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Practical Advice for Parenting Strong-Willed Children (Part 2 of 2)

Focus on the Family / Jim Daly
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November 20, 2020 5:00 am

Practical Advice for Parenting Strong-Willed Children (Part 2 of 2)

Focus on the Family / Jim Daly

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November 20, 2020 5:00 am

Educator and author Cynthia Tobias offers encouragement and practical advice for the difficult scenarios faced by frustrated parents of strong-willed children, ranging from very young to adult. (Part 2 of 2) (Original airdate: Oct. 9, 2012)

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Focus on the Family
Jim Daly
Focus on the Family
Jim Daly

The early years and when I came in of the Lord and he he and his family were so against it.

That they actually advised him to divorce me. Joyce spent many lonely years trying to trust God and love her husband well. Thankfully, she found the support and encouragement she needed. I think that guy just really family ministry only and prepare me like my heart lived out in front of my head know what it means to follow Christ and the best news of all is the Joyce husband also became a follower of Jesus, I'm Jim Daly when we work together we can strengthen more marriages like joys and give families hope, please call 800.

The A in the word family or your gift will be double. I was pretty easy to get along with didn't fight you confrontational to you point your bony finger in my face and you backed me into the corner and you say do it or else not just else because I know there's nothing I really have to do with tumbling today. If I'm willing to die and you're not.

I went Dead but I went. I don't care if I have to die to do it to understand. I don't care if I have to die a strong statement from a strong-willed individuals and for the bias and you'll hear more from today on Focus on the Family your hostess focus president and author Jim Daly and I'm John Fuller. Cynthia is so good at nailing down have a strong-willed child thinks and acts in the course being one the self claimed one or she does. She knows exactly how they think and act and then she offers us guidance as a parent is a teacher is a former police officer on how to handle it is apparent if you didn't have the program last time you got a download or get the CD because it's relevant right where you're at as a parent with that strong-willed child. Cynthia has lots of great tips and every parent is going to benefit and if your grandparent this is the one you want to pass along to your adult children who are raising those grandkids for you. We set it last time. This is one of our most popular programs which is why we wanted to come back to it and it got a huge response. In fact, let me read a comment we received from a parent named Deborah who shared that she said I heard you today broadcast with Cynthia Tobias and it was an answer to my prayers had been changed and there has been peace in my home for a month since I heard the broadcast. You gave me so much insight into the way, my almost 14-year-old strong-willed daughter thinks I've applied some of the strategies you spoke of, and there is peace. I can't thank the Lord enough for using you to bless me so much John that touches my heart. That's exactly what were trying to do each and every day here Focus on the Family and I want to say thanks to those of you who have supported the ministry. If you haven't supported Focus on the Family in a while. May I ask you to participate with us in blessing others and helping them have a healthier, more God centric home. That's were up to each and every day that we really do want to help you and your partnership is vital.

You can donate get the download or CD of this presentation and or call 800 K and the word family and the conversation is based on Cynthia's book, you can't make me. But I can be persuaded. And here now is today's Focus on the Family Cynthia last time we are talking about that parent that is hit that natural boiling point.

I mean they's is yet another grocery store moment when they said no to that candy bar and sounds like I'm speaking from experience is this is but you know you just get to that point you said it is many times as you can say and they're not listening to you and your say what am I going that you and you hit that boiling point. Your natural human emotions paying you snap and last time you gave us three quick ways to manage that. Let's hit those again is a recap from last time.

Charlie called the strong-willed child emergency kit and that is your first step is to back off a little perspective just back off walk away if you have to just a little ways. The second one is is to figure out what the point is, what am I trying to accomplish.

Is there another way to get there. So can I just do not doubt back just a little and then the third way is to just be honest to say, look, I'm liability this here I am, I'm just someone to say something I regret so I need to back off again just honesty and that sounds like you're giving up right there. It doesn't someways that he and and I don't know if this'll be all that popular with the parents who are listening could let me just tell you one thing is a strong-willed child. The honesty and a strong-willed parent. I had to apply to myself is it's harder to do to ourselves if I'm the strong-willed parent and I got a strong-willed kid and were going toe to toe. I don't want to lose. I'm not going lives and the kids are gonna lose right and so one of us has to be able to figure out how to do this and and one clear example I remember when I was police officer and I'm a young, impetuous, 26, 27-year-old police officer and the only woman on the force for it for several years and so I'm not feeling pretty good in my uniform and I pull this guy over for it. You know, you just didn't completely stop and so I'm thinking in my head. I just kinda given warning and just tell them that not what he should do. So I walked up to the car and before I could even say a word he says to me why you pull me over.

