gaining the respect of your strong-willed child

strong-willed childI’m so glad my kids challenge me. In fact, my strong-willed kids are one of my greatest gifts.

Now I didn’t always think so.

As a people pleaser (now recovering), I spent many years just wanting them to be “good.” I didn’t like how they challenged my image. I gave in when I should have stood firm because I looked to them for validation. I was uncomfortable and resentful when their behavior pushed me to be tough and set boundaries. The conflict and pushback made me want to run and hide.

So I often offered second, third and fourth chances, when I should have simply given consequences. Took on responsibilities that should have been theirs, simply to keep them happy with me and avoid the turmoil.

I was able to get away with this — for a while.

Too much permissiveness just blew up in my face.”

They loved me, but they didn’t respect me. So my influence was compromised greatly — just at the time that I needed it the most. It made for an incredibly difficult and painful few years.

But God used it for my — and their — good. I was forced to see the damage my parenting style was doing to my kids. I had to rely on God’s help and guidance like never before.

I had to gain their respect — an uphill battle when you’re starting in the preteen years. So, mom, whatever mistakes you’ve made with your strong-willed child, I’ve probably made more. And yet I’ve seen God “redeem the years the locusts have eaten.” So many times I thought, “It’s too late,” but as I continued to do the right things for my kids, I saw progress. Slow, but steady progress.

I’m not going to lie. It’s been hard work. I had to ask God to help me have a long-term perspective in my parenting — because during this time, the short-term took a lot of courage and involved a lot of angry battles.

However, today, I have imperfect, but solid, healthy relationships with both my kids. I found these three methods very valuable:

Be firm, but stay under control

When they were younger, I set unhealthy patterns. I’d give in over and over and then the resentment would build up and I’d let loose on them with angry words and hollow threats. I was really mad at myself for not being stronger, but it’s always easier to lay the blame on someone else, isn’t it?

To turn things around, I had to take the emotion out of my parenting. I had to acknowledge that I was the one who really needed to change. I was the grownup. And so each day, I asked for God’s strength to be able to stand firm — calmly. I messed up a lot a first. Then, I’d do great for a while and then have a blowout. But as I persevered, I was developing better habits. And as I got calmer and more rational, my kids did, too. It was likely throwing a bucket of cold water on a fire.

Be consistent, but flexible

Here’s what I’ve found: Whenever I tried to start a new healthier boundary or pattern with my kids, they pushed back — a lot. But when they saw that I meant business and that I was serious about enforcing a boundary or routine, it didn’t take very long for them to accept it and not complain.

We think our strong-willed kids want us to just give in and back down. But I’ve found that strong-willed children respect strength. When you stand up to them and show resolve and consistency, they usually see you with new eyes. You think they want their own way, but really they want boundaries.

Be loving, even when they’re being rotten

Strong-willed kids have a lot of strong emotions. They can be difficult. But I think they need to know that we love them no matter what. That they’re not a “pain” that we’re just putting up with. That it’s not just about rules and getting them to “behave.” It’s because we love them and want what’s in their best interests.

At times, I’ve found showing them love — a hug or an “I love you” — when they’re being difficult can be very disarming. It tends to break down walls.

It’s taken time, but I’m not afraid that my strong-willed kids won’t like me anymore.

I have their love and respect. They have mine. And that’s much more valuable for all of us. 

Melinda Means

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the goodness of good friday

Good FridayThe true goodness of Good Friday must be remembered. 

Good Friday is good and holy. The goodness of this day will forever hold the Truth about who Jesus is and why He died for all.

Jesus’ death on the Cross means:

Jesus died for us. Yes, us. The moms who are working hard to raise up children to be men and women of God. Our good is not measurable. His is.

Jesus died for our children. Whether or not our children accept that He did is completely out of our control. However, we must show them. By giving them the Truth, over and over, they hopefully will know it in their heart.

Jesus died for everyone. All of God’s people for all of eternity are covered with the Blood that was shed at the Cross. That’s an amazing feet for someone whom some called dead.

But remember, the true goodness in Good Friday is that it’s not over on Good Friday. The cross was actually in the middle of the Passion of Our Lord. When He celebrated the Last Supper, His fate was sealed and revealed to all of us.

oh, taste and see cards from FamilyLife’s Ever Thine Home Collection

Jesus’ journey to the cross was an eventful one. It’s a journey that was full of God’s suffering, grace and redemption.

Embrace Holy Week by incorporating this journey into your family life.

What will you do to tell the Greatest Story in the world? Because, remember….

It’s not just a story. It’s Truth. And Truth must be shared.

These 8 double-sided cards with illustrations from Ever Thine Home are from a vintage Easter book. They unveil Jesus’ amazing journey to the cross. Read them at a candle-lit Easter brunch or dinner to revere and honor the Savior of the world.

And His story, which became our story of redemption and love. 

We love the Oh Taste and See Easter Cards, part of FamilyLife’s Ever Thine Home® Easter Collection (affiliate).

Mothering From Scratch readers can receive a 15% discount. Just click here and type in “Scratch” at checkout!


They are beautifully made and reflect the wonder of the Easter season. Enjoy them with your family as you share the Good News of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection.

* Mothering From Scratch is a part of the EverThine Home® (the holiday and home collection from FamilyLife) Affiliate program. We each received a set of the Oh Taste and See Cards at no cost from EverThine Home®. However, all opinions expressed are our own.

family easter traditions with a life-changing message

What Jesus did on the cross more than 2,000 years ago is just as real, relevant and powerful today as it was back then.

His sacrifice is our salvation.

It’s a message that I want to pass down to my children at every opportunity. Easter gives us so many ways to focus on the hope we have in Jesus.

FamilyLife’s Ever Thine Home® (affiliate) Easter collection gives you some amazing products that make sharing the Easter story captivating and meaningful for you and your family.

And right now, all products in their Easter collection are 15% off for Mothering From Scratch readers. Just type in “Scratch” at checkout.

Resurrection Eggs

We have both used Resurrection Eggs with our kids many times. (Melinda) I hosted several Easter parties for my kids and their friends when they were younger. As part of the festivities, I used the Resurrection eggs to go step-by-step through the story of Jesus’ death and resurrection. The kids were always excited and captivated by the story! Some had never heard it before.

As you read the Easter story, the child opens each egg and finds a surprise inside — a symbol of Jesus’ journey to the cross. It’s a great way to connect while reliving the events of those history-changing hours.

Resurrection Eggs


Behold the Lamb with Chain Garland

You can walk through Holy Week with these 8 simple read-aloud cards teaching Jesus’ I AM claims. However, these cards can be used at any time of year. And Behold the Lamb cards are well-suited for both younger and older children. This product includes a chain garland to display the cards and a beautiful “I AM insert” that attaches in the middle. The Chain Garland can be used year round to display family photos and artwork.

Behold the Lamb


Both of these products can be used year after year, establishing meaningful family Easter traditions that will remind your kids of life-changing Truths long after they’re grown and gone.

The Easter story is timeless. It’s not just a part of history. It’s the reason we have a future.

* Mothering From Scratch is a part of the EverThine Home® (the holiday and home collection from FamilyLife) Affiliate program. We each received a set of the Resurrection Eggs and Behold the Lamb cards with Garland at no cost from EverThine Home®. However, all opinions expressed are our own.