Parenting the Strong-Willed Child
Key Verse to Read and Treasure
Samson went down to Timnah, and at Timnah he saw one of the daughters of the Philistines. Then he came up and told his father and mother, I saw one of the daughters of the Philistines at Timnah. Now get her for me as my wife.” But his father and mother said to him, “Is there not a woman among the daughters of your relatives, or among all our people, that you must go to take a wife from the uncircumcised Philistines?” But Samson said to how father, “Get her for me, for she is right to my eyes.” (Judges 14:1-3, ESV)
Samson’s parents had done everything right in raising their son but apparently Samson was very strong-willed and determined. How many times his parents must have questioned their parenting skills and been saddened that their son grew up to be so stubborn and hard-headed. As you read Samson’s story in Judges 13-16 you know although Samson had strong-willed tendencies, he died a hero. God was still able to use him for his glory and Israel’s good.
If we want sound advice on parenting the strong-willed child, the foremost authority and expert on this matter is God. God is not only our creator but our Heavenly Father.
A strong-willed child is defined as one who is born with the temperament and personality traits contributing to qualities or characteristics such as having exuberance, determination, independence, outspokenness and, at times, highly emotional and irritability. Other characteristics may be intense angry outbursts demanding to know “why”, bossiness, impatience to comply, having selective hearing, a sense of entitlement, making their own rules, anger, stubborn, argumentative, and moving at their own pace. These traits can show up at a very early age, as quickly as infancy and childhood. If you ‘re raising a strong-willed child, you are not sitting around wondering if they are, you know it right away as you parent them.
Strong-willed children are not “bad” children, just very determined and they need wise parenting. Though their determinations can be admired in the right situations they can try a parent’s patience. It’s tempting to want to “crush” their spirit” break them down like a wild horse is broken for riding, but it’s better in the long run to help them learn how to channel their energy in a positive way.
Why is God the foremost authority and best counsel for raising a strong-willed child? Perhaps, because God has had so much experience doing so. While you may have been subconsciously or consciously checking off the traits and characteristics that apply to your child presently or in the past, God may have been shaking his head in agreement. Not about your child, but about you. As you study the characteristics and traits of a strong-willed child, which ones have you demonstrated in your relationship with your heavenly Father? Have you
Been exuberant, determined, independent, outspoken and, at times, highly emotional and irritable? What about given to intensely angry outbursts, demanding to know “why”, bossiness toward God or the Holy Spirit? Impatient, reluctant to comply, had selective hearing, a sense of entitlement, making your own rules, stubborn, argumentative, and moving at your own pace?
Thank goodness our heavenly Father does not desire to break, hurt, or discourage us. Strong-will or not. He knows we not only have lots to learn, but lots to offer and just need strong, consistent, wise parenting so that how we have been remade in his image can shine through.
You might be surprised at how many strong-willed people we now call Bible heroes and people of great faith are those who exhibited and started out being strong-willed and God wisely helped them channel their energy in a positive way. Solomon, the wisest king, Moses, the Lawgiver and leader of the Israelites, Noah, Peter, Jonah, and Paul who started out as Saul, and there are many others. Think of how many strong-willed characteristics and traits our Savior, Jesus had. He was not strong-willed against his heavenly Father, he was not resistant to God’s parenting, but used his strong-willed nature for our good as he stood firm and was determined against his enemies.
The stories of those who are strong-willed can inspire and remind us that God sees admirable traits in those that are strong-willed which is why he does not desire to break or crush them or any of us because our flaws and challenging parts can also be the very thing that will serve God the best.
If you have a strong-willed child, or, if you are still that strong-willed child when it comes to following and listening to God, be encouraged. Begin to look at the good qualities, pray that God will shape that child or yourself into the person he wants them or you to be and thank him in advance for the ways he will use them and you to his glory. Let’s Pray,
Father in heaven, at some point all of us have been those strong-willed children. Help those who are raising strong-willed children, so they can parent wisely and help those of us who are strong-willed against you to be at peace with submitting to your authority and receive your parenting graciously. Amen
Am I one of God’s strong-willed children? Do I need to confess my self-determination and resistance to God’s parenting? How has my being strong-willed worked for or against me? How do I need to pray?
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