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? 

Love unconditionally.   

Children need our acceptance, attention, and unconditional love even more than they need correction and discipline. 

Scripture admonishes,

Provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged.” 

Colossians 3:21

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. 

My beautiful daughters are so different, so unique, and so amazing to me!

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!

Raising IN CHARGE Daughters

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?

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42 thoughts on “Raising, Nurturing & Loving In-Charge Daughters

  1. We are preparing to go for a 3 day youth camp sand my husband and I will go with the group. I’m praying for strength to last the 3 days not in our comfort zone and see God’s molding hands on this experience.

    Posted on October 29, 2014 at 3:14 pm
    1. Being stretched out of your comfort zone is never easy… praying your experience will be one of growth and blessing!

      Posted on October 31, 2014 at 2:11 pm
  2. Hi Kristy,

    You are indeed blessed with 2 beautiful girls, they are both so pretty. I’ve also always desired to have a girl for our first born but God instead gave us a precious little man. He was born only 7 months old and I was on total bed rest since his 5 months inside my womb because I was on a critical pregnancy. He was very small at birth weighing only 2.6 lbs. he was full of machines clinging to his body to aid survival of his little body and his newborn diapers are up to his chest. He even seemed to stop breathing for a quick moment but by God’s grace been resuscitated by nurses on duty. I can’t help sharing this story because this time of our lives gave us an opportunity to seek and rely fully on God and a living testimony of His magnificence.

    He was so fragile that we became unarmed on how he is like right now. I used to imagine of having a child who will sit with me during Sundays, who will adorably play around just within my sight, who I can baby sit while reading a book and sipping coffee after a heavy load of work, who will sleep soundly beside me and a whole lot more of warm ideas of having a child. But all these expectations was as opposite as his being boy to a girl 🙂

    While he is not a girl as what you tackled in this blog and is still very young, his characteristics of a strong willed child are akin. He can’t stay in one place not doing anything robust 🙂 within a couple of minutes. He goes around all corners of our church’s kids room on Sundays and will cause other kids to run around too. I definitely can’t do anything restful when baby sitting him because whatever I’m holding, he wants given to him 😀 Putting him to sleep is double as difficult as the house chores since he will notice anything hanging on the wall or his own clutters on the floor. Even with very dim light at night hardly works.

    At first, these all were a very overwhelming challenge for me and my husband since we have no one around to really help us out. But I’m positive that little by little up to this point(he’s 1 year and a half old now) we have lived to it and accepted his restless behavior. My husband is so patient to remind me every so often to not raise my voice or scold immediately as based on experience, it just worsen
    the situation.

    On a positive note, he learns fast, remembers almost 80 % of what is taught of him(letter and animal sounds, numbers etc.) He is indeed a strong willed toddler and there will be more new challenges as he grows but we hope, pray and believe that God will be our guide in everything.

    Thank you for sharing this post, it inspires me even more to embrace my son as he is and cultivate virtues and strengths hidden deep beneath his always busy aura 🙂

    With love,

    Posted on October 29, 2014 at 3:07 pm
  3. You have no idea how this blog series of yours is speaking to me today. I am the mother of a very strong willed daughter — and I think God placed your post in my lap at a point today when I am feeling particularly despondent. It’s so hard to see the fault lying in ourselves — it’s hard to acknowledge, but I do believe you are correct. I’m a Go-To Gal and so is my daughter. {sigh}

    Posted on January 24, 2014 at 3:40 pm
  4. Thank you so much for this series on daughters of this type! I am nodding along and feeling less guilty about what I viewed as my shortcomings with my own daughter. I too am a “take charge” daughter and also have a younger daughter that sits quietly and plays and is eager to please. This article comforts my fears that I can, from this day,work smarter and not harder on our relationship. God bless!

    Posted on January 19, 2014 at 2:04 pm
  5. Thank you so much for sharing these tips. I definitely have an In-charge girl – my firstborn, as is yours! And as an in-charge mama, you are right – we clash often. I so appreciate just simply that someone else understands this struggle! And the tips are so true. In her early years I focused so much on discipline and not enough on capturing her heart. As you can imagine, this only made things worse. Many of the things you suggest I have recognized although struggle to be consistent in doing them! Thanks for the reminder and your encouragement.

    Posted on September 27, 2013 at 8:42 am
  6. Thank you for this! I am expecting my first one now and I’m fully expecting a strong-willed daughter at some point, because I myself was the oldest, take-charge daughter in my family without a doubt. This really encouraged me and is giving me the correct mindset before my children arrive so I can do right from the beginning.

    Posted on March 27, 2013 at 11:56 am
  7. Thank you for this – it touched me so much.