You can give me a ticket. You just can't even give me a ticket and not even a real copy only woman who ouch very smart thing to say. You know what I did. I said you're right. I'm not going to give you ticket. I want to give you three nice and yet the trend in your tires and failure to notify Department licensing about change of address within 30 day I'm eligible to be things that will what happened immediately was things escalated quickly.

In fact he got out of the car and then it turned into a fight back up and he ended up in jail and you know the bottom line.

It's my fault. It was my fault that I let it escalate and let him bait me and I learned then, as I've learned through the years, over and over, that those who anger you control you. So the moment he made me angry.

The moment he made me lose my cool and escalate and in let him have it. I lost he won. He was now in control and even though I eventually got to put them in jail and 1/2, so there nobody really want from that and you know every parent knows it does to you don't feel good when you lose it and you snap and you and you just take your grounded for life or are you taking away everything that you care about and I'm you know you can make horrible punishments and you took about that. You just lost it and you let that kid know I can be week. I can give in and so I can't count on you and him as a strong-willed kid I I need to count on you to be solid.

I need to know that you can hold steady and if you scream and yell at me. You're not holding steady. That's why your calm firm voice says nice try were not gonna do it and you you don't lose your cool because as a strong-willed kid if I know the buttons to push to make you angry. I will pushed just about every day. Every day the chance I get when you're in that moment. I mean, what's so important that what you're saying is so critical is to de-escalate yet and everybody wins. In that situation when you can actually take the energy out of the process. I have tried to remember that when you know Trent and I are having our little parental problem and you know to put a smile on your face and put on around him and say listen to moms just ask you to do this. Can you honor Mom by doing that exact nuts and that melts me that it they do jump it. What I noticed with with Trent, which is so wonderful he usually gets around to doing it but to your point of control he wants to do when he wants to do it within a reasonable amount of time and now we've begun to relax about that so we say no really would like you to mow the lawn. I said can you just get it done sometime this afternoon and he gets it done and I don't stay harping on you know it's 1 o'clock and you never got it done, yet we said sometimes afternoon, but you need to find ways to let them have some of the control don't you and you know the other little secret is did the empathizing know, I know you hate doing that and I and I wish there was no way around it. I sure appreciate you doing that you think you can have that done.

Might I mean as long as you know I hate it. Then I'll probably do it better for you.

But when you just act like it's my job to do it and I just better do it just, you know, pull myself together. Something about that empathy.

Again, it goes to the relationship where where you and I can look at each other and you say I know it's a bummer is not here. Some of this.

It almost sounds like respect as well.

It's hard for parent to understand that I think I had to learn that and believe me, even though I'm give you good examples. It doesn't always work that way. I know I got a funny or poor examples in my parenting, but it does come down to realizing the this is a human being. You gave birth to this human being, but you need to respect your child and that would be honest with them. Talk with them. Don't simply control them like a robot and his parents. We don't often realize, but there watching us very closely and they're talking to us the same way we've been talking to them. That is the parent that's unacceptable to us. You can't treat me that way you cannot treat me with such disrespect. Without realizing our responsibility as the parent is we have to model it for them.

How else will they not practice and that's when the that the introspection comes in with the parent who doesn't. You know I shouldn't have to kowtow to my child. I got an answer to you later answer to me. And when you think well I don't know.

I think you know you you get what you give.

And it's hard hard to sometimes deal with that, Cynthia. One thing that I've observed as well as it's hard to pick the battles everything can look like the big stuff. When in reality there's probably only a handful of things that are the real things and then a lot of it. It's the little stuff and we tend to sweat the little stuff, maybe even more than the big stuff would give us examples of how we go about discerning what are the big battles. One of the ones we don't need to win right in and this is a classic a course and you know we all of us as parents have to decide what am I going to go to the wall for because I can't go to the wall for everything or not to get anything if you make everything a big fat hairy deal then everything will turn into a big fat hairy deal and and you will fight a battle on everything so just decide what you know in our home physical safety is always a go to the wall issue is knocking to be negotiable with you walk out in traffic where the you don't wear seatbelts of physical safety. I'll go to the wall for spiritual and moral values. I'm not to make those negotiable and I can let you lie or cheat or steal or hurt somebody. I'm going to the wall. For those not if I'm going to get those I gotta back off of other things exactly what you where exactly what you say or how you say it. I can't have everything. So as parents is hard, but you have to figure out is this one really worth it. And because you're not going to get everything and you may lose the stuff that was really worth it. If you cannot harp on the stuff that wasn't the classic example, when Mike and Rob were about eight Mike my strong-willed son at breakfast table. He says to his brother.

