A Will of Their Own

by | Aug 10, 2010 | General, Guilt, Parenting/Family | 13 comments

pregoIf you took the time to search the early years of this blog, you would find many posts documenting the struggles, the humiliations, the exhaustion, the exhaustion, the desperation, and token precious moments this mom has had woven into the fabric of her motherhood journey. My earliest posts were heavy. It was a dark time. Post-partum, pregnancy, sleep-deprivation, yadda, yadda, yadda…

The young years with my kids were tough. For me. I thought I was prepared, but I had no idea.


And as I talk with moms, those are words I hear over and over and over and over again.


The biggest revelation to me was, despite all the excellent parenting information out there – when the wind separated “the wheat from the chaff” – I found my husband and I produced 3 little people with their own little wills and little hopes and little agendas. I found one size didn’t fit all… and it was hard to reason with those little people. Mostly because they had wills and hopes and agendas, and no reasoning skills.

Not unlike some adults, but I digress…

Light bulb moment in 3…2…1…: I think I had such a hard time because in the early years I failed to recognize the independent, growing spirits developing in my little children.

I thought kids should respond to parenting, obey… bend, be shaped… Which we do guide them, but… I was so focused on the concept of “performance” I often missed parenting to their individual hearts. By this I don’t mean giving them their way, but by guiding and disciplining according to this, this… “bent”.

In a nutshell – it’s not bad that kids have wills of their own. It’s not bad. They will need that when they don’t need US.

It is just bad when those wills kick, scream, yell, spit, or bite.

That’s not OK. No matter what your bent.

One day I stopped. I looked at my kids. I remembered… times I was frustrated as a kid. When I didn’t feel listened to. When I didn’t feel acknowledged in ways I hoped. I have always had “Jenny” on the inside… whether 3, 10, 16, 22 or 37. And that is true for my children. The young people they are now are the roots of who they will be. My job is to work with their bent. Guide and not squash.

That day I realized parenting was not about making a circle fit into a square hole.

And for the record: I don’t care what kind of bent a child has, it is never OK to dart into a parking lot. But I’m not talking about issues of safety here. I’m talking about the heart.

For me, parenting has become about figuring out whether my kids are circle, squares or trapezoids.

I think I may have a rhombus in the mix.

Those wills. Those natural personality bents… Oh, it’s hard.

Why? Because I have MY own personality. MY own will. MY own bents. ME ME ME. And as an adult, it can be quite disconcerting when someone is 2 feet tall and they try to run the show.

This is MY show. I’M the adult!


Were I Yoda, I’d have sage advice, I would.

I leave with this — If I got to have a do-over, I hope I would consider their wills…. then at age 2 instead of 5, 8 and 11 I would have:

  • appreciated earlier that my son is wildly compassionate and feels deeply… I would see how that affected his extreme reactions to stress and frustration and feeling choice-less when he was a little guy.
  • appreciated (or just plain recognized) earlier the quiet, curious fire in my middle daughter… I would see beyond the mess and guide the budding artist.
  • seen earlier in my youngest her need to touch things for what it is – joy. Her body and mind NEEDS to feel to understand, and I believe to *joy* in her surroundings Her tactile bent would not have been misunderstood as destructive… guiding & teaching rather than blocking and fighting.

How about you? Is parenting natural? Is it a struggle? Do you find it easy to let go of your ideals? Do you parent to direct behavior or heart? Have you thought about it? I hope you take a moment to share…

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