Gifts for Dad ➔

I am the mother of a strong-willed daughter. The proud, frustrated, and exhausted mother, if I’m being honest, but that little girl? She is my heart.

My daughter is brave and kind and resourceful. She is ferocious and stubborn and unmovable. She is smart and funny and loyal. She is hard.

It is possible for her to be all those things at once, and I love each little part of her.

For me, the struggle comes when her strong-willed nature comes out in public. I see the stares, the clucking tongues, and I hear the non-stop advice about how to get her to “behave”.

But as the quote by Eleanor Roosevelt goes, “Well-behaved women seldom make history.”

So if you see me out in the world with my strong-willed daughter, I don’t expect you to understand. I don’t expect you to know what our lives are like on a day-to-day basis. And I’m not going to give you a lecture on it when you correct us in a Chick-fil-A play place.

But here’s what I wish you knew about my strong-willed daughter.

She is proud.

When she is faced with adversity, my daughter doesn’t dissolve into a puddle of tears like some little girls do. Her chin tilts up and her hands go to her hips. And if you don’t know her, you might miss the tears lurking behind her eyes, or the tiniest quiver of her lip as she tries to hold it together.

Her pride gets the best of her sometimes. It makes her struggle with being corrected, and stops her from admitting her mistakes. It keeps her from showing her softer side, and it definitely keeps her from getting the sympathy other kids with more obvious reactions get.

But all those feelings? They are there, just under the surface. She is just desperately fighting not to let them show.

She is strong.

My goodness, but that little girl is tough. And I mean that in the best of ways. She can stand her ground against kids twice her age, and she does not back down from a fight. 

But she is also strong in the other ways that matter, too. She can make hard choices. She will sacrifice of herself for others. She’s got grit and determination and the power to push throughthings that are difficult.

She is going to be a strong woman someday, and as hard as that is in a six year old sometimes, it isn’t something I would change for the world.

She is sensitive.

She puts on a good show, but this little girl has a fragile heart. In fact, it’s why we so often see behaviors from her. She spends her life on the defense, trying to protect her delicate inner-self from the world. 

Someone will say something to her in passing, and she’ll think about it for days. It’ll come up in conversation for weeks. And she’ll remember it when the time to make her birthday party list comes around.

And it’s not because she’s holding a grudge (OK, maybe it is a little bit), but it’s also because she remembers the hurt that came with it and wants to avoid having it happen again.

She is emotional.

All of her feelings are big. Her sadness is as huge as her joy, and her tears are as heart-wrenching as her laugh is contagious. Her reactions are big because her feelings are big, and sometimes we just have to ride the wave of those emotions with her.

She is filled with big ideas.

My daughter has plans. She thinks of over-the-top parties, wild fashion designs, and has a layout in mind for the boutique she hopes to own someday. She fills notebooks with lists of things she wants to do, activities she’d like to try, and logistics for her various future endeavors.

She puts her heart and soul into these big ideas, but unfortunately, she’s still six. She lacks the means to bring her ideas to fruition.

So whether that’s throwing a party for all of her friends at Great Wolf Lodge (with whose budget, young lady?) or renting that empty storefront on the corner and starting her boutique right now (and who will co-sign the lease, Miss Thing?), she has a hard time putting these big ideas on the back burner until she’s old enough to be a GirlBoss in her own right.

She is powerful.

Oh, but this girl could move mountains. The first thing that her kindergarten teacher said at conference time was that, “Lila is a very powerful little girl.” She is clothed in strength and dignity, as the proverb says, and she is going to be a very strong and powerful woman when she grows up.

When she grows up.

Because all of these beautiful, tenacious, and powerful traits of hers are going to serve her so well into adulthood. She’s one of those kids you don’t have to worry about—she can take care of herself, and wherever she ends up in life, you know she’s going to be just fine.

But these traits of hers? They’re also not so socially acceptable in a six year old. She is told she is sassy, that she is feisty, that she is stubborn. And she’s learned over the years that these are code words. She internally translates them to naughty, or bad, or mischievous.

I need to teach her the other translations. I need to show her that these are positive, admirable traits.

But I need your help to do so.

So, when you see my strong-willed daughter—when you see any strong willed little girl—try to remember the positive side of her traits. See the magic behind that strength, and see the beauty in that passion. Try to project them into her adulthood, and try to see what I see. See her for who she is.

She is powerful. She is strong-willed. And she is loved.

Originally published on the author’s blog

You may also like:

Dear Strong Willed Child, You’re Worth It

He’s Not Always Easy, But He’s Easy to Love

Some Kids Are Just Harder Than Others

Jaymi Torrez

Jaymi Torrez blogs at TheSaltyMamas.com with her bestie and blogging partner Christine. She has two small children and a super cool husband. Jaymi dreams of five minutes peace and going to the bathroom alone, but can more often be found holding a two year old on her lap while writing about the ups and downs of parenting.

There’s Just Something about a 4-Year-Old

In: Child, Kids, Motherhood
4 year old girl smiling outside

There’s just something about a 4-year-old. The way their bubbly laughs and sweet little faces still have some traces of babyhood while they’re transforming into more and more of their own unique person right before your eyes.  The way they ask questions about everything under the sun, listen wide-eyed to your clumsy answers, and believe every single word you say. It’s so innocent (and scary) the way they believe absolutely anything you tell them—just because you’re “mommy.”  The way their still-a-little-chubby hand finds yours. And the way they still come running to you for a hug and kiss when they’re hurt. Or...