Hey Rob that's Ms. cereal and I said Mike what he say Robert past Ms. cereal doing now son Michael to bicycles. I'm not gonna say that word I you can't make me that say that word like to say that word. I'm just not eat breakfast and I said that's fine Tobias because this is worth it to me.

I'm not going to raise her boot, ill mannered, ill behaved child. This one's worth it and he got up and he stopped down the hall and he went into his bedroom and he slammed the door and he was even in their minute voice's pumped back down the hall and sat at the table and then he went please not know is apparent what I'm thinking right, I'm thinking that's not how we say it, let's start over but I did than what I did at least a couple times a week mean he's 21 now. I covered physically covered my mouth and didn't let myself say anything because I realized I just won my go to the wall issue. If I'm going to keep press and if I'm going to keep kibitzing I'm gonna keep picking at him for exactly how he does it. I'm gonna lose it all week. We have to his parents put your hand over your mouth sometimes just think, did I get the really crucial point here, and does it really have to be exactly my way because if it does everything's in a disintegrate and it's not work, and in fact what happens if if you can't do that. The child in seizures renegotiating the deal constantly right. That's what's funny. Every trend is actually so that you keep renegotiating you told me to say please I said please you and said say please kindly get the get back to that exactness. That's right because the letter of the law can always get you. I can always get you that it's taken us a sense of humor.

You know the nice try, and you can just if I do something outrageous that angers you just enrages you if before you just jump on me and said I can't believe you just said that you better if before you do that you can give me a fire escape just a little one, you can say nice try but you were serious, and then I have a moment where I can say sorry and really the majority the time you be surprised how often I will take that out, but one of my favorite stories. Mike, my friend Sharon in Greenville, South Carolina.

She hit her strong-willed son Brandon. When is about 16 this year and she's a by the book mom but she'd been really practicing and them Brandon is that ninth grader and she picked him up after school and even you know it was all wrapped up in conversation with his friends and Stephanie got in the car. He tossed his backpack in the backseat of the car and Sharon said so Brandon, how was your day at school. He said it was great. Check will go down is got know she's got her hand over her mouth right away right can and Brandon he's frozen in fear because he just realizes what he said he didn't even think before he said he's frozen in fear so so Sharon, she pulled herself together for a few seconds and then she says to him, that's Mrs. check to you and he said mom, I'm sorry.

Now if he hadn't said mom, I'm sorry.

Then she would had to go ahead and enforce the disrespect. Will you have to do that sometimes you have to do it the hard, but she gave him just that moment. That said, you didn't mean right. He caught it he got a chance to correct himself. He got control and control of himself and instead of having a bony finger. He had a relationship with a mom who understood for a moment that he got carried away and he didn't really mean it and she gave him just a second. A few seconds to make it right is Cynthia.

We haven't talked about this last time or this time, but the the siblings of the strong-willed child. Let's talk about that dynamic because often that strong-willed child can consume all the oxygen in the home. I mean, it's all about them all the time and then you got little Junior next to big brother and how do we ensure that were protecting that child in the proper way emotionally sometimes and physically goes one of the things you do with all your kids is continually reinforced ranks and point out strengths in front of your brother or sister in and encourage them to recognize the strengths and that they're different when it comes to the strong-willed child you write a lot of times there's a whole lot more going on with the strong-willed child and is more compliant brother sister doesn't get the attention.

What I did. Robert was the compliance when he's two minutes younger than his twin brother Mike Wright and Robert tells everybody is the best two minutes of his life and when he was younger. I think he's probably about second or third grade and his brother constantly getting attention stuff and I had a dream aside one morning I put my arm around my said Robert you have any idea how valuable you're going to be when you grow up. He's is what you mean and I said you're going to be able to work almost any place you want because you will have incredible experience and ability to work with strong-willed people you've practiced with the best your brother, your mother and your learning every day how to bring out the best in somebody really strong-willed and and strong personality because yeah I guess maybe you're right. And you know it's really come true in many ways as he's gone through.

