What Parents of Strong Willed Children Want You to Know


Metal. Unyielding. Strong. Life-giving.

Our bodies need iron to live. To create healthy red blood cells pumping through our vessels carrying oxygen straight into the heart.

Pump. Pump. Pump.


Without the iron? Life is less.

My son has an iron will pumping life straight into my soul.

He turns seven in a week. Seven years and nine months I’ve held him. Even now, on occasional evenings when glory fills my arms, he will fall asleep against my chest.

His name is Caleb. And it means loyal.

He is named for the Caleb of the Bible. The one who stood his ground, refused to give into fear or peer pressure, and firmly trusted that his God was big enough to keep promises.

My Caleb? He’s amazing.

I want you to know how amazing because sometimes I wonder if you see it. I mean, how can you when you only see snapshots of outbursts—blips on the screen when he’s forgotten his manners or when his passion overwhelms him.


Caleb has a will of steel.

Sometimes it leaves even me, his momma, flailing and certain every parenting book under the sun has never parented my son.

A while back ago in front of a group of friends, my Caleb was bouncing off walls, forgetting his manners, excited about life. One adult made an off-hand comment about “that’s why we teach our son how to act.”

I know the heart of this friend. I know this friend truly loves my son. And I know the intent was not to diminish my parenting.

But still the comment stung. It bit into my heart because I know my husband and I have taught good behavior until we’re breathless and exhausted. We’ve taught it over and over and over again.

That’s a thing about strong willed kids. A thing you need to know.

You can teach and discipline and love and correct all the live-long day.

And you will often still be ignored.

My Caleb?

He knows how to stand his ground. Over the years he’s fired me. He’s hollered and screamed and yelled and stomped his feet.

I have a trashcan full with moments like that.

But I’m not here to recount my son’s bad moments. I’m here to tell you that he is amazing. How so many children just like him are incredible.

Caleb, my Court Jester, is full of passion. He is sensitive and easily frustrated. He is intelligent and one of the funniest kids I know. He will still curl into our laps and dances with the kind of zero rhythm you can’t help but cherish.

Every night he requests the same three things: Pray. Kiss. And Love. Every night.

He is fantastic.

He isn’t perfect, but he was created by a perfect God.

God didn’t make a mistake when He gifted my son with strong determination. My role as momma is to take that gift and steer it, guide it, mold it in a direction that will allow him to lead.

Children with an iron will? They steel themselves against the grain. They are created with less bend, and if we try too hard to curve that solid will, they could just break.

And I’m not here to break my child.

My role is not to extinguish his strong will. Because there will be times in his future when I want him to stand his ground, stay true to his convictions, never back down.

The strong will? It’s a powerful gift if used correctly.

Those of us who are blessed to parent the steel-strong babies? We want you to know we’re grateful for who they will become—despite the hard days of now.

We want you to know we’re good parents doing all the right things, but we’re raising independent children who sometimes choose the wrong things.

We want you to know the moments you witness don’t tell the true story of our child.

We want you to know we’re doing the best we can.

We want you to know support means the world, but while you mean well with your suggestions, we’ve most likely already tried those sticker charts and time-outs and a thousand other ideas just like yours.

We want you to see the beauty in our babes.

We want you to know our children. Really know them.

We want you to remember iron brings life—even the iron will.

We know they’re not perfect. No one is. Not one.

We are desperate for your grace.

We covet your prayers.

Because all parents of all children are raising the future. And that is a holy task.File Mar 22

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7 Responses to What Parents of Strong Willed Children Want You to Know

  1. Gail Matthews says:

    I think Caleb is “practically perfect in every way”! He is an awesome combination of all out boy and tender hearted pussycat. I love his sense of humor, that impish grin that lights up his eyes, his imagination and his Christ like loving heart. You’re doing awesome raising this baby doll!

  2. chandagriese says:

    As I’m reading this post, my boy is slamming his bedroom door. Yeah, he’s strong-willed all right. But, I have to remember his strong love and strong convictions. Thanks for this encouragement–this courage breathed out from another mama learning how to best love her strong-willed son.

  3. Laura says:

    Amen Heather! Both my boys have strong wills and I am grateful. They have made many poor choices, but it is through those times they grow the most. They both have tender hearts inside and I pray every.single.day that they will grasp what God is calling them to so for Him. Press on with your Caleb…you are a great parents!

  4. Rebecca says:

    You really spoke to me tonight! I have an iron-willed 9-year-old boy. He is difficult right now, but I KNOW God has amazing plans for him as an adult. That passion and determination is being developed into a strong man who will do important things! He is already very passionate about feeling the need to help others. Keep up the great mothering! I’m glad your son has an understanding mother ❤️

  5. Bonnie says:

    Praise God for ALL children ! I have 6 children and they are all strong willed. I have a Caleb myself that is now 19 years old. I have had many of the quoted ” trash can moments ” with my Caleb and while he is older, we still experience some moments. However more often than not, the comments from other parents have changed from ” have you tried this or you should do this …” to now they simply state ” you have done well ” or better yet … ” Caleb is beginning to receive and you as his parent are starting to see the seeds blossom ” . Treasure your Caleb as the next 10-12 years will go swiftly. Have no doubt that the GOD in your Caleb is far greater than anything in this world. Blessings !

  6. elizabeth warren says:

    Love this: “We want you to know support means the world, but while you mean well with your suggestions, we’ve most likely already tried those sticker charts and time-outs and a thousand other ideas just like yours.”

  7. Lynda says:

    Well said. You and Prince Charming are raising your two children in the way they should go.

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