Family God Moments

Our Family’s Journey to Find God in the Everyday

Parenting a strong-willed child


My daughter turned 3 years-old this week; Monday to be exact. We asked her what she wanted for her birthday party, and her response was “pink.” I did not know what that meant, but we went with it – pink cake, pink decorations, pink clothes, pink presents. Funny story – this little diva wakes up on the day of her party and declares she will wear purple. No, my dear girl. If you have convinced both of your grandfathers to wear pink, YOU will wear pink!!

Lea - birthday girl

The last few weeks with our daughter have been rough. I try to blame it on this infamously terrible 2-3 year-old age range. However, some of her tantrums seem so much more intense than I ever remember from her brother. Maybe I’ve blocked it from my memory? Or maybe he was truly an easier child?!

This girl is full of passion, independence, dedication, compassion – qualities that will one day make her a very successful woman. But for a parent, these qualities can be frightening! Since we are celebrating her life this week, I will share one simple, but sweet story. After bath last week, I bundled her up in her big, (pink), hooded bathtowel and she asked me to hold her. I held her close in my arms, and slowly rocked back and forth. We shared a gaze of mutual peace, comfort and love. When I close my eyes and think of my daughter, this is the image I have, not the memories from her tantrums – like the story I’ll share next.

After a busy weekend, I was VERY excited to take the day off of work and have a Mommy and Lea day – a special day, just for us, to celebrate her 3rd birthday. She woke up bright and early, so we cuddled and watched Sesame Street until it was time to wake up her brother for school. It was really a lovely morning for both of us.

But then, all of a sudden she flipped – complete 180 from adorable daughter to psychopath! I did my best to get my son ready for school and make myself somewhat presentable. But Lea only yelled, ignored, was defiant in everything I asked of her. This is not abnormal for a 3-year-old. Usually I can close my eyes, pray for peace, center myself and deal with whatever she throws at me (sometimes literally). But this day was supposed to be special, this day I was fighting some nasty respiratory infection. On this morning I hit my breaking point. But I was not mad; just so, so very sad – and the tears started to flow; big, messy, wet tears. I was so excited about this day with my daughter, and now all I wanted to do was get away from her. It was terrible.

I carried my daughter to the car in her pajamas, kicking and screaming, so we could take her brother to school. I cried the whole drive to school and back; coughing and crying, crying and coughing.

Within moments of arriving back at the house, my daughter flipped back to her normal self, and I slowly calmed myself down. We sat and hugged and talked about her meltdown in a rational way. Then we proceeded to have a fun day together for the birthday girl!

Lea Birthday 2 Lea Birthday3

Human relationships can be so messy and complicated, and a quick resolution like I had with my daughter is rare. When I think of my relationship with God, I am often defiant and I ignore God’s guidance. Sometimes I even run away from God. Yet no matter how many times I fail God, God loves and God forgives. There is nothing I could do which would make God abandon me.

As a parent, I can strive to be a source of unending love and forgiveness for my children, no matter how they fail me. Unlike God, I am human and I will lose my patience. And it is OK, as long as I seek forgiveness and ask for continued strength and guidance from God to be the best parent I can be; to maintain this critical human relationship between parent and child.

With this strong-willed little 3-year-old I have, I have a feeling there will be many requests for forgiveness and prayers for peace over the next year… and probably from ages 13-18!


Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good. His love endures forever. Psalm 136:1

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.   Romans 8:38-39


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3 thoughts on “Parenting a strong-willed child

  1. I too raised a strong-willed (middle) child, amazingly enough alongside a wife who has Romans 8:38-39 tattooed on her foot. When our daughter was 3, we were pulling our hair out and reading “The Strong-Willed Child”, “How to Make Your Child Mind Without Losing Yours”, etc…….because her older sister sure didn’t act that way. We already feared the teen years. Daughter is 16 now, writing her own blog. On mother’s day, our strong-willed child wrote this tribute to her mother. Paste the link for a heart-warming example of a strong-willed child’s relationship with a godly mother.
    Your words “seek strength and guidance from God to be the best parent I can be”…….are words we should all follow daily.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for sharing your daughter’s writing! It was beautiful, open, faithful and honest. It is so very encouraging to see such a positive relationship between a teenage daughter and her mother. There are days when my “glass half empty” self worries irrationally about how to parent a teenage daughter, even though it is 10 years away. Thank you for reading my post and for sharing your encouraging story!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I am glad you got to enjoy your day with her! Hang in there! As you know, some days, weeks, months… are better than others!


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