We were working on my younger daughter's math the other day when she got stuck. She got frustrated, and she got stubborn. What should have taken just a few minutes to complete ended up taking close to an hour. Because she's stubborn.
Now, both my kids come by their stubbornness honestly. I've been known to tell my girls that if they think they're going to win a battle of will, they're wrong because they got their stubbornness from me.
There are days when those stubborn streaks in my kids drive me nuts. I wonder why they have to be so persistent. I get frustrated with their inability to move on or let go of whatever it is they're holding onto. Some days it feels like all I do is battle their stubborn wills.
Yet, that stubbornness is part of their personality. It's what makes my girls such tough defensive players on the field and on the ice. It's what makes them ready to stand up for what's right. It's what gives them the ability to struggle through a difficult time.
In the midst of a battle of wills, though, it's often easy to lose sight of those positive qualities of stubbornness and only focus on the negative. Our kids all have qualities that have the potential to drive us nuts. But most of those qualities also have a good side. It's just up to us to find it and nurture it.
After we struggled through the math lesson, my daughter looked at me and said, "Why was I so stubborn?" It was a great opportunity to talk about how we can let stubbornness work for us or against us. It's our choice. We talked about how she needs to get stubborn when she gets stuck, but she needs to channel that stubbornness into a thought process that makes it a battle between her and the problem, not between her and me. She needs to think "I'm not going to let this problem get the better of me."
When we focus on the positive side of the traits that have the potential to drive us crazy, we help our kids see the positive side, too. God didn't make a mistake when he made your child stubborn or talkative or full of energy. He has a plan for each and every one of those traits. He needs those character qualities to accomplish something great in His plan. But if we, as parents, can only see the negative side of those traits, then we often try to stifle the very behavior that God created for His purpose. Our kids are "fearfully and wonderfully made" and that includes those character qualities that have the potential to make us pull out our hair.
So, the next time you find yourself annoyed by one of your child's particularly frustrating traits, take a minute and examine how your child could use that trait for good. Find the positive side. Then talk it through with your child. Point out the frustration their current behavior is causing and help your child see ways that the same behavior could be used in a positive way. You just might see your child in a new light, and you will help mold your child's character to better be able to fill God's purpose for them.