Friday, May 8, 2015

Have mercy on me, oh Lord! When your strong willed child is just like.... you.

He wanted to do the laundry...himself.
I was never told I was strong willed.  NEVER.  I thought those kind of kids were the rebellious ones, the trouble makers, the kids who were constantly getting grounded and were defiant with their parents in public.  I was always the A student, the best behaved little girl in class who never had to sit out during recess, and though I got lots of spankings for mostly sibling related offenses as a child, I was never labeled as a "problem child", at least to my face!
However, when I see one of my sons, I see me done all over again.  His stubborn determination, will to do it HIS way or else, and persistence to carry through every one of his plans whether they are allowed or not by his parents are a direct representation of his mom's genes.  I read somewhere that the child who is the most like us is the one we will have the most problems raising.  It can't be more true in my case.  This kid has caused me more anxiety, migraines, embarrassment, junk food binges and fits of rage than my other three kids put together!  In addition to the strong willed character, he is also hyperactive, highly emotional. and seems to have the characteristics of a child with ADHD.  When, out of curiosity, I recently took the test for adult ADHD, guess what?  Yep, just like my boy.
I asked my mom recently "Was I a strong-willed child?" and she laughed and said "Well yeah, of course you were!".
So how on earth did I turn out OK?  I look at this child and have thought many times "He's going to be the one I blow it on".  I really think that a lot.  I feel like I can't get control of him.  He repeats offenses over, and over, and over and probably outgrows bad behaviors before he's corrected enough to learn they aren't good ones!  For example, for 6 months this child at 3 1/2 years old would poop his pants, put the contents in the toilet and flush it, then clean up the evidence and change clothes.  The only way I knew what had happened was when I did laundry a few days later.  Why go through so much effort when you can just go to the toilet?!  He had control, that's why.  Then there's the period when he would climb all over the countertops by scaling them, starting at 12 months old (I have photos to prove it) just to investigate what food was up there.  He didn't want to ask because then he wouldn't have control.  He will only do work in school that fits his interests.  No bribe, reward, punishment, or praise will change his mind.  However, when he sets his mind to learn it, there's nothing he can't master.
When I read what I just typed, I shake my head.  That's me.  I'm raising a mini-me.  Alright, I don't think I've ever pooped my pants to have control, but you get the idea.  Let's not start any nasty rumors about me now.
So why does God want to punish me with....me?

Well, I think He's trying to teach me something.  Go figure.

When one strong willed person tries to lead another strong willed person, sparks fly.  It doesn't matter if one's a parent and the other's a child, they will butt heads constantly.
A strong willed person wants to be respected and given a choice.  When they feel boxed in and oppressed, unable to use their ideas, determination, and desires, they explode.  I think I've done that once or twice, or hmmm....maybe one hundred times?


I need to model to my son that no matter how strong willed I am, I must yield.  Yield to God, yield to my husband, yield to the authorities God has placed over me, and sometimes, when appropriate, even yield to his desires.  If his character is to become like Christ, He must learn that like Christ He must submit to his Father's will:

Philippians 2:5-8: Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.  And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death--even death on a cross! 

Obedient to death...now that is true submission.  Would I really lay down my desires to that degree?  If I want to be like Jesus, I must be willing to.

Our kids will only learn by the example put before them.  If I want my kid to turn out "right" I need to change my heart as well.  For those strong willed parents out there, I know.   It is stinking hard.  It is a battle of the heart versus the instinctive desire inherent within us to do it "our own way" (I have been labeled many a time as a girl who does just that!).  It is a battlefield that we must hand over to God so in turn, the precious ones He has entrusted to us will follow in our steps and do the same.

Those kids.  They always point out the worst in us.  But praise God- they are pointing us to more sanctification!

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