I try to reinforce that in him and to say you know what you're learning is how to deal with a strong personality that is a good strength to have and it'll be valuable to you later. So again, just reinforcing is not all that I have to have all that much attention is a more compliant child. It's just the attention I get is encouraging and its positive and strong.

We do want you to continue the conversation through Facebook.

Should Jimmy mention we have a lot of interaction last year when we heard a presentation from Cynthia. That's what were coming back to it today as we talk Cynthia about the dynamics in the home address some of those things that strong-willed kids do to their siblings because everything is a battle not just with the parent but with the siblings as well as the well you know might you could talk to my sister who is five years younger than me right and she's the compliant person not client doesn't mean week right, it doesn't mean that your your namby-pamby different personality, different personalities, like the other hand, it's compliant as to complete and so but you know I was not. I could have been perceived as the bully growing up, but I was the leader. Definitely the leader and I was the boss, with her and people ask her often and say what you kinda resentful that your sister you know can't push you around and told you everything to do and she just smiled sweetly to this day, and she says oh no she said I knew that I would never get in trouble.

She said it kind of ever in trouble. I could always save Cindy's ball and I knew I was to provide an covenant that I loved. I exactly I did strong-willed kids do tend to get most of the discipline don't we do tend on it and we take the bullet it's okay well I'm willing to parents will jump to the obvious. It had to be you are the one that stole the cookie fess up that can be hard to because a parent is be careful not to put undeserved guilt on that strong-willed child when you know I've had that dialogue in our home where Trent will select hate Troy did it, not me, and again here you want to shift some responsibility and ask by asking some questions you be in a better position you can say wow you really hurt your sisters feelings. Did you mean to do that and and if I say no then I didn't think so, how did you want to make that right now.

What you doing is your shifting responsibility and control to me and I'm recognizing that yeah I did hurt somebody's feelings. Now if I say did you mean to hurt your sisters feelings and this kid says yes. Well, now we got a different situation. Morgan have to do it the hard way. But the hard way doesn't happen nearly as often is if you shift responsibility and recognition to me as the strong-willed kid. Yeah, I guess I did get a little bossy. In fact Cynthia in your book you can't make me.

But I can be persuaded. You get 10 tips and I think we should post these on the website. General grid I won't mention them all here, but some of them. If you have a strong-willed child. These are going to hit you because I did with me.

One value my ability to see the world from a unique perspective that's beautiful let's that identity. In that respect. We talked about true you mentioned.

Remember we need compelling problems to solve not just chores to do. We talked about the three asked for my input. Keep me in the information loop.

Yeah, I mean if you have that strong-willed child you're seeing your child in these one of the others that you think are critical of you have tendered you want to run through the other side let you week we talk about protect the relationship because you not to get much of anything with me. If we don't have one and we talk about smile at me more often in this you have to practice smile when you don't feel like it.

That's hard to do Christian it is. But even scientifically. They say if you smile it starts out fake but it kind of turns into genuine that we talk about don't let me push you around but don't push me around either talk about that for a minute. Don't let me push you around, but don't push me around either. Boy I can resume with all you got me this is a natural thing prepared to do is to say you will miss her too tight about her right because it's that it's efficient right we already know what the deal is and we know what has to happen here.

So just do it and then it takes a lot more time and a lot more effort to stop and let me try a little and ask a little and argue with you a little. It's much more frustrating.

Speak to me respectfully but firmly number seven and that's just really really important, and that takes the most practice. But if you can stay calm, then it you've won so many battles more than you think I and then a question to your battles don't sweat the small stuff.

Give me some control over my own life and circumstances, and you know here specially we find kids for instance kids that are foster kids, or kids that have been through divorce. Kids that have lost suffer the loss of a parent those are things that take control away from me as a strong-willed child. I have lost control over my life. I've lost control over so much. I've been abandoned. Things haven't worked out.

I got an alcoholic parent. So I seek to control whatever I can.

Even if it's a small thing, even if it's a negative thing. So anyway you can build in giving me some control over my circumstances and the number 10, which is so important and and what God does to us all the time is you know remind me you love me even when you have to correct me even when I have to learn the hard way. If you could just remind me.

