Thursday, March 19, 2015

MotherStyles: Using Personality Type to Discover Your Parenting Strengths

I previously viewed personality typing as something moderately interesting and perhaps vaguely useful, similar to having one's colors done (supposedly, I am a Winter, but I have never actually used that information.)  However, when Amy over at Sunlit pages mentioned that she no longer feels guilty about not holding non-family birthday parties and that this book will validate any mother, I knew I needed to check it out pronto.  I too, am plagued by guilt over our lack of birthday celebrations, along with a slew of other parenting decisions I make every single day.  What parent doesn't need validation?

Of course there are limits to personality typing and it wasn't spot on about everything, but parts of the book were like glimpses into my soul.  Other people thought that way?  This is a thing?

Turns out I am a INFJ: Introvert, Intuition, Feeling, Judging.  Each letter corresponds the following questions: Where to I get my energy? (I)  What information to I attend to most? (N)  How do I make judgements/decisions? (F) And how do I like my outer world structured? (J)   I knew I was an introvert.  But the other letters were more illuminating.  Also, the interaction between the different letters gives even more insight, which is covered in the book.

When I have taken similar type tests before, it was difficult to determine where I fell.  (My scores for N and S are very close, for example.)  In previous exams, I felt the questions were more geared towards a professional setting and that influenced how I answered them.  For example, I would feel like I should be more rational in my decision making versus being influenced by feelings, etc.  The questions in MotherStyles, however, were based on everyday decisions/actions that I make in response to my family, and so it was easier to tease out my natural inclination.


A number of the introvert struggles rang a bell with me: Struggling with handling large family or large groups of people.  Finding the energy to maintain the pace of active young children and adolescents.  Responding to "on the spot" to questions.

Introverts can also be drained if they are also an N by keeping on top of all the Sensing (S) details of caring for children.  Also, If Judging (J) drains the battery too due to the chaos of children and family life.

This means I am basically drained of all energy all the time.

I felt like I had a number of Sensing strengths but all of the struggles of the Intuitive.  Ie: living in the here-and-now, keeping things simple, not starting a project because I can't get it all done, etc.  I am pretty evenly split between the two groups.  What clarified things for me were the tips at the end of the section.  For sensing moms, "taking care of me" meant feeding the senses as too much dullness and sameness is draining.  You can take care of yourself by getting more sensory experiences.  For the Intuitive, "me time" meant giving myself a break from reality by watching a movie, reading fiction or pursing a new interest.  That was a bell ringing loud and clear for me, since that is exactly how I recharge.

I had to laugh at one section where it talks about not wanting to start a part of a project you can't finish.  Mr. F. had recently given me a "you are crazy" look when I went off about not wanting to clean just the toilets when the whole bathroom needed to be cleaned, but I didn't have the time for that large of a project.

The strengths and weaknesses of the Feeling mom hit home: being responsive to my children's needs and struggling with multiple wants and constant demands.  Also struggling with separating my feelings from those of my children's.  I have a hard time remaining cool and rational when my children are spewing fire, so to speak.

I was pretty clear cut on my I and J.  I have strong preferences towards those.  I would love to be spontaneous (P), but I am not.  I really am a lot less anxious if I know what is going on.

According to the book, some types are less frequent in the population that others.  INFJ is one of those.  That can make one feel even more of an "oddball."

There is just a lot of information in this book.  It really is illuminating.  There are some people (E), who are energized by having kids!  This is mind-blowing to me as I find parenting to be so exhausting and draining All The Time.  But, now I know that it is a function of personality.  Some people just love all the details (S) and the chaos (P) and the interaction (E).  And it feeds their soul while it conversely drains mine.  The book also mentions working harmoniously with the different personality types in your own family.  My kids are a bit too young, but I can still see preferences starting to make themselves known.

I feel like everyone should read this book and then let me know what their personality type is.  I found myself guessing some of the personality types of my friends.  There is one mother (a mother of 8) who is so reasonable and unruffled when disciplining/raising her children that it makes me think she must have a strong T preference.  Another mother I know is always volunteering to take children for the day etc., and is completely unfazed by the ensuing chaos.  I am pretty sure she would be an E.

Finally, (I know.  This is a killer of a post), I love the tips, permissions, etc that the author gives.  You can embrace who you are.  You can say "no" to things that will over-extend you and negatively influence your family.  You can actively protect the activities that will recharge you.  I feel like I have been given some concrete data which shows that 1) people are different and 2) that differences are o.k. and 3) you can act on said data and not feel (as) guilty.    

1 comment:

Amy Johnson said...

I am so glad you read it and found it as helpful and enlightening as I did! I, too, was grateful for the applications to motherhood rather than business (just for fun, I took an online test after I read the book, and the questions for N vs. S made absolutely no sense based on my situation. I would never have been able to tell what I was based on those questions!). Speaking of N vs. S, like you, I also related more to the suggestions for ways an N can recharge, but I definitely am more of an S as it relates to completing tasks, etc. It's such a fascinating topic!


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