    Posted on February 19, 2013 at 11:00 pm
  8. I could just cry reading part 1 & 2 of this article. It was like reading a story of my life. I am just at a loss with my almost 7 year old daughter. I would love to know more about your resources, books to read, more articles! Even just someone to talk to if you are willing.

    Posted on February 19, 2013 at 3:37 pm
    1. Tammie, please feel free to contact me- I am willing to listen! littlenaturalcottage {at} yahoo.com

      Posted on February 22, 2013 at 1:34 am
  9. Thank you for this! A friend just posted your link on Facebook and after I read it, I had to comment… This is soooo my struggle! Although, as the compliant “easy” child myself, I find her utterly mystifying at times….

    She just turned four and (thinks she) is ready to run the world… 🙂

    Sometimes it’s awesome (Today, at a church dinner, I watched her go and get a paper cup and fill it with water for her little sister who was too short to reach the fountain. No adult intervention necessary. Yay for problem-solving skills and initiative!) but lots of times it’s infuriating (Like when she just decided she didn’t want to go to preschool co-op on Friday, refused to get dressed as a form of protest, and made us late when I was supposed to be leading the opening games! Argh!). And sometimes, it’s downright scary! (When she was not yet 3, we had just moved, the house was in chaos and she had been sick. The previous night I had opened a new bottle of Children’s Tylenol for her fever and when I thought she was napping, she went into the bathroom and decided to “self medicate.” I found her carefully measuring the last teaspoonful and drinking it down. “I sick, Mommy. I have medicine to feel better, OK?” It made perfect sense to her! NOTE: “Childproof” does not apply to any In-Charge Girl past the age of….oh, about 12 months! Where there’s a will, there’s a way!)

    Seriously though, I really appreciated the advice to capture her heart first and foremost… It’s definitely true that things go better when I can get her to see that we’re on the same team! (Now, to figure out how to do that in 30 seconds or less when we’re butting heads and there’s no time for explanation or empathy! ;p~) She’s a “quality time” kind of kid, so I *try* to pick one thing each day for us to do together…sometimes it’s practical–she’ll help me cook or bake–and sometimes it’s a craft (she *loves* stuff like that!) or cuddling on the couch to read together (my favourite thing, because the stories often lead to great conversations even after the “quality time” is done…). It’s hard when there are so many things to do in a day, but when we’ve connected with each other, I find the power struggles aren’t as bad, or at least, I can redirect her more easily or help her see the bigger picture before she completely loses it (because she remembers that she loves and trusts me?).

    I also agree that she should be given as much responsibility as she can reasonably handle. Go To Girls can be super competent! All of her clothes are in drawers that she can access and she’s been dressing herself since she was 2. As long as the clothes are appropriate for the weather or the occasion (no ball gowns for playing in mud puddles, no bare legs in winter…), I let her choose. Her fashion choices have made for some fabulous photo opportunities that I can’t wait to show her when she’s a teenager… 😉 And, yes, I take her out in public like that! 🙂 (I also pray that we instill good values around modesty starting NOW, so that I still feel good about letting her dress herself 10 years from now! ;p~)

    One of the things we’re really struggling with is how to teach her to respect other authority figures in a good and healthy way… She knows she has to listen to Mommy and Daddy but she doesn’t suffer fools gladly, and if she decides that an adult isn’t reasonable or “competent,” she doesn’t want to listen to them. This could be a good thing (she’s not likely to be led astray by a grown up just because they’re an authority figure) but it’s still sort of horrifying to me…and is going to make kindergarten quite the adventure come September, among other things. I already see it at the preschool co-op I’m a part of. Some of the moms are amazing with the kids and my daughter is a model child for them…bright, engaged, respectful, creative, helpful… But if she senses that a mom is ill-prepared or not super-comfortable leading things, then she’s a misery. Either she just checks out and does her own thing or she becomes super clingy or she actively looks for mischief to get into. And now, because of a few bad experiences, she doesn’t even want to go to preschool anymore… And I don’t know if I should push her to continue (for the exact purpose of helping her to learn how to deal with structure and rules being imposed by a grown up she doesn’t necessarily “like”!!!) or should I “pick my battle” and allow her to stop going (it’s not essential that we go… And her assessment that “some of the other moms aren’t very fun” is…true! I can’t argue with her on that point… But why does everything have to be “just so” before she’ll deign to grace us with her presence?! Can’t we just make “good enough” work sometimes?!).

