Any strained relationship can cause problems in a family. It is there-in that I feel Jason and I are left with a choice. We can choose to let the strain a spirited child can leave on a family, put a wedge between us as a couple or a wedge between us as parents and our children. That is what Satan would LOVE for us to do. OR we can choose relationship.
Right now we are working on making sure that there is a fair balance in the attention that we give both of our children. Olivia DEMANDS our attention. Mikail doesn't, but he needs it just as much. If we don't give him the attention he needs, then he displays some behaviours that we don't like to see. Mostly this is disobedience and general unhappiness. We don't want this for him, so we really have to consciously make sure he gets the one on one attention he needs. (Not sure how to best give your child the attention he or she craves? The 5 Love Languages of Children by Gary Chapman is an excellent place to start) Olivia easily gets this attention because she has such a demanding character. So, this idea of choosing to cultivate the relationship with both of our children, is exceedingly important.
Another area of choosing relationship is that of our marriage relationship. Often at the end of the day we are exhausted. Some days I could just fall into bed at 8 p.m. once the children are in bed, but that isn't always possible. There are other demands and needs that need to be met. One of those is our marital relationship. We try to spend 45 minutes to an hour together after the children are asleep. Whether that is playing a card game, watching a TV show together, talking, or dreaming together, it's time spent together cultivating our relationship. This is a must! I remember when we didn't do this. Boy does did that open the door for satan to do his nasty work.
We find Date Night hard to plan for since we are thousands of miles away from family~our good trusted childcare. But a once a month date with a babysitter hired to watch our children is a must. Other times we plan for wine and cheese after the kids are in bed. Something simple that is special.
Dr. James Dobson really encourages families to not feel 'cheated' or depressed by the assignment of raising a strong willed or spirited child. He states: "You are not an exception or the butt of some cruel cosmic joke. All human beings, including the very compliant child, arrive with a generous assortment of flaws. Yes, it is more difficult to raise an independent little fellow or gal, but you can do it! You can, through prayer and supplication before the Lord, bring him or her to that period of harmony in early adulthood that makes the effort worthwhile."
Yes, a spirited child can have a negative impact on the rest of the family. It takes hard work to make sure that this doesn't happen. Choosing to cultivate relationships within the family is key, I believe.