crying!
Sometimes we cannot control our circumstances and situation, but we can be consistent. I spoke to Mrs Pyke (the school principal) and apologised for the disturbance. She hadn't noticed anything. She was wonderful. She reiterated that no one is perfect, that the other parents' comments where unhelpful, that she appreciated my consistency and that I didnt give in to Cayden's demand. As of next week Cayden's class will be going to each school assembly and he "WILL HAVE TO SIT THROUGH THE WHOLE HALF HOUR". He along with his classmates will not be allowed to go to the playground and play, or sit with their mums. Hopefully the last eight months of going to assemblies sitting with me, will help him to do the right thing for his teachers.
Rebekkah don't compare youself or your children to others. Each child is unique and a beautiful gift from God. Our 'strong willed sons' will learn that no matter what they do we will love them. God is also teaching us to look to Him, to trust in Him, to spend to with Him pouring our hearts for our children to Him.
And this time, well it is the training ground, for the future plans God has for them. God has His hands on our sons and He will use them to bring glory to Himself.
They will learn that love is patient. They will learn that love is kind. They will learn that love does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. They will learn that love does not dishonor others. That love is not self-seeking and love is not easily angered. And they will learn that love keeps no record of wrongs. They will learn that love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. They will learn that love always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. And that love Love never fails.
I encourage you to go and pray I Corinthians 13 over your sons. Do it for the next 40 days.
May our Lord richly bless you and your husband today with His love and presence.
Love and joy
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