Raising My Strong-Willed Son, Max
I hope you all had a great weekend and you are remembering to include a bit of self care on this Sunday! I wanted to talk a bit about my strong willed, passion fueled first born, Max. He is my first baby but sadly no longer a baby- he turns 6 in July (insert the waterworks here.) Many people on the outskirts would describe him as “difficult” or “stubborn”, but he is just super adamant and determined; qualities that I know will get him very far in life. It has been amazing to watch him grow and learn everything he has in such a short period time. It’s actually bittersweet because I look forward to the present, the future and all that it has to offer him; but I also miss the days where he needed me for everything but those days are long gone. While some parents birth children & just get “lucky” like my parents, lol (JOKING), with kids that just listen the first time with no questions asked, that’s not my case at all, and I am learning to be okay with that.
Max is my strong willed child to say the least. He is stubborn and never takes no for an answer with out putting up a fight, he always has to explain his point or the method behind his madness. When his personality first started sprouting, I figured it was him just blossoming and it was just a phase, but boy was I wrong. There were and are so many times that frustration gets the best of me because I can’t seem to comprehend why he just won’t do it my way. We, hubby & myself come from an upbringing of “you are a child and you are supposed to do what I want because I said so”. Honestly, I just feel like that is setting me up for failure as a parent. I am coming to realize that ALL children are different and ALL children express themselves differently. In no way am I promoting a child to be disrespectful and Max isn’t disrespectful but he is very firm and rigid with what he wants and needs to get done which most of the time leads to power struggles between us and him.
Max is often prone to power struggles when trying to get his point across and guess what, it takes two of us to power struggle and it never ends well. By the time the struggle is over, I am frustrated and ready for a glass, not even a glass but a bottle of wine & Max is usually distraught, crying and not understanding why mommy or daddy are “so mean” and “never listen to him.” Not fun for anyone as far as I am concerned. He simply does not like to take no for an answer, but if I sit and explain to him why I said no, or why he can not do that he responds way better once he has an explanation, a reason. For those that come from Italian or Dominican decent you guys know that this is just about unacceptable because a parent should never have to explain themselves to their kid and no means no. Pretty simple right? Not in my case. I have tried and so has my husband (he still tries), but Max along with many other kids is just wired differently and I have to be okay with that. He needs to fuel his brain with learning through actions, and often feels like it is being taken away from him when constantly being told no.
Though trial and error I have learned a few things on how to better get through to Max. He loves when he is given a choice- even when they are two options he might necessarily love he loves being the master of his own destiny. Keeping a steady routine is optimum in our household, when he is already anticipating the next move it won’t catch him by surprise. Disciplining Max through punishment does not work in my favor, instead me telling him how disappointed and sad with his actions really hits him to the core. He really hates to disappoint us. He doesn’t like to feel like he is being dismissed so listening to him and making him feel like he is heard always works in my favor. And sometimes I just have to bite the bullet and learn by getting hurt (in moderation) or breaking something and guess what..VOILA! The next time he will remember for the rest of his life what happens if he makes the same choice again.
I know I will still have many, many days filled with frustration and anger and that is ok, but I also am going to remind myself on those days that this kid is going to move mountains in the real world whatever it is that he decides to do. My job is to love him unconditionally, teach him right from wrong, how to be a respectable member of the community and most importantly how to love himself & how can that happen if I am constantly telling him no and yelling? It’s impossible. So instead, I will choose my battles and love my strong willed, sweet & loving boy.
Max, one day you will see this & see how hard mommy is trying to let YOU be YOU. I am and will always be your biggest fan!
To all of my mommas with children like mine, STAY STRONG & remember you can only do your best. Choose your battles, give them choices, offer them respect and just simply listen to them. I can almost guarantee that you will see a difference in how your child responds.
Until Next Time.