Day Writing by Heather Hamilton-Maude: The Strong-Willed Child
My mother has a habit of randomly bringing me things when she comes to my house. A set of sheets that fit the size of bed I have but she does not, a box of old pictures, and other random and useful items. This is family trait she inherited from her mother, though she did not get the gene that results in moving a mattress or entire bed every other time she visits any family member. Thankfully.
A year or so ago she arrived at my house with a box of books, all sporting titles along the lines of, “Parenting the strong-willed child.”
This seems like a good place to point out that I have two siblings – a brother and a sister. My mother did not think to take either of them a single book on parenting strong willed children. I was who came to mind when she was ready to part with her box of wisdom on that subject. Perhaps my daughter and I in tandem came to mind, but still worth noting.
Also, if you’re reading this near someone who knew me as a child, I do not recall being quite that stubborn or hard headed. Not quite…
A day or so later, I was rifling through the box. I flipped to a random page and began reading. The subject was how several strong-willed children do not hear the word, “No.” They hear, “Not that way,” or, “Try again,” or “Not at this time, ask me later.”
I have rarely felt more like a piece of text was written for me in all my life, and I shut the book before I stumbled across any other life altering epiphanies. That is exactly how I hear it when someone says no. I have since spent a great deal of time thinking about the fact that, A) Apparently such an interpretation can be challenging to deal with, and B) There are lots of people out there who just accept a no as the end, and never give the subject another thought.
Should you find yourself attempting to parent the strong-willed, fast thinking and speaking kid who does not hear the word no, and does not care what anyone thinks or what repercussions lay on the other side of something they want to do, it will be alright. While sweet, kind, easy going kids are a true joy in life, challenging kids grow you in ways you cannot even imagine.
One day you’ll be beyond it, passing your box of books on to some other mother entering the trenches, ready with all your wisdom to grandparent the next generation of go-getters.
In the meantime, ask your parents for advice when needed. If that doesn’t work, ask your grandparents.
Odds are, if you were a strong-willed kid, your grandparents also survived raising a strong-willed kid.
I’m fairly certain what I actually received was a family legacy box of the research done in raising generation after generation of strong-willed little girls. You better believe I am saving it, and will deliver it along with a box of sheets and other household goods to my daughter someday. Odds are she may need to read something in one of those books, even as an adult.