The Strong Willed Child x 2

This morning I was on my 100th time of pulling a child off the table where he was standing and saying no climbing on the table only to turn around and have to go get my other one off the riding push toy that he was standing on and say we sit not stand.  This has been going on for one week now & it seems daunting to think that this is a phase that might last for several months.

We are in a play group and while one kid does push the others on occasion,  generally the kids sit down to read books, play well with others, come when asked most of the time, take turns when asked to share and generally respond to mom’s command of no.  Then I look at my boys and I don’t think they even get the concept of no.  Before you say, well follow no up with action, I do follow with consequences but this does not seem to be deterring the twins.  I find myself chuckling when friends say they have a strong-willed child and yet their child minds a good portion of the time.  I frequently ask why God gave me two strong-willed boys at the same time.

Then this morning my best friend sent me a link to the following post from Proverbs 31 Ministries.  I thought this was appropriate to post, since I think there are other moms out there feeling the same way.   And maybe, like me, my playgroup moms might feel like their kids are the ones out of control and mine are well-behaved, but from my perspective, it’s mine that are troublesome.  So here is some encouragement to moms like me.

Lysa TerKeurst March 15, 2012I Don’t Want to Raise a Good Child
Lysa TerKeurst

“Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.” Proverbs 22:6 (NIV 1984)

My daughter, Hope, is a senior this year. And she decided her senior year should be adventurous and a little out of the “normal” box. A lot out of the box actually.

She withdrew from traditional school. Applied with the state to homeschool. Enrolled in online college courses that would allow her to get both high school and college credit simultaneously. And planned to spend the month of January serving in Nicaragua doing missions.

This didn’t surprise me really. Hope has always liked charting her own course. This thrills me now. But it didn’t thrill me so much in the early years of raising this strong-spirited child.

When she was really little I was scared to death I was the world’s worst mom, because Hope was never one to be contained. And I honestly thought all her extra tenacity was a sign of my poor mothering.

One day I took her to the mall to meet several of my friends with toddlers to grab lunch. All of their kids sat quietly eating cheerios in their strollers. They shined their halos and quoted Bible verses and used tissues to wipe their notes.

Not Hope.

She was infuriated by my insistence she stay in her stroller. So, when I turned away for a split second to place our lunch order, she wiggled free. She stripped off all her clothes. She ran across the food court. And jumped in the fountain in the center of the mall.

Really, nothing makes the mother of a toddler feel more incapable than seeing her naked child splashing in the mall fountain. Except maybe that toddler refusing to get out and said mother having to also get into the fountain.

I cried all the way home.

Not because of what she’d done that day. But rather because of how she was everyday. So determined. So independent. So insistent.

I would beg God to show me how to raise a good child. One that stayed in her stroller. One that other people would comment about how wonderfully behaved she was. One that made me look good.

But God seemed so slow to answer those prayers. So, over the years, I changed my prayer. “God help me to raise Hope to be who You want her to be.” Emphasis on, “God HELP ME!”

I think I changed my prayers for her because God started to change my heart. I sensed He had a different plan in mind for my mothering of Hope.

Maybe God’s goal wasn’t for me to raise a good rule-following child. God’s goal was for me to raise a God-following adult. An adult just determined and independent and insistent enough to fulfill a purpose He had in mind all along.

Today’s key verse reminds us we are training children so that when they are old they will not turn away from Biblical principles, but rather implement them in their life-long pursuit of God. Remember, the things that might aggravate you about your child today, might be the very things when matured that make them great for God’s kingdom tomorrow.

I’ve certainly seen this in raising Hope.

I don’t know what mama needs to hear this today. But let me encourage you from the bottom of my heart with three simple mothering perspectives you must hang on to:

1. Don’t take too much credit for their good.
2. Don’t take too much credit for their bad.
3. Don’t try to raise a good child. Raise a God-following adult.

And all the mamas of fountain dancing children said, “Amen!”