    I wouldn’t trade her for the world, but, as I told my husband recently, “This kid requires my ‘A-Game’ Every. Single. Day.” ;p~

    Posted on February 18, 2013 at 11:13 pm
    1. Re: if she decides that an adult isn’t reasonable or “competent,” she doesn’t want to listen to them
      This is our Go To Girl to a “t”… and I was the same way as a child. I certainly identify with the struggle to teach (and learn!) respect for authorities, especially when they are not perfect (and who is?).
      For me, making sure that I cultivate and display an attitude of respect for others is huge in teaching my daughter to do the same. Other times, I simply have to say, “You know what, So-and-So has faults, just like Mommy does and just like you do, but we still have to respect/obey him or her because they are someone God has put in our lives to help us learn and grow.”
      I find that my Go To Girl is usually open to “talking” and can analyze more facts than my passive daughter, who seems to take the world as it comes without really questioning things. As your daughter grows, don’t be afraid to discuss things with her.

      Posted on February 22, 2013 at 1:39 am
  10. This is wonderful! This applies to my beautiful daughter 100%. Thank you for writing this!

    Posted on February 18, 2013 at 4:30 pm
  11. I read this even though I don’t have any girls (5 boys only) and while I think there is a lot to be gleaned for ANY parent…I wonder how I can translate this into mothering BOYS?? Hmm? Any ideas?

    Posted on February 18, 2013 at 4:27 pm
    1. Kendra, I didn’t mention it in this article, since I was gearing it toward raising daughters, but we also have one VERY strong-willed son. While he is currently only 2 1/2 years old, it’s quite obvious we have a little “Command Man” on our hands! We are using many of the same principles with him as with our In-Charge Daughter. Training at an early age and focusing on the HEART issues are so important in raising these kids!

      Posted on February 18, 2013 at 10:28 pm
  12. Wonderful article! I was an in charge daughter myself. My parents spent 18 years trying to fix me. Praise the Lord for His work in my life. I have a daughter like this also. Many challenges and much to learn here…thanks for the insight!

    Posted on February 18, 2013 at 10:12 am
    1. “Many challenges and much to learn”… I add a hearty “amen” to that, Rebecca!

      Posted on February 18, 2013 at 10:29 pm
  13. i needed this this a.m………

    Posted on February 18, 2013 at 9:44 am
  14. Beautifully put, I have some work to do. thank you.

    Posted on February 18, 2013 at 9:21 am
    1. Thank you for your comment, Annmarie… I certainly have MUCH work to do, as well. Putting these principles into practice on a daily basis is a consistent effort for this mama!

      Posted on February 18, 2013 at 10:30 pm
  15. Wow! You have described my 10yo daughter to a “T”! A very humbling blog post, to be sure. I will reread The Five Love Languages of Children and give my daughter some more responsibilities around the house. Goodness knows I need the help!! Thank you!

    Posted on February 18, 2013 at 9:18 am
    1. I LOVE the book “The Five Love Languages of Children”… I think it will really be a blessing to you!

      Posted on February 18, 2013 at 10:31 pm
  16. My name is Dana and my daughter in charge is Parker. We have been in a battle since she opened her eyes and thanks to this article and the guidance and conviction of the Holy Spirit I now see the light. I am on a mission to steal my baby’s heart. Thank you so much.

    Posted on February 15, 2013 at 2:07 pm
    1. Your comment blessed me SO much, Dana!

      Posted on February 18, 2013 at 10:32 pm
  17. This is a wonderful article that truly humbled me. I thank you for it. Now to make an intentional effort to apply this wisdom and capture the heart of my girl! I look forward to reading more of your observations and advice on the subject. I think this type of personality is very characteristic of most first born children. I just didn’t know how to react in an encouraging, nurturing way. Thus, the clashes ensued. Thank you.

    Posted on February 12, 2013 at 5:45 pm
    1. Thank you for the comment, Elita. I agree with you: this personality is very typical of first-born children.

      Posted on February 18, 2013 at 10:26 pm
  18. I love this article. I am not an In Charge girl but I raised one! Our In Charge daughter brought so much energy and excitement into our home. Every personality type has strengths and weaknesses. It is up to the parent (with God’s help) to help the child cultivate the strengths. If we don’t have God’s wisdom we can provoke the child and bring out the weaknesses.

    I learned that our In Charge daughter responded to positive challenges and rewards much better than threats and punishment. If you get them motivated they can turn the world upside down.

    Kristy, I’m so thrilled that you see the beauty and potential in your In Charge daughter because now you can get a glimpse of what I saw and still see in YOU! Yes, she is so much like you, but to me it is heart warming and exciting to see her blooming as I also see the beautiful, talented, godly wife and momma that you have become. (When you get impatient with her just get out the old home movies!)

    None of us arrive over night. Actually it’s a lifelong process. I’m so thankful that God is patient with us and He sees a beautiful diamond even when we’re in the rough.

    Posted on February 10, 2013 at 10:25 pm
    1. Thank you, Mom… for this comment, and most of all for your example and encouragement as the mama of an In Charge Daughter. The Lord knew I needed one wise (and patient) mother!

