(Inside: Weaknesses are also strengths. Those things that are so hard about parenting your kids right now could turn out to be their biggest assets.)
Do you ever get frustrated with parenting? Then you let someone make you feel even worse?
I’d seen a television show advertised that boasted a new revolutionary way to parent. Me – Me – I’m totally in! I’m in need of a new idea or two. So, I flipped on the television in hopes of finding a little magic.
I found big feelings of inadequacy.
I assume the show was trying to empower moms, but somehow it went awry.
The host and author of the book raved about the success of this new way of parenting and sold it with such enthusiasm and authority, it made me feel like I was doing it all wrong. The problem is, I wasn’t really sure what they were preaching. The parenting ideas were vague and only explained in theory, with no real what-do-when-your-child-throws-a-huge-tantrum-in-the-cereal-isle solutions.
Here’s the message I heard: If kids still need work on areas of their lives, parents aren’t “enlightened” enough, so in short – big losers.
Yeah, uhmmm, my kids need work.
I need work.
And I don’t even understand how to be the “enlightened mom” they’re preaching. (And who’s in charge of enlightenment – whose standards am I trying to live up to? It seems like one of those ideas that sound good on paper but don’t translate well to reality.) So cue all the feelings of emptiness and discouragement.
So, to make myself feel better, I went straight to being judgmental.
The host, though seemingly brilliant, didn’t have children. I’m done with you.
And the author of the book, she had one daughter. I am going to give her the tougher parenting job award for the preteen and teenage years, but has she ever hung out with my always-in-motion boys? Once she’s done with a grocery store run with my three little warriors, I just might listen – but only AFTER that experience for her.
These judgmental thoughts weren’t getting me anywhere, so I moved on to whining to my close friends. (This show really had an impact on me!)
Thankfully, that unhealthy response worked. One of my good friends replied, “Sometimes what parents see as weaknesses in our children, can actually be strengths.”
My heart stilled as I focused on what she was saying.
My friend elaborated with this example: “Children that we might wish shared their emotions more or are more outwardly empathetic to others….well, we need first responders that don’t carry their emotions on their sleeve and can calmly assess a crisis situation and be healing hands for the hurt.”
Our children’s weaknesses are also their strengths. Hmm.
A whiny child might turn her drama into the role of a wonderful, charismatic teacher who can capture her students’ attention and inspire them to be great learners.
That child who lets everyone know he hates to lose might use his drive to lead a successful company, blessing all his employees and their families.
The strong-willed kids who challenge their parents might use that will-of-steal to NOT give up when others do. He might be the one to invent, discover, or cure diseases.
So, yes, I can see that: our children’s weaknesses can transform into some of their greatest strengths as they learn and grow and mature.
Now that felt encouraging. And manageable.
I can focus on not being so critical of my kids’ weaknesses; instead, I can see them as areas of strength that simply need to be nurtured. Asking myself these two questions seems like a good place to start…
1. How can I affirm the good aspect of this quality, while teaching him that his expression could be better?
For example, the son who is freaking out because he lost at Uno three times in a row, and stomping around the house like a raging dinosaur, I can:
First, help him to calm down.
He sits in his room until the high emotions have settled.
Next, Affirm his strength.
I can praise his passion to win, but also talk about other areas he could focus on “winning” that would greatly benefit him. (Spelling tests. Cleaning up the toys the fastest. Running the fastest in PE.)
Lastly, help him make the wrong right.
If he’s name-called brothers or thrown toys in his rage, then we need to make that situation right. Apologize. Pick up the toys. Do something nice for the brother you were mean to. What is the natural consequence of his poor behavior, and the appropriate action to show that you’re sorry and want reconciliation?
2. What activity can I sign my kid up for that will help shape the negative aspect of this quality into a positive one?
There are so many great activities to sign our kids up for that will help shape their weaknesses into strengths. For example,
- The kid in trouble for constantly taking his brothers down kid, ding-ding-ding…you just won a spot on the wrestling team!
- Overemotional kids, wahoo…acting class or dance lessons, let’s express those emotions there.
- Quiet, unemotional teen…look what I found online, a Certified Nursing Assistant class or an Emergency Medical Responder class – let’s check that out!
- Bossy kid…guess what, I just signed you up to work in the younger kid’s class at church. Let’s work on those leadership skills.
Parents – we know our gig is hard…so we never need to let anyone make us feel bad.
Keep moving forward, strong mommas – we got this. Together.
Do you want more thoughts on turning weaknesses into strengths?
TO EMPOWER PARENTS:
Read how Craig Ballantyne turned 3 weaknesses into strengths.
TO EMPOWER KIDS:
Watch this one-minute inspirational story with your kids. Ask them how they can apply this idea to their own lives.
We don’t only want to raise happy kids, we want to build character in our kids.
More than my kids being super successful or achieving accolades, I want my kids to be people of character – kind, loving, loyal, compassionate, empathetic, faith-filled, and integrity-driven. I’m not trying to raise perfect kids (not possible!), but I do hope my kids have an internal compass that steers them to lead a life of integrity. And while they are still in my home, I’m going to try to lead them there.
I hope you both enjoy more in the “raise kids of character” series and find it helpful.
Raise Kids of Character Series
FAMILY CONNECTION ACTIVITIES
A Family Connection Activity to Help You Raise Happy Kids
Why Your Kids’ Weaknesses are Also Strengths
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Cheryl is a mom of 3 boys, wife, speaker, high school teacher, and author of Empowered Moms & Kids. She has a Master’s degree in Educational Leadership and is passionate about learning and teaching. On www.empoweredmomsandkids.com you’ll find inspiration and encouragement for moms raising tweens and/or teens. Read more in the “about” section of this page.