I have had this post sitting in draft mode for almost a year now, but still wanted to share something that is working in our home of opinionated people, big and small. *grin* I also needed a reminder and encouragement to stay consistent and steadfast.
Let me begin by saying that having a strong-willed child in the home is a blessing. I truly look forward to how God will use them. Not just in the future, but in these days while they are still under our influence and roof.
On the flip side, it is quite possible to experience much wailing and gnashing of teeth with these spirited children in our home. Some days I question whether I'm really going to be the one to make it out on top by the end of the day. Parenting certainly is not for the faint of heart.
Like most parents, I have read quite a few books trying to help me improve my mommyness and understanding how to parent a strong-willed child. One of the best books I have read is The Heart of Anger by Lou Priolo. Strong-willed or not, I recommend this book for any parent. (Note - I have a newer print than the book through the link.)
One of the things that we put into immediate practice in our home was instituting an appeal process. A subject Priolo devoted a whole chapter to in the book. And it has worked really well for us.
Caleb enjoys a good debate, some might say argument. I've been told he should be a lawyer. I say it will serve him well in his interest of archaeology - refuting carbon dating and all that other jazz. But truthfully, this trait as his parent can be exhausting. And irritating.
Enter our appeal process. Priolo explains:
The basis of an appeal is the presentation of new or additional
information...that your child believes you as his parent have not considered in
making a particular decision.
This process allows parents to change their mind without having to sacrifice parental authority. It also trains children to communicate desires biblically without resorting to disrespect, manipulation and other manifestations of sinful anger.
It has provided a wonderful (and peaceful) opportunity in our home for Caleb to "feel" heard in a way that doesn't compromise our role as his parents. Here are the basic guidelines we use...
- Must be made with a respectful attitude and without a raised voice.
- Must provide new information for consideration. It has to be more than, "Because I want to."
- Can only be made to the parent who has given the insruction.
- The final decision must be accepted without further pressure.
Sometimes an appeal is granted, sometimes not. No matter the outcome, it has helped change some of the dynamics in our home. We don't get it perfect every time, but I love how it has empowered us all to have more meaningful and productive interactions. Something that will certainly benefit the children as they grow and go out into the world.
In fact, I should probably go ahead and add it back into my stack of books to re-read and see what other nuggets we can pull from it.