Have you ever watched a nature show where two giraffes fight? They swing their long necks around like a baseball bat, beating each other violently. Or what about two mountain goats? Those things will run at each other like my kids run at chocolate cake! They slam their heads together in a terrific display of testosterone and dominance. Wow! What a show they put on!
Sometimes in our homeschooling efforts we feel like we’ve been caught in an ugly nature video and we are fighting for our lives. The stubborn, unyielding portion of our child’s personality comes out in a fit of rage or a tantrum and we are left trying to prove that our “big truck” is bigger than their “little truck”. Unfortunately, sometimes our big truck smashes the little truck and we are left to pick up the pieces.
Now I’m being overly dramatic, (or am I), but instances like this do occur. I remember one year when my second eldest son and I seemed to butt heads on every single subject, every day. Most times it would end up in a screaming match, followed by tears and slammed doors, wrapped up neatly with hugs and more tears. I often look back at those times and feel very disheartened by my own behavior and wonder how I could’ve done something differently to change the way things turned out. Today my son is bright, and loving and engaged in school so thankfully I don’t feel it did any permanent damage.
In those times I feel like we were those two rams, or giraffes. We just slammed away at each other with anger and rage. He was stubborn, I was more stubborn. He was angry, I was more angry. He got loud, believe me, I was louder. I think the whole neighborhood heard me. Homeschooling had it’s good moments, but overall that year was bad, horrible bad.
I learned a few things since then. I learned that the stubborn, strong, bull headed personality trait that my son seems even to this day to hold onto. Is necessary in life. At the time what he needed was not for someone to break that strong will, and make him learn his place (though that is what I was trying to do.) He needed someone to get under the weight of the stress he felt, and help him lift it up so he could walk on and be a kid. (To a kid a broken toy, or a lost puppy can be just as stressful as a foreclosed mortgage, or a sick loved one is to an adult.) However, in the end it was the strong, stubborn, tough will that kept him upright ,and fighting on through the stress.
It was the very thing that I was trying to break off of him, and remove from him, that kept him going! Sometimes our kids need a strong will. Let me name a few instances. A friend offers your child pornography, or drugs.. Do you want your child having a weak, limp, wishy-washy will? Here is another. Your child is offered a position at work that gives increased pay and responsibility, but in order to take the position they have to do unethical, or immoral things. Do you want your child to be a follower or a leader?
I made a huge mistake. I failed. I blew it. I just plain SUCKED. I got it wrong. But thank God that I get a do over. I learned that I WANT my child to be stubborn, bull headed, strong willed, and violently, ferociously LOUD! I want my child to know who they are, what they want, what they believe, and I want my child to GET IT. Being strong willed is what has given me the motivation to chase my dreams, obtain them, hold on to them, and pass them on. Being stubborn is what has kept me honest, faithful, and ethical. I want to recreate that in each one of my 5 children every day so that I know, at the end of the day they will make it.
Never look at your child’s strong will as a deficit in their personality or character. Embrace that bugger for everything they are! Train them to use that will as a fortress of strength against all the dangers of the world. It is the safe thing they can rely on. Your child will grow up and use the tools you empower them with as a young child, so, empower them. Teach them not to fight authority because they are stressed. Instead, they can learn stress relief techniques, and learn to discuss with words their emotions. Teach them to harness their own spirit and focus it on the real issues. Teach them the benefit of hard work, and learning new things, but never, NEVER break their will.
You have a treasure wrapped up in skin, standing right in front of you. Polish that thing until it shines. Bring out the very best, strongest, honest, and honorable qualities, and show them how to use them.