Linebacker, quarterback and tackle are positions in football. Strong-willed, manipulator and compliant are dispositions in children. That means that sons will express their sinfulness in very different ways.
Some sons will fight their parents openly and relentlessly. They'll fight you to get their way pretty much from the time they learn to say "mama" and "papa". (These are known as the "strong-willed" sons.)
Other songs will try to smooth their way out of responsibility or just merely postpone it. They will use every excuse in the book, even resorting to going to mom as a buffer. They are great at using their witty winsome personalities. (These are "manipulators".)
A third kind of son will quietly and almost easily comply. This is the child who can slip under the radar, because you will breather a sigh of relief and say, "Finally, a kid who gets it." But let me give you a warning - after years of experience with watching compliant children mature into adulthood in good families I've known well for years. The compliant child is the one you must hone in on very closely. You have to work extra hard at getting to know him. And if in his compliance he begins to exhibit an unmasculine passivity, or unhealthy noncommunication and silence, this is the son you especially want to watch. These sons risk becoming part of the new passive-nonaggressive Seibfelds of our times. Why? Because these songs want to please, and they hate confrontation. So they find it hard to express their real and true feelings. As a result, they will simply go underground to avoid it.
Submarines run silent and they run deep. That's how compliant sons run. They submerge what's really going on inside of them. Do you have a son like that? Underneath this kind of compliant passiveness can be a harboring of feelings (legitimate or illegitimate) of hurt and anger. And the longer it smolders, the harder this son will be to reach.
Could these things be resolved through healthy communication? Sure they can. But if he isn't one to naturally expose his true feelings, and if for some reason he doubts that he will really be understood or heard, the underground anger and hurt will go on doing thier quiet destructive work. He may compliant now and easy now. But that hidden and unresolved anger will eventually turn him into an angry, rebellious young man.
Which is your son? Maybe you have one of each. If he is strongwilled, it could mean World War III. This is not a war of bombs and machine guns. It is a war of the wills. And this, gentlemen, is a war you absolutely must win. He's got to know that the world does not revolve around him. He cannot win. He cannot control your home. He cannot call the shots. Period. But when you wage this war, you must do it with calm, loving, but firm and resolute authority. Don't draw boundaries one day and then waver on the next. In war, there has to be rules. And your son must know that you mean what you say. By the way, the earlier in his life that you begin - age one is not too young - the better, and the more certain you can be of an early victory.
If, on the other hand, you son is a manipulator, you will need to see through his manipulation and let him know you see through it. Just because he delights you and knows how to make you laugh doesn't stop him from foolishness. In fact, some of the greatest fools are some of the funniest, most amiable people on earth. Obedience is not an option to be joked about, excused, or bargained over. Obedience is literally a matter of life and death.
What I am saying is that to be an effective disciplinarioan, you've got to know your son. You've got to know what makes him tick. And not tick. It's going to take some time to get to know him. Quiet a bit of time. Just that piece of information may tick you off. But it's better to be ticked off up front that miss the tick in your son's heart.
I couldn't help but try to identify my own sons. I feel that sometimes they switch between manipulators and strong-willed. In general, Kaden tends to lean toward manipulation. He has a bit of the compliant child in him. It's hard at times to understand what he's thinking deep down. Alex tends to lean toward strong-willed.
I love my boys and I want to be the best dad I can. The boys are now 6 and 8. The most important fathering years are ahead. These next 8-12 years will be critical for them. I pray I'm ready daily to take on the challenge!