You know you're so special to me. You are so important to me and I don't know if I told you lately, but one of the things I love about you is if you could just remind me how much you love me makes all the difference in the will goes earlier. 10 beautiful things that you have in your book you for the last few minutes, or talk about that strong-willed child. It's a grown adult may be in their 20s and other back home in the economy right now there are a lot of people that are in that seat. How does a parent of an adult strong-willed child, how you set the ground rules there for what will and what will not be tolerated. It's tough is not because you know party was glad to see the child part, it is not so glad you want your child to succeed and you got a lot of ideas for how they could do that right.

But here, but the 2100. There 26 or that 30 and I'm not all that receptive as a strong-willed, adult young adult that receptive to your ideas anymore because as you know, I feel like I have my own ideas in your you're quick to say, well, obviously your ideas didn't work in it.

There's that poster that says you know a lot of kids who leave home to set the world on fire come back for more matches. That's where they and we are more than happy to give it to them right. But here's really important now you're dealing with the young adult so the honesty the transparency you know sit on the table and say you know where happy to have you stay here while you get on your feet.

Let's talk about what you think is fair.

You know let you know maybe where when I can I charge you rent for example. But what you think is fair as far as what what you might give us in exchange for and how will we know that you're working on you, ask questions, ask questions, ask questions instead of saying will look you can live here, but you need to do this and I think it's only fair that you do that you have to resist the temptation with that young adults who are supposed to be thinking for themselves. You remind them how much you love them and how much are supporting them and how happy you are that there there but you know instead of bugging them and nagging them. You just ask you, how would would you like me to remind you about this and how would you like to have this and with that again authority in your voice that says you know is really not an option. I'm just kinda giving you this unity to tell me what you want. What I love that illustration putting your hand over your mouth is. Still, that's what I hear you saying a gym. You have said this time and again during the past few years that we been in the studio together. The relationship with the child that's what you want. It's deftly more important than the rules.

I know that sounds counterintuitive because we, as Christians, particularly, we want to live by the rules were called to live by these righteous standards, but you know what God is a God of relationship first and foremost, and if you're struggling with the rules.

He wants to walk alongside you to improve that area of your life. If were really honest with ourselves, even as adults. Even his parents, that's true, and so how do we mirror that to our children so that they know they are unconditionally loved that there is expectations there, but that fundamentally my relationship to you is your mother, your father is core. Let's end with that since you what would you thought what you know. Tim Kimball wrote a book about why Christian kids rebel and and you know I have one my strong-willed son is kind of rebelling a little bit in some ways now to and what's gonna bring it back is not to be the sermons and not going to be the lectures and not to be the reminders of what sin is and what sin isn't. It's what keeps him close to me is the relationship that we've built and and it's very difficult sometimes as a Christian parent because your heart just aches that this child is making these mistakes. But when you think about what Christ does for us. I serve him because of the relationship.

I don't serve him because of the hammer and because of of the internal damnation if I don't know that's a bonus that I don't get that. Don't get me wrong but but the thing that draws me and if you really think about what's gonna draw them to the church. What can I draw them to Christ and to the foot of the cross.

It's not good to be a bony finger. It's going to be the love and the consistency and the unconditional relationship that we kept track in Romans 24 it says it's God's kindness that leads one to repentance and you can put the parent in there as well and one parent's kindness that leaves a child to repentance night and one word of encouragement to parents of strong-willed rebellious kids you know God's the perfect father, but he still has wayward children sent to the buyers. That is a good place then your book, you can't make me. But I can be persuaded. Love title. Thank you for being with us on family know every time I hear sent to Tobias on Focus on the Family I'm reminded of some of the nuances involved with parenting a strong-willed child.

She really knows how to unpack and simplify those concepts. She shared I agree John Cynthia has such great wisdom and depth, and I think a lot of that comes from her having been one of those strong-willed children herself. She knows how they think because she is one and that's why we want to come back to this program because I know it's going to help parents who are struggling in this particular area and we want to be there for you to get practical resources into your hands so you can apply them in your home, and I want to say thanks to those of you who have supported focus this past year to give that kind of hope. Families haven't supported you in a while. Let me ask you to consider doing that today. Together, let's help families finish the year strong.

You can give families hope today when you call 800 K in the word family or the link to donate and get Cynthia's book you can't make me. But I can be persuaded. Those links are in the children's will thank you for joining us today for Focus on the Family half Jim Daly and the entire team. I'm John Fuller inviting you back. As we once more help you and your family thrive in Christ

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