When I got pregnant, my husband and I researched parenting methods and decided to implement positive discipline. Now that my daughter is almost 4, I realize that positive parenting probably works for 90% of children. My daughter is the 10%.
Now, I’m NOT criticizing my daughter. She is a strong willed warrior and I am truly glad of that. However, it takes a very special kind of parenting to discipline and train a strong willed warrior without destroying that will, and positive parenting just doesn’t get the job done for us.
In addition, my own personality works against me: I’m completely non confrontational, which means that my instincts work against me every time my dear one challenges me. It’s emotionally exhausting for me because I must find ways to deal with the confrontations: ways which will nurture my little one’s strong will but also give her the strong limits and boundaries that she desperately needs.
This is why we now see a family therapist. Because, frankly, I’m not too proud to admit when I’m in over my head and don’t know what to do. I knew it was time for professional advice, and so I went and got it. Let’s throw out the stigma against getting help of any kind, please. I’m a better parent now that I’m working with a therapist, and my relationship with my daughter is better, and I know that our relationship will be better in 10 years because I’m putting in the hard work now.
There are times when I wonder if things will ever get easier. People always tell me that this age is easy, or that stage is delightful. And while my daughter brings me laughter all the time, it’s never easy. She’s brilliant, beautiful, and strong willed. I am doing everything in my power to nurture that, while also being the boss. She demands my own strength of will, as well as every last ounce of patience and intelligence. She is upping my game. And ultimately, I’m glad. When I’m in the trenches of a tantrum, I’m not thrilled, but on the whole, I know that this is exactly the perfect child for me and my husband. God gave her to us in order for all three of us to grow in love. It’s just that growing in love is intense and often painful.
My decision to become a mom was very intentional. My husband and I committed to six months of prayer and seeking counsel before we committed to parenthood. So we were clear on our reasons before we ever got pregnant. That has been greatly helpful. We didn’t have a child to satisfy our desires, or to contribute something specific to the world, or to have one more person to love us. We had a child to expand our love for each other – to increase the amount of love in the world. So when we are both exhausted and chaos reigns in the house, we can hold on to one reality: we love this little firestarter like no one else in the world. It doesn’t matter what she does: we love her for existing.