From the moment she was born, I was certain my daughter Leah would be a strong-willed child. She came into this world screaming and didn’t stop for months! She resisted my efforts to sleep-train, bucked against toddler discipline of any kind and continues to test my patience every. single. day.
Yet despite the enormous amount of sanctification I’ve gone through mothering her, I love her dearly! She is quick to snuggle her baby sister, strong to protect someone from being bullied and sees the needs of others, striving to meet them in a big way.
Slowly, I’ve come to the realization that there is much to be thankful for as a parent of a child who is strong willed. If one of your kiddos seems overly stubborn and high maintenance and tests your patience to the Nth degree, you may be the mom to one of these personality types as well! :) I’d love to encourage you with five reasons to be thankful for the opportunity to mother a strong-willed child!
Five Reasons to Be Thankful For a Strong Willed Child
Through Them We See Our Need for God to Work Out His Patience in Us
I’ll be honest, my first child was a breeze. It could have to do with the fact that he was an only child so he had all my attention, but he rarely cried, slept through the night at a very young age and was generally obedient without much effort on my part. When my oldest daughter came along, I most definitely saw my need for more patience!
I love how the KJV phrases Romans 5: 3-5:
And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; and patience, experience; and experience, hope: and hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.
Hope “does not disappoint us” it says in the NIV. Ironically, our strong-willed daughter’s middle name is Hope! Struggles work patience in us as mothers. Oftentimes we feel as though we are being so incredibly impatient with our kids but truly these are the times that God is using to refine us. Let’s commit our strong-willed children to the Lord and pray that He will take us step by step toward a more patient spirit. As crazy as it sounds, this is an amazing opportunity for God to effect patience in our lives!
P.S. I am STILL learning patience. Always will be, I think! Give yourself grace when you struggle. Meditate on one of these Bible verses about patience–I know they are helpful for me!
Having a Strong-Willed Child Helps Us to Become More Intentional in Our Parenting
**THIS IS THE REASON THAT HAS IMPACTED ME GREATLY
Have you ever felt like you were parenting on auto-pilot? It’s when you feel tired and worn out from dealing with the day-to-day of motherhood so you sort-of “check out” and let things slide. I’ve done this on several occasions, especially on particularly trying days when I am short on sleep and don’t want to keep the two year old from emptying the Tupperware cupboard yet again!
When you have a strong-willed child, it’s an incredible opportunity (like it or not!) to dive into intentional parenting head first! I find that I often seek out more wisdom from Scripture or experienced moms when I come face to face with some strong-willed behavior from any of my four children.
Ephesians 6:4 says “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” I would imagine this applies to mothers too! As we as Christian parents look to God’s Word to teach us how to lovingly guide our children in the way they should go, this produces fruit in the lives of every person in our family!
Strong-Willed Children Have the Great Potential to Become Adults Who are Strong and Steadfast in Their Faith
While our stubborn children test us greatly when they are young, we can help gear this stubbornness in a positive direction! My mom would always remark that since I was so strong-willed as a child that she wasn’t surprised when I grew up to be very goal-oriented and assured and secure in what I believe as a Christian. It’s so important for us not to assume that we have a strong-willed child solely for the purpose of our sanctification (though it can feel that way some days!). We can choose to trust that God created our child with this “bent” for an eternal purpose.
Time wrote an interesting article about why it’s great to have a stubborn child. While I don’t necessarily agree with the “parenting advice” at the end of the post, it offered some good insight into the positive qualities children with this “bent” do have!
How can we turn this stubbornness into a steadfastness for the Lord? We can teach our children Scripture at home and show them how God’s Word relates to our every day lives. We can help them drive their passion into something helpful. Which brings me to my fourth thought….
Strong-Willed Children are Typically Very Enthusiastic and Motivated
Now, I’m not saying that our other children aren’t motivated, not at all! But that it seems as though the strong-willed ones typically possess a great drive and determination that can turn into one of their greatest character traits!
My Leah will come home from her Christian school and tell me about her teacher and that she needs to be encouraged for one reason or another. She makes plans for buying something at the Dollar Tree for her (“She loves pink, Mom! Let’s get her some pink nail polish!), paints her a huge picture and presents the gift with great flourish.
Another time, she’ll decide she wants to save her money for a certain item so she writes down exactly how many chores she’ll need to do for the next year to make enough, while including what she’ll tithe and buy for “kids at the mission” as part of her earnings.
The attention to detail, ability to persevere through difficulties to accomplish goals and enormous amount of energy for the task at hand are some of the best qualities of strong-willed children! Take a moment to notice those qualities in your child and praise them for how God has worked through them! I don’t do that with my kids nearly enough!
Our Strong-Willed Children Teach Us so Much about Selfless Love
I am so thankful that God is continually teaching me selflessness through trying times with my daughter. It’s true that in some ways all children have moments of being strong willed, but it’s hard to be selfish when you have a stubborn child who needs you to constantly and consistently help her understand her emotions and results of her actions.
Maybe you struggle with giving full attention to your children when the need arises and they test you to your limit. After all, this motherhood thing is hard! Fellow moms, let me encourage you that there is so much eternal value in allowing God to change our hearts and help us put our children’s needs above our own, even when it’s hard.
It doesn’t mean that we don’t need “me time” or opportunities to be refreshed but that we begin to more fully understand how to mother in a way that is grace-filled and purpose-driven at the same time.
And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work. 2 Corinthians 9:8
A couple of books I have read that I highly recommend for digging deeper into this aspect of motherhood are The Ministry of Motherhood by Sally Clarkson and The Strong-Willed Child by Dr. James Dobson.
I sincerely pray that what I’ve shared has been helpful to you in refreshing your perspective and giving reasons for thankfulness that are rooted in Scripture. I am always learning in my journey through motherhood, so I want you to know we are in this together!
If you’d like, please share a reason you’re thankful for your strong-willed child in the comments!
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