Wednesday, January 9, 2013

the strong-willed child vs. the strong-armed child

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i've had some questions from a few people regarding some of my posts about my attachment style of parenting/natural parenting.  they've centered around how giving your child choices may turn out to harm them when they don't have a choice, how parenting choices can teach them to dominate the house, and that sometimes children just need to do what they're told.  here is my response:

God gave my son a strong will... a determined, questioning nature to teach me patience.
he was strong-willed even in the womb.  during the course of my pregnancy, i:
                            -was involved in a head-on collision that totalled my vehicle
                            -contracted Fifth Disease
                            -contracted Parvovirus
                            -was in the ER twice for dehydration
                            -was put in the hospital due to a botched foley balloon catheter insertion

my son was 8 days overdue when i was induced with pitocin.  the first day produced only 2 centimeters dilation.  the second day did little until the doctor broke my water, essentially "forcing" him out. 

as an infant and toddler, we didn't give in to every demand.  we instilled the natural consequences employed by many attachment parents and provided him with choices.  there are times that our attachment parenting style  confused with being overly permissive

a child that's constantly given into is the one society refers to as "spoiled".  this type of child uses the strong-arm technique and has learned that his/her words and/or actions can cause parents to allow the child to rule to roost.  granted, at times he has toed the line on domineering, but thus far, we've been able to steer him back in the right direction. 

God made my son perfect.  i won't treat him like a horse whose spirit and will must be broken to fit to my expectations.  i don't want him to follow me blindly and obediently "because i said so".  in an amazing post one this subject, the Hippie Housewife addresses this issue and states:

"Fear-based parenting is restrictive, reactive, and ultimately not rooted in reality. Because fear focuses on control and prevention, it actually restricts a healthy, age-appropriate independence as the child grows. Conversely, Attachment Parenting focuses on healthy attachment, mutually-trusting relationships, and responding to the needs of the individual child. The security and reassurance provided allows the child to grow into an emotionally security, empathetic, confident, and independent individual."

i want him to question {respectfully of course} why we ask him to do things.  i want him to understand our reasoning so he knows why our rules are important to follow.

i believe we have a God who wants us to implicitly love and trust Him.  but at the same time, it is unavoidable that questions will arise regarding our beliefs.  i want my children to explore these questions with me while they're young so that i am here to help them and avoid becoming one of the lost. 

God created my son as he is.  He made him strong-willed, stubborn, determined, bull-headed...whatever you want to call it.  but, he is who he is and i wouldn't change that for the world. 
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Coral05 said...

Hi! This is really beautiful. I have done a lot of reading on Attachment Parenting and have tried (very hard!) to employ these loving and gentle techniques. But, I do have a question and it is about violence and how to treat it/react to it. My daughter, now 3 and and 1/2 is amazing, incredible - I'm in LOVE with her! She has a very strong character (much more so than me) and expects to get what she wants. We certainly have limits and rules in our house, however try to give choices, etc... When we do not give in to some of her demands, she out and out hits us (and I mean, a slap across the face that stings or even a punch in the gut) - this is truly horrifying to me! Neither of us have ever hit her or hit each other and we tell her there is a strict 'no hurting others' rule. However after one of these outbursts there is always an incredible meltdown - shrieking, more hitting, etc... when we impose a consequence (a time out, loss of privilege related to the original reason for hitting, etc...) Any ideas on a loving approach to this? Thank you!

Allison said...

"i won't treat him like a horse whose spirit and will must be broken to fit to my expectations."
Well said!

Sylvia said...

This is a great post, Andie. I do so agree with you. Most Christians think the only way to parent is to instill fear, break the child's will, and always win! I must admit that when I first became a Christian I thought that this was the only Christian were supposed to do it. Thank God I went with my gut feeling that this just couldn't be right before I did any damage! Discipline does not have to be spanking and hitting. Jesus didn't teach that way! I have always hated the term child training too. My children are not animals that need to be trained!

Tosha said...

Totally agree with you, Sylvia and Andie! I can't imagine anything more opposite of the heart of Jesus than hitting a child!

maryanne @ mama smiles said...

I love that you see the beauty of your son as he is.

Kylie @ Octavia and Vicky said...

We have quite the strong willed child too - and a similar birth story, except that there was nothing that could force this one out into the world but a caesarean in the end. We were happy to have a healthy baby.
My husband and I also use attachment parenting and I know that many of my family members see us as being overly permissive. We can only do what is right for us :)

JDaniel4's Mom said...

My husband and I are taking a Love and Logic parenting class. We have been learning to be more of a consultant than a dictator.

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