I've never wanted to tame my daughter's strong will. I've certainly wanted to turn it off every now and then, but ultimately, I want to direct it. I see posts online that encourage people to call a strong-willed child a "spirited" child, probably in an effort to eliminate the terror that a person might feel when they realize their beautiful, wonderful, intelligent kid falls into that category. The truth is that there's no reason to fear having a child that knows what they want and goes for it.
I could see pretty early on that my daughter was strong-willed, and I wasn't the only one who noticed. My first reaction was a mixture of fear and pride. Pride, because I figured she was more likely to achieve her own goals throughout life. Fear, because that pretty much blows all of my parenting knowledge out of the water. Fear, because her being more likely to achieve her goals might mean I have to lose a few more battles than I initially thought. Fear, because I assume most of her childhood would be one big power struggle between us. It's kind of my thing to over think things, so I spent a lot of time wondering how I was going to point her in the right direction. I mostly just prayed that she already wanted to go the right direction, so all I'd have to do would be keep her from climbing on the roof or something in the early years, and the rest would be cake.
Lately, however, I've been much less afraid. It makes sense to feel exhausted at the thought of someone challenging you daily for eighteen years, but it's just as scary for me to think about having to figure out how to motivate someone daily for eighteen years or more. I can hardly figure out how to motivate myself! I think we can all agree that parenting can be terrifying no matter how you look at it. Every child needs direction, "spirited" or otherwise. When you think about it further—which, of course, I do—it might actually be easier to have a child that is self-propelled. Maybe not easier for everyone, but certainly for some, including myself.
Yes, my daughter is exhausting at times. She doesn't stop expressing a desire until it's met. She is difficult to distract or redirect, and she has no fear. However, she's also naturally curious. She will investigate instead of getting frustrated. Each of these qualities have their own pros and cons, and while they may completely drain me some days, I am often impressed by how she figures things out on her own. She knows what she wants and is unafraid to try. As young as she is, she still has her own little plans in her head.
As a parent, it is my job to make sure she doesn't lose these qualities. I may be more frazzled some days than others, but this is temporary. Her endless curiosity and determination is not, and she just may have a much easier time becoming successful on her own terms than I or many others.
And, just think... my other kids might make parenting a breeze.