A long, long time ago in an 80’s themed galaxy far away, lived a little version of me. A stubborn, strong-willed Padawan, who wanted to join the rebellion against the empire known as “Mommy” and rule space- or at least my own planet.
How did Emperor Mommy strike back?
She used THE CURSE! The dreaded mom curse that meant that one day, I would have a child. Just. Like. Me. A very strong-willed child.
The Force Awakens
I have three children. My oldest is now thirteen and we’ve had many, many power struggles. Tantrums over which pair of shoes she wanted to wear. Tears because I gave her the wrong colored sippy cup. Meltdowns because I had the nerve to push the close button on the van door instead of her.
So I dealt with it. As a wookie parent and strong-willed person, myself, I went into battle. I activated my metaphorical light saber prepared to lose a limb in order to prove my point.
“I…am…your…mother. And you will do as I say!”
It was messy. I won the battles, but didn’t like the darkness I felt inside. I didn’t like yelling all of the time. I looked in the mirror and saw an angry menace. I wanted my daughter’s respect, but not at the cost of our relationship. I didn’t want to break her spirit. She had so many gifts.
I just needed her to go with the flow and not give me such a hard time…all of the time! Did she need to be so strong-willed?!
Jedi Knight Training
“You must unlearn what you have learned.” – Yoda
One of the beautiful aspects of becoming a parent is how it can humble you and allow you to heal from your past (if you’re brave enough) simultaneously. Realizing that my method was not working, I sought the help of veteran moms. Mom’s who’d been on the X-wing and back.
They helped me to see that giving my strong-willed child more choices could help me avoid explosive behavior. Making her think and feel she had more control in her life was just the “mind trick” that I needed to keep the peace. Well, most of the time.
I also had to learn to choose my battles wisely.
Do you know what happens when you don’t learn a lesson the first time? That’s right. You’re confronted with the same issue again.
Back to Episode One
Just the other week, I was having an argument with my 6 year old son because he didn’t want to brush his teeth until after he had changed into his outfit for the day. He’d just washed his hands after going potty, so it made more sense for him to hang out at the sink a while longer to brush his teeth.
Nope. He had to change first. I was not in the mood to explain all of the reasons why he should just brush them now. How he could stain his shirt with toothpaste, what a bummer it would be and so forth. We were running late, so I chose to be firm. The battle was on.
My strong willed boy fought hard before he eventually did as he was told, however, I knew that I could’ve handled things differently to set a better tone for the day.
Like you, I don’t have all of the answers. I’m an ordinary mom with a good amount of parenting experience under my belt, yet I still need help.
I called on some loving mamas in the trenches and received so many encouraging words. They offered me some great resources, books to read and even a local professional. They reminded me that I am neither the first nor will I be the last Jedi mama to struggle to be a candle versus the night.
“If no mistakes you have made, losing you are. A different game you should play.” – Yoda
A New Hope
Having a strong-willed child is not necessarily a bad thing. Strong-willed individuals have strong convictions and don’t bend to the pressure of others very easily. They tend to be outspoken, honest and forthcoming. They are highly perceptive and difficult to fool.
You can count on a strong-willed person to do as they say they will do because they don’t like to give up.
Many people believe that one with a strong-will doesn’t accept authority, but that simply isn’t true. They submit to authority with caution, relinquishing control to those whom they believe merit respect.
One of the best ways to earn their respect is to give them respect. These future leaders need to be seen and heard. Unlike C3PO, they’re not robots. They prefer to walk Han Solo. Fret not, your strong willed child will use the force for good.
May the force be with you, mama.