I am a mother of a strong-willed child. This I have always known but I haven't always known how to handle it.
Oh, we've tried through the years with wavering success. But as the years go by, the strength only seems to grow and increase, not diminish.
As a mother of a strong-willed child I often feel FEAR.
Fear that the strength of her will, may eventually lead her down paths of destruction - that will break her and prevent her from fulfilling her dreams.
Fear that somehow my inability to communicate with her will one day make her despise me.
Fear that if I ever did successfully "break her will" and make it easily bend to mine, I would break one of the most beautiful things that make her who she is as a person.
I knew that her tenacity was a gift, is a gift. But when I saw her tenacity robbing her, for seemingly insignificant causes, I was desperate to find answers. I also often found myself becoming someone I didn't want to be - so easily and too quickly. It didn't matter how long I prayed in the morning, nor how determined I was to be calm, patient and peaceful. In a blink of an eye, we would spiral together head-first into the battle of wills over what seemed like "nothing" to me. At the end, I would be left exhausted and feeling even more defeated, even if I did "win."
Yesterday, I read the "Tower of Babel" where the Lord had caused confusion to languages to cause separation among the people. This is how I felt, day in and day out. That my daughter and I were speaking different languages and it was causing separation.
I needed an interpreter.
God always amazes me, how he drops in answers to years of prayer, in small, insignificant ways. So small you almost miss it, yet a gift so powerful, that after you open it, you might never be the same.
An email came across from a co-worker, "Oh, if you have a strong-willed child try Cynthia Tobias."
Okay, I'll write myself a note to look into it.
An incident. Exhaustion.
Okay, I'll order the book from the library.
Another incident. Despair.
Okay, I'll pick the book up from the library and read it.
Then, hope came flooding in through the doors. In a beautiful, life-giving way, my hope is being renewed through the book, YOU CAN'T MAKE ME" (but I can be persuaded).
In my initial reading of the book, I feel like I am being taught another language. I also feel that I am being understood. I am seeing that I am not alone in this challenge. And I am having the truths, that I've known and believed being fulfilled, while at the same time having my fears calmed.
She says that if you have a strong-willed child, you've probably known it since before they were 18 months old. Um, yes! No one would believe me back then. As we arrived places with her dressed in outrageous, mismatched outfits people would ask why I would let a child that young dress herself. Why? Because it wasn't worth the fight.
In grace, Cynthia tells stories of the very fears that I daily carry in my mind: that my daughter did have the potential of giving up dreams, for the sake of digging in her heels for an unworthy cause. She also asked, "What cost are you willing to pay to have 'pure obedience?'"(Her heart?) Finally, she pointed out that I could very well lose my daughter's heart.
But the weight of those words were couched in the buoyancy of the opposite truth: that it didn't have to be that way. Yes, as I knew, God had created my daughter with a huge heart, that can change the world. And that we need people with strong wills that are not willing to back down, no matter, what the cost. She also showed me, as I knew, that all my daughter wants in the end, is my love. So taking time to learn to speak to her in her language will pay off in the end.
Most of the time I am not trying to annoy you. I just want you
to appreciate my uniqueness. I want you to see me
and love me no matter what.
(I forgot to write down the page #)
So that is my confession: I have failed multiple times with my daughter and I know I will continue to fail. But I also see that there is a better way. However, I hope to change our spiraling into dancing; to watch my daughter glow in the joy of her gifts and strengths, as she takes on the world with her unbreakable spirit.
Maybe I am not alone, so that is why I share. If you too are a parent of a strong-willed child, take the time to read, to learn and to understand their language. Perhaps, Cynthia Tobias can renew hope for you, as well.
P.S. This is a recommendation, purely from my heart. I was not paid nor given this book for this review.