My daughter is beautiful, strong, funny, and smart. She is also headstrong, stubborn, strong-willed, independent, and defiant. I do not say those things lightly. I love my daughter more than words could ever express. I look at her and my whole body aches with the love I have for her. But, she is a challenging child.
I once had a friend tell me there is the strong-willed child, and then there is my child: Steps above the rest.
I am not so arrogant as to think I have it worse than anybody else and that nobody else has problems with their children. I believe the opposite, in fact, is true. I believe there are many good parents that are struggling with how to best discipline their child or children. I believe there are many of you with the same struggles. I believe many of you feel like you are failing or that you are not a good parent. I believe many of you are like me, and sometimes you just do not know what to do. I am not making excuses or justifying any type of defiant behavior.
I know I am not alone though.
I know there are parents afraid to ask for help, afraid of being judged, afraid of what others may think, afraid of being labeled a bad parent. I know this because I am one of them. I want what is best for my child. I want to help her in any way possible. I honestly do not know if her behavior is normal. That terrifies me. My daughter is only four. I am not sure what is to be expected of her age and what is above the norm. No amount of comparing or reading has helped me understand this better. I ask her to do something and she does the opposite. She breaks down into tantrums over the smallest things: An ant in her path, not getting to watch another cartoon, the peas on the wrong side of the plate, etc. She will be sweet and helpful and kind one minute, and the next minute is having a monumental meltdown over what seems to me to be nothing.
My daughter is independent.
She wants to do things by herself and her way only. She does not always answer questions and sometimes she ignores us. Like I said, these may be normal behaviors. Before you start judging me and jumping to ill-informed assumptions, know that we have tried many different discipline methods. Are we consistent all the time? No. Do we lose our temper? Yes. Before you throw the first stone though, can you honestly say you are consistent all the time and that you never lose your temper? Very few consequences affect our child. There are no warnings with our daughter. You give her an inch and she will take ten yards. I am not exaggerating and I am not making excuses. I am not trying to sound harsh.
I am simply saying that what you see on the outside does not define everything we say and do, and everything my daughter is and can be.
A picture is not often worth a thousand words. I hope and pray that many of these strong traits will serve my daughter well in life. We love her unconditionally. I love her all the time and I tell her I love her all the time. I was hesitant to even write this post as I know the thoughts and judgments, and well-meaning, but unsolicited advice people dole out on a regular basis. And it is a very personal topic for us. My child’s behavior is something we have been struggling with on and off for about a year now. I do not know or understand the possible reasons. I could theorize and contemplate all day, but I am not a licensed therapist. I am just a mom trying to do her best. My husband is just a dad trying to do his best. I am here to ask you to not judge or give unsolicited advice. You have not been in that other person’s shoes. You can never truly walk in the other person’s shoes. Not completely. We all have different life experiences, values and expectations that shape and mold who we are.
Parenting is hard; it is not an exact science.
It truly is one of the hardest jobs that you will ever do. The responsibility and pressure exist to raise a loving and kind child, to keep our children safe and teach them all life can be and yet to shield them, to some extent, from the evils of this world. It is daunting. I do believe that God does not give us more than we can handle and He does not want us to parent alone. It takes a community, whatever that community looks like for you.
Do not be afraid to seek out professional help or speak with your pediatrician. If anything, just being able to talk to someone without judgment or bias can be helpful. I am not saying to immediately diagnose your kid with a behavioral disorder. I am saying to seek help. Seek out help and know that you are doing everything in your power to help your child become the loving, functional adult that they can be. At the end of the day, our job is to raise our kids to be loving and kind and to contribute to society in some positive way.