Keep Reading

Dear Preschool Teachers, I’m Going to Miss You So Much

In: Child, Motherhood
preschool teacher sitting with kids on her lap

Dear preschool teachers, There’s just no other way to say this— I’m going to miss you so much. You are the first adults outside of our family to spend your days with my children, and watching your relationships grow and develop this year has been the most bittersweet privilege. I’m going to miss the bright smiles that light up your faces every time my kids come bounding toward you on good days, and how tenderly you hold their little hands and guide them away from me on the tough ones. RELATED: Dear Preschool Graduate, I’m So Proud of You I’m...

Keep Reading

You’re Graduating From Kindergarten and the First Part of Your Life

In: Child, Motherhood
Mother, father, and little boy in graduation gown, color photo

To my little graduate:  I’m so proud of you. I used to think graduation ceremonies at this age were just a cute, end-of-the-year celebration. Now I see how much they really represent. I watched you in amazement this year. I saw all of your hard work. Not just academically but socially and emotionally as well. You learned to make friends without me there. You learned how to make your place in the world. You have learned to deal with disappointment, stand up for yourself, and the awkwardness of not being friends with everyone. You dealt with teasing because of your...

Keep Reading

He’s Outgrowing My Lap But He’ll Never Outgrow My Heart

In: Child, Kids, Motherhood

He’s five now—my baby, the third of my three children. I feel like I’ve taken the time to enjoy each stage, but no matter how much I try to savor, it still seems to go too fast. Like grains of sand slipping through my fingers—if I try to hold on too tightly, the years just seem to escape faster. We were sitting in church this morning. He had asked to sit in church with mom and dad instead of going to children’s Sunday school. And we let him. He’s gone from a squirmy toddler to a little boy who can...

Keep Reading

Dear Son, Don’t Ever Lose Your Helping Heart

In: Child, Kids
Young boy carrying two gallons of milk, color photo

When you carried two gallons of milk on our way out the door at Aldi, I smiled. You insisted to take them from my hands. You’re growing out of your shoes and shirts, and my prayer has always been that you’ll reach your full potential as a young boy growing into a young man.  You’ve always had a drive inside you that is seen big on the soccer field, and I pray you’ll always desire to work hard and serve strong wherever you are. RELATED: Let Us Raise Boys Who Have Respect Running Through Their Veins I pray you’ll work...

Keep Reading

9 is Changing Right Before My Eyes

In: Child, Tween
Girl sitting in car holding stuffed animal, color photo

“You are officially tall enough to ride without a booster seat,” our pediatrician tells my daughter after reviewing her measurements. It was her 9-year check-up, and she’d grown three inches in a year, landing at the 96th percentile for her age. She’d likely been tall enough for months, but I insisted we wait for her doctor’s confirmation, comforted by the imminent discussion on sitting safely sans booster. My girl gleefully melts into the car’s fabric and buckles her seatbelt, flashing a smile that showcases an assortment of adult and baby teeth. Reality hits me like an airbag in the face:...

Keep Reading

Goodbye To the Preschool Years

In: Child, Kids, Motherhood
Mother smiling with giggling preschool daughter, color photo

For me, personally, I feel as though this is the first gut-wrenching string I’m letting go of with my little girl.  Although when she started preschool I felt nervous and I missed her like mad, I knew I still had two weekdays with her as well as the weekend. It has been perfect—freedom and growth while at preschool—but still time for us.  School is on the horizon. The year of starting school has come quicker than I was prepared for. It has literally flashed before my eyes.  I have spent every day with my girls since they were born. Every...

Keep Reading

Don’t Ever Lose Your Sparkle, My Child

In: Child, Motherhood
Smiling little girl

I wish I could freeze this time, right where we are now. Right in this moment. Nothing is more bittersweet than seeing you grow.  People say time flies, and I didn’t really know how much it did fly until I had you. Until I held you in my arms for the very first time.  Since then, I have watched a little girl grow, right before my eyes. I watched her first steps. I heard her first words. I wiped her first tears. I held her hand the very first time. She grew. She keeps on growing. I see her smile...

Keep Reading

Dear Son, Will I Know You Tomorrow?

In: Child, Kids, Motherhood
Smiling boy

When you were a newborn, I knew you as well as it’s possible to know another human being. I was your everything; you were mine. I knew what each cry, each smile, each grasp intended. I anticipated your spit-up, your hunger, your fatigue. You grew into infancy, and we remained nearly as intimate: your laughs, your budding motor skills, and your newfound interest in toys were my complete delight. I was there with my camera to document the first time you sat up and played with toys on your own. I knew every single food you had eaten and its...

Keep Reading

Down Syndrome Does Not Define Her

In: Child, Motherhood
Infant in hospital bed, smiling, color photo

Riley’s story starts April 23, 2019. We had opted to get the 3-month scan and NIPT test with our third pregnancy just for the extra ultrasound. The tech brought in the maternal fetal medicine doctor, and he pointed out that there was an increased nuchal translucency measurement and that it was common with different trisomies. He suggested we have the materNit21 test to see which specific trisomy we were at high risk for. We opted for it. I got the call a few days later that the baby was at high risk for trisomy 21, otherwise known as Down syndrome....

Keep Reading

 5 Secrets to Connect with Your Kids

FREE EMAIL BONUS

Proven techniques to build REAL connections