She had big cheeks, a confident spirit, and curious little eyes. Eyes that watched everyone and everything. Little did we know that the cuddly little body housed a mammoth size attitude. By month 4, we realized we were in over our head. How we wished that little stinker came with a manual…or at the very least, a return policy!
All joking aside, I was shocked by how set in her ways she was. By four months old, she tried to dictate to us when bedtime was. By twelve months, she ferociously defended her “right” to get her own snacks…whenever she wanted. By eighteen months, she was finding ways to get done what she wanted done. This little lady was quickly “laying down the law”.
This didn’t sit well with us though, since we were trying so hard to present a “Godly little family” to our church. This little lady came prewired with determination and she would be our undoing. For sure she would be the reason we would have to leave ministry!
I can’t say my motive for discipline was always out of patient love. In fact, my discipline was more out of embarrassment and frustration. I wanted to appear Godly. I didn’t want to give anyone a chance to say my husband didn’t have his family “in order”.
In hindsight though, I do think some things worked.
- No matter what Daddy was doing, he made sure that little lady knew he was her daddy, first. If she was having a tough time obeying, he had a conversation with her in his office, privately, no matter her age. She understood that some behavior needed changing and it was going to be the same at home as it was at church.
- Over time, we realized that though strong willed, she really craved boundaries. She wanted to know just how far she could go, how much she could handle, and how much she could accomplish. Her personality was wired to push to us to the max, but she felt a sense of relief knowing the boundaries were unmovable.
- When she asked Jesus into her heart, we celebrated as a family. From this point on, I often prayed that the Holy Spirit would perfectly convict her little heart. I figured if our Heavenly Father knows exactly how to meet and soften my rebellious spirit, doesn’t He also know exactly how to soften hers?
- Let life happen. When life can present a natural consequence, why fight it??? Sometimes we rob our children of the best lesson which comes through the natural cause and effect system that God has put in place. Why stress over finding creative consequences? Let life happen and just be there when they need to problem solve or reflect.
Did she ever outgrow her strong will? Well, she has outgrown the stubborn streak, but not the determined spirit. More importantly though, she has learned that with boundaries, her determined spirit can accomplish much for the Lord!
So maybe a strong willed pastor’s kid can work.