Strong Willed Children

Our friends had a feisty little girl playing with my daughters at our house one day who told me “I like you!!” When I was walking through the basement. It’s one of those funny things kids say when they’ve known you for a grand total of four seconds. 

Ten minutes later I walked past and said “Ok guys, time to clean up”

Her response? “I’m not going to!” (My daughters eyes widened in surprise)

“Sure you are:) Everybody made the mess, everybody can clean it up!” 

This little turkey then pipes up “I don’t like you anymore!!!!”

I smiled and said “That’s ok, I still like you. But you need to clean up:)”

What’s interesting in this situation is that some families deal with the important part of this scenario and some don’t.

My daughter recently babysat some friend’s kids and the wee gaffer went from “I wish you were my mom because I love you!” to “I hate you!” when it was bath time. Then he didn’t want out of the tub because he was having too much fun. But you didn’t have to guess what he was thinking…

I was the kid who spoke his mind no matter where I was. This lead to a surprising amount of early discipline in my childhood, mostly because I wouldn’t be ignored and didn’t have the tact to go underground with anything. 

One thing I can see it did was force my parents to deal with some of the attitudes I had. Now I’d say I was never a mean spirited child, but I did have an anger problem that would swoop in on me when I was feeling threatened. I was quick to repent, but sometimes the damage had been done in words or actions, particularly with my little brother Ryan. Also he seemed to escape discipline so I tried to help out dad when I could?:)

Never one to harbour a grudge, I would blow off steam a little at a time, but in unmanageable ways. I also felt that I received a lion’s share of the discipline (which was true), but mostly because I was no good at hiding.

People with lesser filters live a terrifying existence until they either mature a little or find a mask to wear. Luckily I couldn’t find a mask quickly enough with my parents, who were very strict with my attitudes. I looked like a nail, and nails get hammered. If you have only easy children you have no idea what I’m talking about, but that changes quickly when you have a REAL child. 

I saw that my little brother was much smarter about letting out his real emotion, but a very interesting thing happened that often happens with smart people a little inward focused, he dealt with issues later in childhood than I did. 

By the time a strong willed outward child’s psyche is formed, most children are just coming out of their shell, and sadly, the squeaky wheel gets the grease. 

Quiet children who don’t cause trouble can harbour poor attitudes or selfishness much longer because no one really sees the bad pieces all at once. 

I was allowed more freedom than most kids, but bad attitudes always carried a strict judgement, which is how we try and raise our daughters. A broken vase or window isn’t nearly as serious as a sulky or selfish countenance. Broken vases can be fixed or replaced, broken attitudes are like broken bones, they need to be put in their place so someone doesn’t carry a limp, or a chip on their shoulder forever. 

My wife is much more soft spoken and nice than I am. I always equate nice with the truth, am straightforward and assume the best, and it lands me in trouble sometimes of my own making. I call it progress when the cards are all on the table and we can finally move the ball up the field. 

Erin is much more emotionally intelligent than I am (and just intelligent now that I think about it but don’t tell her I said it). But emotionally intelligent people also know what to say to diffuse a person or avoid a problem. We don’t avoid issues in our marriage anymore, but oh she used to be the master at it. I thought something was dealt with and then BAM! a month later….

I smiled sweetly at her one day and said “I wish you’d have had some sort of discipline as a child”:)

She said “I did once! I didn’t need it like you did!”

Fair enough. 

But I’m glad for the pushback I received. I spoke my mind and mom and dad spoke theirs. Too often now do I see people under the guise of honesty say their piece without realizing something…

Hearing what you’re really like rarely comes from yourself. 

And most of us are wearing masks with large mouths and tiny ears…

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