First Born Mom Verses Strong-Willed Child

first born strong will

I am a first born. You either are one or you know one. We tend to be structured, reliable, driven, and controlling. If you need something done, find a first born and get out of the way because we will plow right over you in order to help you.

Whether it’s a first born trait or just my humanity, I am a controller through and through. I see the ugly side of this while parenting my own first born, strong-willed child who will not be told what to do. She will obey under two conditions: 1.) she understands why it is a rule, and 2.) she agrees with it.

Her will is stronger than my own. This scares me and thrills me all at the same time.

I try to instruct, protect, and control. When she will not respond, anger builds in me and I have a hissy fit on the inside.

Sometimes the hissy leaks out and things get ugly.

I have, on more than one occasion, said [loudly], “Why won’t you just do what I tell you?!”

Isn’t this just the way the enemy would have us respond? He pits sister against sister (be it by blood or Spirit). He tries to make the issue my will versus her will.

Division within the family of God, as well as kin folk, can often be traced back to, “why won’t you just do what I tell you?”

How would God have me respond to differences–and indifference?

I find it here:

God is the rescuer. Jesus is the hero. You don’t have to carry the burden for all your people, you just have to trust that Jesus does. Annie F. Downs

This does not mean I am released from the responsibility of parenting my iron-strong child. Nor are we released from standing for Truth when it is opposed.

I am, however, free from the burden to make other people holy.

It’s as if God grabbed me tenderly by the face and said, “Look me in the eye, Kelly, and hear this well: It is not your job to make your child holy. That is something only I can do. Only I have access to her heart. Your job is to point her to Me. You can’t do that if you explode during every conflict. Show her who I AM. I will do the work of transforming her into My image.”

Isn’t that God’s way? In His loving kindness, He leads us to repentance. It is the example I am to follow.

the kindness of God

In those hard moments when my first-born tenacity butts up against her iron-strong will, the tenderness of Love is the only thing that will cushion the blow. 

I am still working out what this looks like in my daily life. What will I do when she turns left after I clearly told her to go right? How do I respond when eyes start rolling and the shoulder shrug of defiance makes its dramatic appearance?

I. Do. Not. Know.

All I know to do is bow my head and raise a hand in surrender. I can surrender my first-born tendencies in exchange for loving kindness. I can surrender my daughter’s heart, which was never mine to own.

Lord, in Your kindness, lead us both to repentance.

Recommended Resources


“Rather than seeking mere behavior modification, sacred parenting points our children to their need for a relationship with God and his wonderful answer to this need.” Gary Thomas, Sacred Parenting


“God has given parents the unique opportunity to represent God to our children. We are not only charged to instruct them in God’s ways, but to share His heart.” Sue Detweiler, 9 Traits of a Life-Giving Mom

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6 Comments

  1. Kelly, I could have written this post replacing the “she” with “he!” My husband & I are both first borns. My son has been such a challenge to parent (he just turned 9), but nothing nor anyone has caused me to grow so much as an individual! When I can step back from my mom lens, I love his strong spirit & know it will serve him well in life. I wholeheartedly believe God entrusts us to guide our children to help stretch us and remember to turn our gaze towards Him. Thank you for sharing!

  2. This is beautifully written, Kelly. I, too, have a very strong willed first born and have had to rely on God’s enduring grace to guide me through. It is a daily walk of faith.

  3. I love this! My son is very strong willed but I have learned that I have to let him be who GOD created him to be and that includes allowing him to mess up at time. It’s my job to guide him and show him the way and the best way to teach him is to give him some very limited freedoms in making his choices. We talk a lot about choices in our house and I remind him daily to listen to his heart and spirit in those moments he’s faced with choices, in sum standing up for what’s right.

  4. Ashley Olinger July 5, 2015 at 10:27 am

    Kelly, I too am a first born and feel like you have written my thoughts and feelings. The struggles of parenting the first born by a first born are over whelming at times. Your post allowed me to see why my hubby (not a first born) does not seem to have the same struggles with our first born. Thank you to you and I look forward to reading more posts from you.

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