“She’s so alert!” people would say to me as they admired my bright-eyed, red-headed bundle of joy. As a new mom, I didn’t know any differently. “Don’t all babies stay awake this long?” I thought. “Aren’t most babies attached to their moms and refuse to go to anyone else?” Apparently not…
The more I observed my daughter, I began to realize I had been blessed with a child that has a high need personality. This is not a disorder or something “wrong” with my daughter. God created her just the way she is supposed to be. It is simply a way to describe children that require a lot of interaction and attention, particularly with and from their parents. While high need babies and toddlers can be clingy and extremely active, their curiosity and tenaciousness allows them to learn quickly and try new things when properly guided and made to feel secure.
While I hesitate to label my daughter as “high need” or “spirited” because I don’t like the idea of labeling people, I have come to realize that characterizations doesn’t always have to have a negative connotation. I would much rather someone describe my child as high need and see it has a positive attribute than focus on and criticize the difficult aspects that often come with this personality.
Why I’m Glad My Firstborn Is High Need
(In No Particular Order)
1. It has forced me to “die to myself” and put my daughter’s needs above my own. Selfishness is not much of an option when parenting a high need baby. While I believe down time is crucial to avoid burnout, it is necessary to realize that mommy time is a privilege, not a right.
2. I have learned that patience is a must-have virtue. People often say not to pray for patience because you will be tested, but I strongly disagree. I often cry out to the Lord to grant me the grace to lovingly respond to my daughter’s needs. I have far from perfect in this area, but strive daily to grow more patient as a parent.
3. It has helped me realize how unique each individual is. God created my daughter and her strong personality for a reason. Who am I to question His will? Every person has different characteristics for a reason.
4. I rely more on the Lord for strength. Having a high need child can be exhausting, but God is always faithful to encourage me or give me much needed rest when I become weary.
5. I better empathize with other parents. I will be honest. Before I became a parent I was a little judgemental of some parent’s parenting decisions and their misbehaving children. While I still struggle with this, I am much more understanding and compassionate toward other parents.
6. It has required me to rely on wisdom from God for my parenting decisions. As I recently shared, only the Lord can give us perfect parenting instructions. Parenting books, articles and advice from others can be helpful tools, but should never replace or take precedence over the Word of God.
7. I care less about what people think about me or my child. This has been a difficult lesson for me to learn. I still cringe when people make comments about my clingy daughter, but God is slowly refining my heart and mind and setting me free from pride and the approval of others.
8. I have learned to fall asleep quicker. Those of you who have been with me since the beginning of my blogging adventure may remember that I struggled with insomnia quite a bit in the past. No more! God has taken care of that issue by giving me a child that ensures I am exhausted by the end of the day. 😉
9. It has forced me to become a more creative and outgoing person. As an introvert, I would be perfectly happy curled up on the couch with a book or hiking by myself in the woods. My daughter has given me a reason to broaden my scope of entertainment and requires me to develop better interpersonal relationship skills that I often shy away from.
10. I will be a better mother to my future children because of the lessons I have learned. At the end of the day, I know that all the parenting techniques and knowledge I am gaining by raising my high need child will better equip me to mother more children. I believe what I am learning will be especially helpful when becoming an adoptive parent in the future,
While having a high need child can be demanding and difficult at times, the blessing far out-ways the bad in the situation.
“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good
to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” -Romans 8:28
What a beautiful promise to cling to in times of doubt and frustration! God has created our children to be unique individuals for a purpose. What some people may see as a negative situation, He views it as perfect and good. Let us all embrace in our children’s personalities, rely on the Lord for guidance, and watch in joy as they grow to be confident, godly men and women. Won’t that be worth every exhausting moment? I believe it will be.
What has your child taught you about parenting lately?