      Posted on February 11, 2013 at 12:44 pm
    2. Wow, wonderful wisdom….thank you, too! I have been frustrated because my punishments and threats, etc., etc. have seemed pointless and I have been so discouraged about myself and the state of our relationship (not to mention the future state). I was feeling the same way your daughter felt at one point, like she didn’t like, but certainly loved her daughter. It’s hard when your child is a mirror image of your personality in so many ways. Thanks to both of you and may God continue to bless you both in your ever-growing relationship and as you help and encourage other Mamas. 🙂

      Posted on February 12, 2013 at 5:54 pm
  19. Thank you!! I have had a rough couple of weeks with my daughter. I am so thankful for this series.

    Posted on February 7, 2013 at 11:23 pm
    1. Keep persevering, Lara! We certainly have our rough times, too. 🙂

      Posted on February 7, 2013 at 11:32 pm
  20. Wow. This is definitely my almost-5-year-old daughter. Many thanks for the posting this!

    Posted on February 7, 2013 at 4:45 pm
  21. My husband and I raised a strong willed daughter and it was a challenging process. We did find loving discipline to be important but also learned to enjoy her spunk. One thing we learned was that we fought our battles with her early and she later became our “easiest” child in the youth years. She also became my dearest of female friends and walked a very difficult path of caring for an aging parent with dementia
    with me. She now is a wonderful wife and mother.

    One thing that we found with this daughter and she will attest to it herself that it was not until she came to know the Lord Jesus did her heart really change. We then saw an amazing transformation in her response to discipline and her desire to do what was right.

    Posted on February 7, 2013 at 11:05 am
    1. Thank you so much for sharing this encouraging comment!

      Posted on February 7, 2013 at 11:30 pm
    2. Very encouraging, as well!

      Posted on February 12, 2013 at 5:56 pm
  22. I love this post. My daughter will be one soon, but she’s already showing a very independent and (sometimes) willful spirit. I feel that I will have to refer back to this post at some point. I love how you are respecting who your child is, who God created her to be, and that you are choosing the more difficult path in shaping her personality into one that will glorify God.

    Posted on February 6, 2013 at 10:22 pm
  23. As a developmental psychologist and former Girl Scout leader, I think you are really on the right track here! I was a very shy little girl, and although I’ve become much less shy, at the beginning of my 6 years as a Girl Scout leader I tended to resent the In Charge girls for running all over the shyer ones whose feelings I could more easily understand. Over time, though, I began to see that each girl has her God-given strengths, and it is our role as adults to guide them to use those strengths to help others. It is wonderful, when running a big confusing event, to be able to turn to one girl and say, “Figure out how many people are here, and set up enough chairs for everyone,” and know that she will take charge and make it happen!

    However, in the process of letting an In Charge girl be herself, it is important to make her aware that other people’s selves are important, too, and may have a harder time feeling comfortable. I learned that In Charge girls often are quite empathetic and have NO intention of hurting anyone’s feelings; in fact, they can be incredibly brave at sticking up for correct behavior in the face of peer pressure. So when I saw that a girl was feeling lonely and left out, I would pair her with an In Charge girl for an activity. One on one, the In Charge girl would get to know the quieter girl as an individual and be ready to stick up for her in future, while the quieter girl would become less intimidated by the In Charge girl.

    Posted on February 6, 2013 at 3:27 pm
    1. Thank you for your feedback, Becca! I appreciate the insights, as my younger daughter is definitely a quiet, more passive girl. It’s interesting to see these contrasting personalities complement each other.

      Posted on February 6, 2013 at 4:45 pm
  24. OHHHHHHHH! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! My 4 year-old is just this! Thank you for pointing out that I need to loosen the reigns and have her lead when applicable. Perhaps she is a lot like her mamma! tee hee hee

    Posted on February 6, 2013 at 12:50 pm
    1. Sabrina,
      “Perhaps she is a lot like her mama”… oh yes, I can relate! 🙂 Thank you for commenting!

      Posted on February 6, 2013 at 2:53 pm
  25. I love the point you made in number 5! Let your In-Charge daughter be in charge of something!!! God gave her this nature and as long as you keep channelling it in the right direction, she will turn out to be who God made her to be. Keep up the good work and thank the Lord that He chose you to be her mommy! 🙂

    Posted on February 6, 2013 at 12:44 pm
    1. Yes, Niki, I am VERY glad God chose me to be this girl’s mommy! I would be a very different person without the lessons I have learned in mothering each of my children, but this Go To Gal in particular. It’s very much like looking myself in the mirror every day… I realize I have some work to do on myself!

      Posted on February 6, 2013 at 2:54 pm