I’ve been a daddy for a bit over four years now. Both boys are old enough now that their personalities are starting to come through. Liam is our firebrand. He’s strong and stubborn and so smart that sometimes it’s a bit scary. Ewan is a little more chill but I’ll often see the same fire in his eyes that I see in Liam’s. We have strong boys. They have strong personalities that challenge Laura and I in ways I certainly never anticipated.
I’ll confess that there are times I see other kids and I find myself saying, “I wish my boys were more compliant.” It’s exacerbated by things like Facebook where pictures of kids doing sweet things and playing nicely with their siblings abound. It’s an attitude that comes all too easy and one I need to repent of. You see, the personalities that my boys have weren’t an accident. Their personalities were given to them by God and God has a plan to use these strong boys for his glory. Maybe having kids who were more compliant would be easier for me but then Liam and Ewan wouldn’t be Liam and Ewan.
I don’t know what the future holds for my boys. Right now I know Liam loves to run and play. He loves to test boundaries and he will persist in it even it comes at personal cost. He will ask Laura and I to read him “Digory” (“The Magician’s Nephew”) over a book more his age. He has many passages of Scripture memorized and is on his way to learning the Catechism. If he sees mommy or daddy hurting he’s quick to come over and pat a leg and say, “It’ll be okay, mommy!”
Ewan’s personality is still coming out so I’m hesitant to write too much at this point. He’s a little more laid back than big brother but we’ve seen some of the same persistence in him that big brother has in spades.
All this to say, it’s really easy to look at strong kids and give them the stink eye as mom and dad wrestle them out to the car after a tantrum in a restaurant. To wonder if their parents just let them run wild and never discipline them. As the parent of two strong boys, I can tell you it’s exactly the opposite. Our strong boys require us to be hands on almost all the time. It’s tough and it’s exhausting. Many days it feels like we are spinning our tires.
But with strong boys we have to remember that this parenting gig is a long game. It’s a couple of decades when they are under your direct care and a lifetime of mentoring and loving. It’s looking at the things that can be so frustrating today and seeing how our boys with their stubborn and high energy personalities have the potential to become men who turn the world upside down.
So I hope this can be an encouragement to other parents with strong kids. You are not alone. There are other parents wrestling with scary smart kids with fierce personalities and stubborn streaks a mile wide. The difference is we don’t just see the kid when he’s being carried out to the car in the throes of a tantrum. We see the potential.
For those of you who see those strong kids and their parents who often seem to be knocked on their heels. Remember that these parents are doing their best to channel the energy of their kids toward a God-honoring future. Maybe instead of giving the stink eye as mom and dad try to wrangle the kids and and the groceries to the car you could offer to get the door or push the cart. You will make the day of those parents because, believe it or not, we feel every stink eye and judgmental stare and we hear those whispered comments. Next time try offering a smile or a helping hand. Mom and dad will be eternally grateful.
Our strong boys are a gift. Don’t pity us. Don’t judge us and assume we don’t parent or discipline. Look at our parenting the same way we look at our boys: a long game. It’s one that will have many successes and many screaming failures along the way but by the grace of God we believe that our labors are not in vain. So thanks in advance for the helping hand and the understanding smile. We need all the help and the encouragement we can get and know that we wouldn’t trade our strong boys for the world!