Lessons With The Strong- Willed Child

Little Bear is 8 now. For those of you who are new here, he is my stepson, only in the fact that we don’t share blood. I have no biological children of my own. I’ve been raising the Bear since he was 3. Myself and my husband have him full time, and there is no contact from his biological mother. She has not been in his life in a few solid years now. It’s been quite the journey. If you’ve read any of my previous posts, you’ve seen the story, and how long and involved the court nonsense was, the behavior hurdles and all around ….. let’s just say it was tough.

Nowadays he is a good kid and it took an intense amount of work to get him there. This Bear of mine could be classified as a strong-willed child. I don’t go around classifying children, but as classifications go, the kid who is dead sure he is right and will battle it out until proven wrong…and then be pissed of when you proved him wrong….yeah that is my kid. I can’t say I blame him, the strong-willed piece, a lot of that comes from me. And I have no problem with this whole “strong-willed” idea because simply put, those are qualities that, if fostered properly can be abundantly positive as he grows older. IF FOSTERED PROPERLY.…I know, I get it. I’m working on it. We’re working on it. But today something interesting happened and it made a beautiful illustration for a totally necessary life lesson. It’s probably a lesson you’re having trouble learning, or have had trouble with in the past. So here it comes.

For a long time the Bear and I struggled in our relationship because he is my little mirror in many ways. I have historically not done well with being wrong (again, working on it) and therefore, he also has often felt the need to express how he is right. You see where this is going. A while ago I learned that battling a child was not only pathetic, but futile. You’re probably wondering why it took me so long to learn such a simple lesson. Well, don’t judge. I am willing to bet many of you have been there too. Often times, because he is 8, its just a matter of miscommunication, or something that he simply doesn’t understand yet. To HIM it all makes perfect sense what he is saying, to me, I see the holes in the story. But that is very dangerous. If you never let your children (or anyone you’re in a relationship with) speak their mind, and learn to bring about different ideas without stiff-arming each other, you’re pretty much screwed.

Yesterday, he was at a spring break camp. When I picked him up he insisted that the next day was electronics day and he could bring a video game. False, I thought, since TODAY was electronics day, a fact which I was positive of. Like many children, the Bear has been known to slide a few mistruths my way, sometimes on accident, sometimes as a sheer manipulation tactic. My go-to response would have been no, no video games tomorrow, blah blah and it would have been a battle. Because HE WAS SURE HE HEARD THE TEACHER SAY HE COULD HAVE THEM and it would have meant lots of pain for him and annoyance for me. So I went in a different direction when we got home. Since he was so positive that was the case, instead of me immediately shooting him down, I said, do you mind if I call the camp to ask? Part of me was waiting for the blood to leave his face if he knew he’d been caught lying…but the part of me that’s growing thought, who knows…perhaps he is right. He agreed I should call. Turns out he was told that. It was true.

Crises averted.

Fight averted.

I am a highly sensitive individual. As such, my intuition is normally spot on. This is a huge sore spot between myself and my husband. I can read this child like a book. I don’t let him get away with much. But sometimes, you have to trust your children, and sometimes, you have to take a step back and think….I could be wrong.

So this morning at breakfast while stuffing his face with strawberries he said “Our field trip is an hour away, that is why we get to take electronics. It will take so long on the bus.” When I asked where it was, he confidently answered the name of the next town over.

An hour he swears…but I know I can get him to the next town over in 10 minutes. No way he is going to the next town over today. Put 2 fighters in the ring…and again…you see where this is going.

So I tried my new battle diffusing attitude, and calmly explained to him that the town he named was about 10 minutes if I took him in my car by myself, but perhaps because they were taking a bus it was longer, or maybe they meant it was an hour both ways, or some other variation of God knows what he thinks they said, blah blah blah, I just said okay and let it drop. He did not. He wanted to fight rounds and rounds and rounds over this thing. I calmly reminded him that it wasn’t that big a deal to fight over, and we would check when we arrived.

Pro-tip – Kids are smart but they are not perfect at communicating. Believe them when your intuition tells you to, but stop making their every single word into gospel. Especially with regards to issues in the other house. Some could be true, some could be stretched. Be careful how much of their words you make into earth-shattering truths. This will save you a lot of drama in the long-run. Promise. Took me a long time to learn that one too.

Pro-tip 2 – It actually is okay to agree to disagree sometimes. We often worry someone thinks they pulled the wool over our eyes so we won’t drop it when it’s obviously going nowhere. Seriously. Drop it sometimes. Who cares who is right every single time?

Back to the story.

I get him to camp this morning and see the field trip location today IS an hour away…the field trip in the next town he was describing this morning is ANOTHER day. A simple miscommunication. As soon as we both saw it, he slinked back, embarrassed. Yet another moment for me to step up, or mess up. I said gently, “Buddy, it’s okay to be wrong, but that is why it’s best not to fight over every little thing. Be careful how hard you fight, you could be wrong.”

It was a good lesson for the both of us.

Today remember there’s no perfect formula for this. Sometimes you will be right and you have to fight for what you believe in. But relationships of every kind are not black and white. Be humble, you could be wrong.




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