Am I being a little dramatic? Maybe. But if you have a strong-willed child, you understand the drama that permeates each day. Our spirited three year old asserted her opinion from the moment she exited the womb and continues to have her own ideas about everything, from the wrinkle in her sock, to color of straw she wants, to the direction I sit on the swing, to the speed at which I walk down the stairs, to who opens the door, and so on throughout the day. It's exxxxhaaaauuuuusting. Adeline's the product of two strong-willed parents and she certainly got a double dose!
Despite the double dose of type-A persona, Adeline has the most tender heart. She continually awes me with her kindness and concern for others. However between the struggle of being three and a strong-willed nature, epic meltdowns often overrule her compassionate side. The episode I spoke about above all started when Addie wanted to wear her pajamas to a museum. When given the choice between two other appropriate outfits, she completely lost control. Cue screaming, hitting, kicking, and desperate sobbing. We tried to handle the tantrum and failed. In truth, I think we all lost control of the situation. I felt helpless. My role as her mama is to love, guide, teach, and discipline. But when none of those are working, I need to remember my first role as a mom--prayer warrior.
Through hearing the success story of another Christian mother, I've been laying hands in prayer on our daughter while she sleeps, asking God to break her strong-will, but not her strong-spirit. When I spend quiet time with the Lord during the day, I ask for His guidance in disciplining her in a way that glorifies Him and is effective for her unique personality. I think Adeline's epic tantrum was the beginning of God's answers to my prayer for a more successful parenting approach for our strong-willed child.
After Adeline's meltdown, I spent the next couple weeks researching and learning about effective parenting strategies, and through a culmination of sources, I've discovered some parenting magic. (More to come on that in a future post.) But where my recent revised parenting journey started was in desperate prayer and THANKS, the night of Adeline's tantrum. God allowed me to reach my breaking point before I began to really search for the answers. As my mom reads this, I can hear her assuring me: "You're being too hard on yourself; you guys are doing a great job as parents." We certainly make a diligent effort to parent well, but as a disciple of Christ I want to do the best job I can to glorify Him, and I wasn't feeling that to be true. I needed more of His heart in my parenting choices. As I put my hands on Adeline, fell to my knees, and looked at her angelic face that night, I was surprised by the feelings welling up in my soul. Instead of frustration, exhaustion, and bitterness, I was overwhelmed with thankfulness for my wonderfully and fearfully made child. My prayer went something like this...
Thank you for giving me the blessing of raising this child. My heart is overwhelmed with love for my perfectly designed daughter. She was made in Your image and I am constantly in awe of Your creation. God, I cannot wait to see what your plan is for Adeline's life! The strong-will that fights to control her, once harnessed, will be simply unstoppable in spreading Your Word, Your works, and Your love. This place needs HER! It's going to require a woman who will say "no" to the world, and "yes" to Your will. You have designed her with a rare strength, giving her the capability to endure until her mission (Your mission) is fulfilled. I can only begin to fathom how You will use her to glorify You. I fully understand that you have designed her intentionally for a purpose that I do not yet know. But, Lord, I know this is all worth it! You have given me the joy of raising her so that she can serve You. I have been blessed with the task of shaping her will and encouraging her spirit, God. And for that I am eternally grateful. She has the heart of a warrior and I am in awe of this little three year old. Her perseverance, her courage, her passion, her competitiveness...it's hard right now, Lord. You know I'm struggling to find the patience and gentleness to teach her as you would have me. But God, I know she needs those exact qualities to change this nation, this planet. With a heart for Jesus, she will set this world on fire with the message of Your love and grace. There is nothing she will not be be able to accomplish with the Holy Spirit. In Your design you have given Adeline such an intentional juxtaposition, the perfect complement to her drive. I praise you for her thoughtfulness and compassion, one that far exceeds her years. I admire how in tune she is to others' emotions and how attentive she is to caring for people. She has the most gentle soul and has a genuine heart for serving others. God, she is such a prayer warrior already, at three! My heart swells at what she will be able to accomplish through prayer alone. Thank you for giving me this child to raise in Your name. God, please show me how to love and discipline her in a way that raises up Your name. Put the resources in my path that will give me the help I seek. You are faithful and I trust Your plan. Thank you for this sweet, sweet child, Lord. She is perfect, in You. In Jesus' precious name I pray, Amen.
P.S. God answered my earnest prayer and I devised a new "parenting plan" that is working wonders! I'll share that with you soon...