(Inside: Why what you see as your child’s weakness, just might turn out to be his/her strength.)
Do you ever get frustrated with parenting? Then you let someone make you feel even worse?
I’d recorded a television show 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. Instead…
I found big feelings of inadequacy.
I assume the show was trying to empower moms, but somehow it went awry. They 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. It was vague and more “in theory.” 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?) So cue all the feelings of emptiness and discouragement.
So, to make myself feel better, I went straight be 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 a Target run with my little warriors – I just might listen, but only AFTER that experience for her.
These judgmental thoughts weren’t getting me anywhere, so I moved onto whining to my close friends. (Lucky them!)
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.
My racing brain added more ideas:
Our children’s weaknesses are also their strengths.
So, parents, when working with the hard aspects of our kids, we don’t have to jump into being the frustrated, red-faced, crazy authority figure who on the inside feels like a complete failure. Instead, we can tell ourselves: I got this. I’m going to shape this quality into something powerful. To do this, we can ask ourselves these two questions:
1. How can I affirm the good aspect of this quality, while teaching him or her that their expression of it is poor?
For example, the son who is freaking out because he lost at Uno three wicked times in a row, we can say: “I like your drive not to lose. That’s what you want people to see about you. What about channeling that into your next spelling test? Or can you think of a way to better channel this?” Then we can go on to explain the tantrum now is, well, not representing himself as a driven person, it’s highlighting immaturity…etc. Or after the affirmation of the good aspect of the behavior, there is the consequence for the poor behavior given, based on what your family rules are.
If you need help with basic parenting skills, Dr. Lemon is my savior. All his books are both informative, funny and empowering (affiliate links).
2. What activity can I sign my kid up for that will help shape the negative aspect of this quality into a positive one?
|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 what how they can apply this idea to their own lives?|
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.