I was once told that the characteristic traits that first attract you to your spouse end up being the ones that usually irritate you the most about them once you’re married. I don’t remember where I heard that, but I think it’s good to remember. How we choose to see the strengths and weaknesses in those around us makes a huge difference. It’s all about perception.
For example, maybe when you met your spouse you fell in love with his generosity. Your heart melted as you saw him giving to those who needed his help. Once you got married, though, having your spouse give away things that were maybe yours or giving to the point that it made your budget hard to meet might not be so romantic.
Well, a few days ago I was feeling a bit frustrated with Miss Magoo, and that advice came back to me again. And I realized that most personality traits in our kids can be seen as either a strength or a weakness- it just depends on what we do with them.
With Miss Magoo, I was feeling frustrated that she’s such a negotiator. I’m not a perfect parent, but I feel like I’m pretty strong on consistency, so I was feeling frustrated that she still continues to push despite the fact that I rarely give in. Dan and I laugh that she is such a negotiator even to the point where she loses. Like if we tell her, “You need to eat 3 more bites of your dinner,” she will counter with, “How about 6 more bites?” It can be funny, but also frustrating, because sometimes I don’t want a discussion, I just want obedience.
So I decided that instead of seeing this trait as a negative thing, I need to choose to see how it can be positive in her future, and nurture that. Learning to negotiate is a great skill. And in situations where it’s acceptable, I want to allow her to have a say and negotiate the outcome of something. But I also want to teach her that there are situations that are non-negotiable, and in those cases negotiation will be treated as disobedience.
Another trait we deal with is bossiness. Miss Magoo isn’t typically a rude bossy type, so I’m trying to stop calling her bossy and see her as a “take charge” kind of girl. Who knows, with her authoritative personality and her knack for negotiating, she may have a future as a CEO. I don’t want to place a label on my kids, especially a negative label.
As far as Little Man goes, when he focuses on something, it’s extremely difficult to turn his attention to something else. This is frustrating right now, but at some point in his adult life, being a driven, tenacious man will be beneficial.
So I guess what I’m trying to convey is that if we try to step back and look at the big picture, we can try to see how the traits in our little ones might be used for good. And if we’re able to do that, then we can nurture their personality traits in a way that will be the most beneficial to them. I believe that God created my kids the way He did with a purpose. And I don’t want to try and suppress their personalities- I want to help them become the best they can be, with the attributes that God gave them. I believe that growing their personality traits intentionally will help my kids.
If there are personality traits in your child that sometimes grate at your nerves, I encourage you to look up synonyms for the traits you see. You might be surprised that there are positive words that have the same meaning as the negative words you typically associate with your child. I would love to hear what traits you are seeing, and your ideas for growing your child’s personality towards positivity.