I Am an Alpha Parent

“Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.”  Proverbs 22:6 (NIV)

Last time we were together I spoke about getting a new puppy.  We have adopted multiple dogs over the years and as a result, we have realized what kind of dog owners we are.  We are not an alpha dog family! Anyone who has raised an alpha dog knows what I mean…and those that haven’t, well, consider yourself blessed!

Some people handle alpha dogs well…they have the right personality to be the leader in their home and keep the authority, no matter how many times it is challenged.  My experience has been that an alpha dog will definitely challenge that authority multiple times a day and standing off against a 100 pound four-legged friend isn’t my idea of a peaceful household!




While in the process of selecting a new puppy for our household and investigating the different breeds available as well as the different puppies from different litters, I realized something.  I am the parent of an alpha child!  We have three children and one of my children would fit the alpha child definition quite well.  That doesn’t mean this child is bad…just like an alpha dog isn’t bad either.  It just means this particular child has the innate gifts to be a leader someday and it is my job as the parent of an alpha child to encourage and guide, consistently offer boundaries, and teach submission to authority while our child still lives under our roof.

When I started looking at our child through the eyes of an alpha parent instead of just with frustration at the many battles fought throughout the day, my attitude changed.  I have stated before and I firmly believe that God gives us the children He does for a reason.  He handpicked me to be the parent of our children just as He handpicked our children for my husband and I.  There is a reason I am their mother and as a result, I’m going to do my best to raise them according to His standards…continually asking Him for help while I do it.

I started putting into practice the same principles I would if I were training an alpha dog and I have to say…the results have been more peaceful.  Always in the past I would feel sorry for my child and think I was “picking on” him/her when I gave a direction. Now I lovingly give the request and then walk away.  I have never argued with a dog or gotten into a discussion about “why” the dog has to follow my directions, so I have started refusing to argue with my child.  And the results are noticeable.  Just as dogs are happier knowing that the boundaries set won’t move, children are more peaceful knowing the boundaries are just as tight, even if they instinctively fight them each time.

I think I’m finally learning how to be the owner of an alpha dog. However, I still choose not to fight that daily battle with a four-legged friend.  But…God showed me through the adoption of a non-alpha puppy that I am the mom of an alpha child and there is hope.  Not that my child will ever be considered a four-legged companion but I’m grateful God showed me a simpler way to express love and boundaries with this child while still under my protection and care.

I can’t wait to see what God is going to do in the life of this child.  All of our children have a God-given purpose for their lives (just as each one of us do) but if I can do my job right and help shape our alpha child the way God designed, I’m excited to see what happens when our child gets wings and soars.  I’ll be the proud mom standing on the sidelines cheering the loudest!


© Cheri Swalwell 2014

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