As parents, we are often called upon to draw the proverbial “line in the sand” for our kids. Another word for that line is simply boundaries. We create boundaries and establish consequences for crossing them to protect our children and to give them guidance as they grow and mature.
Compliant children will rarely cross the line. Their aim is to please. They have no intention of choosing to suffer the consequences for hopping over the boundary that has been set. That is in contrast to a stubborn child.
Your stubborn son or daughter might react to the placement of that line in the sand and step over it without even thinking. The action is akin to the reaction you have when the doctor hits your knee with his little hammer. There is absolutely no thinking involved. He takes a swing at your knee and your leg extends. A stubborn child often regrets his reaction after the fact – especially in light of the reality of the consequence.
The strong-willed child is different still. He or she will not stay behind the line simply to please you nor will she cross the line merely as a reaction. Instead, the strong-willed child actually responds, weighing the consequences of the potential action. That contemplation is done in a nano-second. “Will I choose to cross that line? Maybe. The consequences didn’t seem too severe.” “Will I choose to cross the line? Maybe. The consequences won’t be pleasant, but I would be in control!” While most of us can understand the first thought process where the consequences are deemed inadequate, the second one is unique to a strong-willed child.
The key for you as the parent is to consistently and lovingly enforce the boundaries. That is essential to keep your child safe and to teach him the importance of releasing control to someone who loves him and has his best interest in mind. Initially that is you. Ultimately that is the Lord.
Have you ever had difficulty enforcing the consequences when your child has crossed the line? What works for you?