Raising, Nurturing & Loving In-Charge Daughters | part 2 |originally published February 2013
Read part one of Raising In Charge Daughters here, if you missed it.
I am a strong-willed daughter.
I am the mother of a few strong-willed children, including a creative, adventurous, free-spirited girl.
If you are struggling to raise, nurture and love a strong-willed daughter, let me quickly tell you: you will never effectively raise, nurture and love until you accept her.
For me, the first step was accepting myself.
Accept Who She Was Created to Be
Five years ago, I stood in the laundry room of the tiny rent house our family was living in, listening to my friend Niki. (The laundry room was the only place in the house quiet enough to talk on the phone!)
As my friend poured into me exciting truths she was learning about personalities, and how it was changing the dynamics of her family relationships, my heart twisted a little.
“I’ve never really liked my personality,” I admitted. “I’ve always felt like my strong personality isn’t, well, I just don’t like it.”
“Kristy, your personality is a gift from God,” Niki said emphatically. “In fact, it’s a reflection of His nature. You were created in the image of God, and that includes your personality!”
I felt tears spring into my eyes. As Niki’s words absorbed into my heart, it felt like a missing piece of who I am suddenly “clicked” into place.
It’s okay to be who I am. To be who God created me to be. I am growing, changing into a better woman. But He made me to be ME!
I was thirty years old before I really understood and embraced the “strong” side of me.
And that had to happen before I was ever capable of loving and accepting my strong-willed children (particularly my daughter, because she is such my little mirror!).
If you’ve ever fallen into the trap of labeling your strong-willed children, stop.
Ask God to renew your mind and change your heart. Ask Him to show you His perspective of that precious child.
And, if you’re like me and you struggle to accept aspects of your own identity, ask your Heavenly Father to show you His perspective of you, as well.
The problem might be your attitude, not your daughter’s.
This really hit home for me a few years ago. I remember opening a book or magazine (I can’t remember which) and a statement literally jumping off the page and grabbing me:
“If you are having trouble with your child, be assured that he or she is definitely having trouble with you too!”
The thought had never occured to me that my little girl might be as exasperated with her mother as I was with her! When I started being honest with myself, I realized that my expectations of her were unattainably high.
Am I being as unselfish and kind at home as I expect my daughter to be?
Do I allow harsh words and criticism to fly out of my mouth? How do I expect my children to respond to this?
Am I choosing joy and gratitude? How are my attitudes reflected back at me through the attitudes of my kids?
It’s pretty easy to slip into discipline mode with our children, especially the willful ones who seem to give us the most trouble.
But let’s be honest: does your daughter have a bad attitude, or do you?
Children need our acceptance, attention, and unconditional love even more than they need correction and discipline.
Provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged.”
Another translations renders this verse, “Do not over correct your children.”
As a mother, the Lord has convicted me many times of having a critical, negative spirit toward my children.
Embracing the undeserved grace and love of my Heavenly Father,
and seeking to pour that grace and love into my children,
was another step in the right direction.
My spirited little girl needs her mama’s approval and unconditional love.
Influence is earned through relationship.
When our children are small, managing behavior and exerting control is relatively easy. The test comes when our kids grow old enough to make their own choices.
And, for strong-willed kids, that need for autonomy comes much earlier than we might prefer.
We can demand respect, punish behavior, and seek to control our kids… or we can pursue their hearts.
Obedience can be demanded, but influence must be earned.
Personally, I want to be the kind of mom who influences my children, not simply manages and controls behavior.
The ground for this kind of influence is relationship: unconditional love, affirmation, time spent together having fun and just enjoying getting to know this child for who she is.
Your In Charge Girl needs to be in charge of something.
I distinctly remember the desperate need to feel autonomous, to have a sense of identity and control over my life.
For us In-Charge girls, the battle may be over what clothes we will wear on a particular day, what food we will or will not eat, or what time we’ll go to bed. And yes, toddler In-Charge girls fight these battles just as quickly as teenage girls!
Go To girls are bossy, which drives us all crazy. But do you realize that our bossy-ness is simply the flip-side of a strength in character?
Bossy, Go To Girls were born to be in charge of something. If our energy and spirit is channeled in the right direction, we very often grow up to be creative, competent entrepreneurs and productive members of society.
These are the gals who amaze everyone at how much they manage to accomplish.
The woman described in Proverbs chapter thirty-one was very likely an In Charge gal. While she was praised above all for her virtuous character, the list of her accomplishments is quite impressive!
The seeds of your In Charge Daughter’s character may very well lie hidden in the raw material of her strong will. Cultivate it!
Mama, get creative and think of ways for your In Charge girl to “take the reigns” in appropriate areas of life.
Let her fix her own hair, pick out her own clothes, plan her own birthday party, decorate her own room.
Chances are she will need a little guidance as she grows in responsibility and life experience, but be careful not to hold your standards so high that she grows discouraged.
Let her show herself useful and productive at something she loves, and I guarantee she will shine!
As a strong-willed daughter, and as the mother of a few strong-willed kids, I hope something you read here today encouraged you.
Motherhood isn’t easy. It’s a walk of faith. It’s the path of sanctification, self discovery, and self sacrifice.
The good news is, we have an infinitely wise, loving Heavenly Father who has promised to give us wisdom along every step of the journey.
What is your biggest challenge- or success- in raising an In Charge girl?
Kristy Howard is a pastor’s wife, second-generation homeschooling mom of five, and a passionate believer in friendship, coffee, and quiet time! Kristy writes about motherhood, ministry and life at KristysCottage.com.