Jim Daly Christian Blog and Commentary

Parenting the Strong-Willed Child as a Team

  • Jim Daly Jim Daly is president and chief executive officer of Focus on the Family, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping families thrive.
  • 2014 Jun 09

Let’s be honest: Parenting isn’t for the weak – especially when you’re raising a strong-willed child.

It’s not fun when a pint-sized little one defiantly refuses to obey or when a 14-year-old talks back. Our natural instincts want to kick in. It’s all too easy to respond in anger.

My wife, Jean, and I know this well. We have two teenage boys, and one of them is a strong-willed child. It’s interesting to look back over the years and see how he’s impacted Jean and me in different ways.

Parents’ personalities influence their parenting

Jean will admit that she has a strong-willed personality herself. She tends to think in black and white. She’s also very consistent – if she’s baking cookies, for example, she’ll measure out those ingredients with the precision of a scientist.

On the other hand, I’m more laid back. I eyeball the ingredients in my Sunday morning pancakes and I’m more permissive with the boys. When things get tense, I’m more likely to try and diffuse the situation with humor.

Neither Jean nor I are “right.” God created us differently, and those differences are reflected in our parenting styles – and yield different results with our sons.

The challenge all parents have to face is this: how can we sidestep the divisions our personality characteristics might bring into a marriage as raise our boys? How can we be more aware of how our differing styles impact our strong-willed child?

How can we parent as a team?

Looking beyond the stubbornness

Today we start a two-part broadcast, “Parenting the Strong-Willed Child as a Team,” that addresses some of the issues I’ve brought up. On the broadcast, Jean and I talk with Cynthia Tobias, who’s the author of the bestselling book, “You Can’t Make Me (But I Can Be Persuaded).”

I think you’ll be encouraged by the approach we took with the broadcast. As parents, we often joke about our strong-willed kids, but the fact remains that no matter how challenging a child can be to raise, it’s an honor that God entrusts to us. Every child – even the one who can get in trouble when we turn our back for five minutes – is precious and full of potential. Plus, God uses them to grow us as moms and dads.

That’s why we want to talk about this issue not with dread, but with expectation and hope. What leadership or potential is hidden away behind the stubbornness our son or daughter is demonstrating? How will God use this child to mold our hearts? How can these traits that challenge us now be channeled into positive things?

This two-part broadcast will help answer these questions, as well as provide parents with many practical takeaways. I hope you’ll tune in via your local radio station, online or via our free, downloadable mobile phone app.

 Focus on the Family has helped 560,000 parents manage a significant family crisis within the last year alone. Partner with our ministry and join Friends of Family to help us ensure that families have access to Christian counsel and Bible-based resources year-round.

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