My little girl…she has a firecracker personality.
As an infant, she was big kid trapped in a baby’s body, who refused to conform to baby expectations.
She defiantly resisted baby norms of sitting calmly in a stroller, or bouncing and cooing gently on my lap at a restaurant, or quietly playing with a baby toy.
No, this child has always wanted to be free from straps and confines and rules.
She wanted to be free from expectations of the other babies sitting happily in a shopping cart at the grocery store, and instead demanded to be carried on my hip while I ungracefully maneuvered a full cart with one hand.
And if I didn’t comply?
Well, everyone else in the store, or at the restaurant, or even at our family dinner table paid the price. After all, she had learned — at 6 months old no less — the power of a high-pitched squeal. It was the kind of scream that could make dogs in China howl and the kind that made your ears ring afterward.
She had learned that making noise meant action and a swift change of circumstances with anybody in her presence.
Yes. I was raising a strong-willed baby who desperately wanted to be set free.
And I was a mother who wanted to let her be set free. I desired to indulge her need to be independent and explore her world.
But I was also a mother who knew she still needed to know it was okay to be little and to be vulnerable, and to relax in my authority.
And as she has grown, I have needed to teach boundaries and self control. She has needed to understand that I am in charge because I love her and take good care of her.
With a strong-willed child, it’s always a push and pull.
There’s a push for independence and to be heard, but there’s also a strong pull for the security of an even stronger authority who shows grace and chases away moments of self doubt and anger, and the overwhelming feelings of rage and fury.
Oh, I wish I could say that I have always been a perfect example of that authority.
And while I have tried, I have fallen short. At times I have lost my patience and reacted to her strong emotions.
But I have also shown her the power of forgiveness and pointed her to the true authority in her life —
the God that will guide and comfort and lead her in all of her independent pursuits;
the God who is the perfect example of gentleness and greatness.
With God as her ultimate authority, my daughter’s strong-will can be used to bless and encourage, not demand and control.
She will grow to understand that her gentle voice - not her scream - can be used to change the world in a powerful way.
Her independent thinking and boldness - not her tantrums - will help others. Those qualities will guide people toward goodness and truth.
And she will know that I am always there, ready to comfort her when she is upset, hold her when she feels afraid, and cheer her on when she faces self doubt.
Because behind every strong-willed child is a precious, vulnerable soul who needs to know that he/she is exactly who they were meant to be.
After all, my daughter is loved and she is cherished…firecracker personality and all.