Things I Want You to Know About My Strong Willed Daughter

I am the mother of a strong-willed daughter. The proud, frustrated, and exhausted mother, if I’m being honest, but that little girl? She is my heart.

My daughter is brave and kind and resourceful. She is ferocious and stubborn and unmovable. She is smart and funny and loyal. She is hard.

It is possible for her to be all those things at once, and I love each little part of her.

For me, the struggle comes when her strong-willed nature comes out in public. I see the stares, the clucking tongues, and I hear the non-stop advice about how to get her to “behave.”

But as the quote by Eleanor Roosevelt goes, well-behaved women seldom make history.

So if you see me out in the world with my strong-willed daughter, I don’t expect you to understand. I don’t expect you to know what our lives are like on a day to day basis. And I’m not going to give you a lecture on it when you correct us in a Chick-fil-A playplace.

But here’s what I wish you knew about my strong-willed daughter.

Smiling Girl with a bow in her head. Text overlay: A letter to my strong willed daughter.

She Is Proud

When she is faced with adversity, my daughter doesn’t dissolve into a puddle of tears like some little girls do. Her chin tilts up and her hands go to her hips. And if you don’t know her, you might miss the tears lurking behind her eyes, or the tiniest quiver of her lip as she tries to hold it together.

Her pride gets the best of her sometimes. It makes her struggle with being corrected, and stops her from admitting to her mistakes. It keeps her from showing her softer side, and it definitely keeps her from getting the sympathy other kids with more obvious reactions get.

But all those feelings? They are there, just under the surface. She is just desperately fighting not to let them show.

She is Strong

My God, but that little girl is tough. And I mean that in the best of ways. She can stand her ground against kids twice her age, and she does not back down from a fight.

Smiling Girl with a bow in her head wearing all pink with a hand on her hip

But she is also strong in the other ways that matter, too. She can make hard choices. She will sacrifice of herself for others. She’s got grit and determination and the power to push through things that are difficult.

She is going to be a strong woman someday, and as hard as that is in a six year old sometimes, it isn’t something I would change for the world.

She is Sensitive

She puts on a good show, but this little girl has a fragile heart. In fact, it’s why we so often see behaviors from her. She spends her life on the defense, trying to protect her delicate inner self from the world.

Little Lila with a red bow with white spots.

Someone will say something to her in passing, and she’ll think about it for days. It’ll come up in conversation for weeks. And she’ll remember it when the time to make her birthday party list comes around.

And it’s not because she’s holding a grudge (okay, maybe it is a little bit), but it’s also because she remembers the hurt that came with it and wants to avoid having it happen again.

She is Emotional

All of her feelings are big. Her sadness is as huge as her joy, and her tears are as heart-wrenching as her laugh is contagious. Her reactions are big because her feelings are big, and sometimes we just have to ride the wave of those emotions with her.

A Little girl in a blow up swimming pool

She is Filled With Big Ideas

My daughter has plans. She thinks of over the top parties, wild fashion designs, and has a layout in mind for the boutique she hopes to own someday. She fills notebooks with lists of things she wants to do, activities she’d like to try, and logistics for her various future endeavors.

A little girl holding out Quarters and Dimes

She puts her heart and soul into these big ideas, but, unfortunately, she’s still six. She lacks the means to bring her ideas to fruition.

So whether that’s throwing a party for all of her friends at Great Wolf Lodge (with whose budget, young lady?) or renting that empty storefront on the corner and starting her boutique right now (and who will co-sign the lease, Miss Thing?), she has a hard time putting these big ideas on the back burner until she’s old enough to be an entrepreneur in her own right.

She is Full of Integrity

My girl has very finite ideas about what is right and wrong. There is no grey area for her, and she has a hard time understanding why anyone would do the “wrong” thing. She will stand up for what she believes in– even when it’s not really any of her business.

Young Child rocking the Jojo siwa bow.

Lila is a sheriff in her own mind. She wants to make sure that people are following the rules (her rules) and meeting her expectations. She puts a lot of time and energy into policing others, and- I know this word is out of vogue- bossing them around.

I admire her willingness to stand up for what is right, but at six years old, she’s not ready to navigate the intricacies of ethical behavior. The struggle comes with trying to find a way to stand her ground while keeping the peace- something she has not yet figured out how to do with grace.

She is Powerful

Oh, but this girl could move mountains.  The first thing that her kindergarten teacher said at conference time was that “Lila is a very powerful little girl.” She is clothed in strength and dignity, as the proverb says, and she is going to be a very strong and powerful woman when she grows up.

Little girl walking outside a big smile on her face while she plays

When she grows up.

Because all of these beautiful, tenacious, and powerful traits of hers are going to serve her so well into adulthood. She’s one of those kids that you don’t have to worry about- she can take care of herself, and wherever she ends up in life, you know she’s going to be just fine.

But these traits of hers? They’re also not so socially acceptable in a six year old. She is told she is sassy, that she is feisty, that she is stubborn. And she’s learned over the years that these are code words. She internally translates them to naughty, or bad, or mischievous.

I need to teach her the other translations. I need to show her that these are positive, admirable traits.

But I need your help to do so.

So when you see my strong-willed daughter- when you see any strong willed little girl- try to remember the positive side of her traits.  See the magic behind that strength, and see the beauty in that passion. Try to project them into her adulthood, and try to see what I see. See her for who she is.

She is powerful. She is strong-willed. And she is loved.


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6 thoughts on “Things I Want You to Know About My Strong Willed Daughter”

  1. Love this! I can relate to much of this with my strong-willed son too, (and daughter, lol! I think I have two strong-willers over here.) I shared this on one of my Mom’s groups.

  2. This brought me to tears. See I know strong willed daughters well as I have had two of them. They did in fact grow up to powerful, kind, wonderful women. This little girl Lila has all the same qualities they do. She is the most enchanting, kind, hilarious, strong, tough girl that is also very girlie. I know this to be true because I am her so proud grandma (Mimi). She is and will be the littlest package with biggest punch and the sweetest soft center.

  3. All the signs are there that I have a strong willed little one, she even bosses the dogs and the vacuum around! This post was very helpful and encouraging to me! Hugs!

  4. This was so heartwarming to read ❤. She is a wonderful girl and a wonderful mother who realises what a gem of a baby she has. I couldn’t love this more.

  5. Oh my goodness…tears for days. I think I could’ve written all the same words when my daughter was 6. She’s nearly 26 now and raising her own feisty little boy and I must tell you that your endurance will pay off big. I absolutely revel in watching her as an adult. Thank you for hearing my heart!

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