I used to laugh when my mother-in-law, Darlyne, told me how my husband was a strong-willed child. That was until our daughter turned out to be exactly like her dad.
Darlyne used to tell stories about when John was a baby. She said he’d crawl to the nearest electrical outlet and want to stick his finger in it. She’d tell him no, gently slap his hand, pull him away, and yet he’d return. She’d do that over and over, trying to hinder him. She’d turn his attention to something else, trying to distract him. Finally, she’d give up, and she’d have to cover the outlet.
“But I learned as he grew that his strong will benefited him in the long run,” Darlyne told me. I believed her.
A scrawny high schooler, John was told he’d never make it in the Marines. So he joined. He not only made it, but he graduated top of his class. In the military, he stayed true to God, even when alcohol and women were readily available to him. All through life, he has lived as a man of honor and excels in his work. His strong will has taken him far.
This, of course, wasn’t comforting as I dealt with my own strong-willed child. Leslie was a sweet baby doll her first year of life, but things changed once she turned 2. She’d have tantrums if she didn’t get her way. She would hide behind me and refuse to talk when people approached her. If I gave her a blue cup, she wanted the red one. If I offered a cookie, she’d want a cracker, and vice versa. Each day was a battle—my will against hers. There were days I loved my child but didn’t like her that much.