I laid in bed earlier tonight next to my strong-willed, second child. We had quite the day with her today, that daughter of ours. If it wasn’t one thing it had been another, and by the time 7pm rolled around we were all ready for her bedtime. In all honesty, I think she was, too – we needed a break from her, and she needed a break from us.
I laid next to her in her bed and rubbed her back, watching her precious little eyes slowly blink as she gently fell asleep. As I laid there and reflected on our day together, I couldn’t help but think about the potential of this strong girl if we could help her figure out how to harness her wild soul for good. Sometimes I wish we could just fast forward through these hard years and just see the end result. “You know what sweet girl, you are going to change the world someday. Some day you are going to do great things.” There was a pang in my heart, and I winced a few moments after those words came out of my mouth. I kissed her on the forehead and closed the door behind me, leaving my wild at heart girl to dream big and free, like only she can.
So often as parents, I think that it’s easy for us to get caught up in who we want our children to become that we forget to stand in awe of who they are in the moment. We tend to recognize the raw, untamed character in our little people and we see them as flaws. And in the process of doing so, we unknowingly limit their little spirits, hindering them from fully grasping the beauty of all that God truly created them to be.
Just because we created little boxes for our children and their personalities that we are comfortable with does not mean that they were made to fit in them, mama and papas. But here we are, shoving them in, stifling their spirits, and squelching the most beautiful things about them that are just bursting to get out and breathe. We are suffocating them.
So what do we do with these precious hearts that we have been entrusted with? I don’t know… you tell me!
I don’t have a perfect answer, but I think I have a place to start. Dr. James Dobson writes in his best-selling book The New Srong-Willed Child, “Whereas the will is made of titanium and steel, the human spirit is a million times more delicate. It reflects the self-concept or the sense of worthiness that a child feels. It is the most fragile characteristic in human nature and is especially vulnerable to rejection, ridicule, and failure. It must be handled with great care.”
Worthy. Our job is to let them know that they are worthy. Today. Just as they are now, in all of their wonderful, untamed tininess. And not just worthy of our love and affirmation (although that has invaluable importance), but that they are worthy of the calling set before them by their Heavenly Father. They are worthy of changing the world today.
Even though they are small. And if we reject who they are now… if we keep trying to control the parts of their spirit that overwhelm us, we are shattering their worthiness. And they are so worthy.
Because remember parents, it’s not our job to make them fit into the unrealistic boxes we’ve designed for them. By all means, discipline with discernment and parent with firmness. But remember it’s our job to help lead them to the Potter Who will mold them into a vessel of love. A vessel that can be used today, and tomorrow, and the day after that. They don’t have to wait to change the world someday. They can change it now.
And I can’t wait for my daughter to wake up tomorrow morning so I can tell her that.