Saturday, May 22, 2010

Birthday.... Cake?

My husband's Peanut Butter Fudge is a family favorite (although I think the love of his fudge goes pretty far outside the family too). A "secret family recipe" passed down from his mother's side of the family, this glorious concoction was typically only made once a year for Christmas and parcelled out to a select few at work and church.

For the last few of years, our son Quinn has requested Dad's peanut butter fudge for his birthday in stead of a cake. The first couple of times we just made regular batches and cut it up to eat, but this year I tried to make it resemble a cake. From the look of it, I'm not so sure it was worth the effort, but I think it will taste as good as ever. I poured the hot peanut butter fudge into a chocolate crumb pie crust and decorated it with chocolate frosting. Yum!

We made two because he wanted one for the "party" day and one for his actual birthday, with enough leftovers to bring to rehearsal Wednesday night (bet you wish you were in the Fair Oak Church youth praise band now, don't you?).

So now, for the last several years, not only have we ended up making it twice a year, but last Christmas we made nearly 29 pounds of it to give away to friends and family. And if you only clicked into the story to see if the recipe would be revealed... sorry. Not happening. Only after Edward and I are too old to keep making it, we will pass the recipe down to Quinn who can take over the tradition. Sorry Derek, it's a "youngest" tradition.
If you missed it this time around, just wait. Christmas is only 7 months away!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Myers-Briggs and Family Dynamics

Although I began working with the MBTI as a business tool to coach staff and leadership, from the very beginning I saw the more global opportunity to apply those same principles of behavioral insight and communication to relationships outside the workplace.

When I’m working with couples, parents and families, there’s rarely a situation where knowledge and application of Type wouldn't benefit the individual communication issues so I frequently use it in those one-on-one settings.

In all the years I’ve been conducting MBTI workplace workshops and been using Type with families, I’ve never actually put the two together and prepared a workshop curriculum for marriage, parenting or kids … until now.

More of a draft at this point, I’ve put together and 86 page booklet (which needs to be much shorter), traded my tried and true PowerPoint for about a dozen poster-sized visuals and trying to take what is realistically 4 hours of material and hoping I can do it justice in the 90 minutes allotted for this maiden voyage.

After testing the waters with this upcoming “Personality Type and Parenting” workshop, my plan is to develop and deliver a more traditional ½ day workshop this summer followed by one targeted for married (or soon to be married) couples and one for kids and their parents together.

There may be other family oriented MBTI workshops out there (although, I certainly found no canned curriculum for one that a practitioner could buy) the thing I enjoyed the most in pulling these materials together was discovering that there are still things I can learn about Type and Type Dynamics and the challenge of figuring out how to best layer in a spirituality element into the program.

Although in the workplace, my workshops really must be straightforward and secular, the consulting I do “off the clock” allows me to choose opportunities that can reflect who I am as a Christian and incorporate Christian elements into helping people discover not only how they can best communicate in their earthly relationships, but perhaps look further in how they communicate in their heavenly relationships. How does a person’s 4-letter type and personality preferences impact how they communicate, love, parent and worship?

I don’t believe God and psychology are separate. And a parent can’t ever be the best parent they can be if they’ve checked God at the door. In reality, there are more formal resources (books, articles, websites) connecting MBTI to spirituality than there are on MBTI and parenting.

My favorite translation of Proverbs 22:6 is the one that starts “Train up a child according to his bent…” because it makes clear that God has hard wired us – given us a “bent” of some kind – with a specific personality that should be appreciated for what it is, not forced to be something it’s not.

I my search for new parenting and Type resources, I’ve collected a few trusted websites (along with a few new pages of my own) that may be of use to you in your parenting journey. As always, if you find other sites that you find reliable and consistent with CPP’s standards, please share them.

Internal Links:

Your Type, Your Parenting Style

Stages of Type Development

The Parenting Pyramid

Myers-Briggs (MBTI) Resource Central

External Links:

The Eight Personality Types of Kids Under Twelve

Personality Portraits for Children 7 - 12

Personality and Kids

Parenting Styles by Dichotomy

Children and Young Adult Personality Type Characteristics

Relationships and the Sixteen Types

Parenting by Temperament

The MBTI® Type Summaries Categorized by Temperament

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Your Type, Your Parenting Style

Myers-Briggs and Family Dynamics

Your ideas about parenting – what it should be and what it shouldn’t be – began forming when you were a child. A cherished moment with your dad that you looked forward to having with your own son some day, or the teenage declaration of “when I have kids, I’m never doing that,” there were elements of your mom & dad’s parenting that “fit” your expectations and style and some that did not.

Surely not an issue of “good parenting” versus “bad parenting” or of being a “good child” or a “bad child,” many of these style compatibilities and differences are due to your personality “Type” similarities or differences. And for any one who has two or more children, you already know, what may be the perfect approach for one child, will inevitably be the absolute wrong approach for the other child.

How can that be? They were raised in the same home with the same parents, with the same values and teachings, yet they are so very different from each other.

Or perhaps you find one of your children a breeze to parent (the one your spouse is frequently frustrated by?) and the other child, is just a struggle to get through to (yet your spouse gets along with that child fine.) The answer will most likely come down to Type – your personality preferences as defined by the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (or MBTI) – starting first with yours, as a parent, but also in the type of your child if you are able to discern it.

Most of us have fantasized that the best relationships are effortless. Whether it be happily-ever-after marriages, friendships that transcend time and space, or a bond between parent and child that supersedes the need to work at it. We'd all like to believe that our most intimate relationships are unconditional, and strong enough to endure any challenge, but the reality that all good relationships require effort.

Somewhere along the line we’re told this about marriage, and although we resist the idea that it actually applies to our marriage, eventually we figure out that marriage is actually work. What’s interesting is that we don’t naturally transfer that recognition of “good relationships are hard work” to our parent/child relationships.

For some, there is an inherent expectation that the parent will be a respected authority and the child will be compliant and obedient. That may work if both parent and child are Sensor/Judgers (SJ temperament) who have a natural bent for traditional roles, authority, obedience, loyalty, duty, etc. but SJs only make up 38% of the population (with even lower odds that both will be SJs), leaving a vast majority of parent’s and children with a natural bent for miscommunication, misunderstandings and conflict.

Although different relationships have very different characteristics and specific needs, there are two basic areas which seem to be critical to the success of all relationships: Expectations and Communication.

What do we expect from ourselves and the other person involved in the relationship? How do we communicate these expectations, and our feelings and opinions to the person in the relationship? And (most importantly) how does our personality Type affect our expectations and methods of communication?

As a parent, knowing your own Type is a good start, but having a knowledge and understanding of the personality preferences of the other people in the home can substantially improve communication, level-set expectations and reduce conflict (see Parenting Pyramid).

For more information about Type and the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, visit the Myers-Briggs (MBTI) Resource Central.

“Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord. Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged.” - Colossians 3:20-21

For more information about Type and the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, visit the Myers-Briggs (MBTI) Resource Central.

Stages of Type Development

As children grow and develop, their personalities take shape and the typological preferences that influence their actions and attitudes begin to reveal themselves through observable behaviors.

Ages 2 to 6
For children between the ages of 2 to 6, the “attitudes” of energy flow and outer-world orientation begin to show themselves allowing us to identify 2 out of 4 of the preferences, the first and the last letters of the four letter Type. From observing their behaviors, we can recognize:

Extraverted Perceivers (EP)
Introverted Perceivers (IP)
Extraverted Judgers (EJ)
Introverted Judgers (IJ)

Ages 7 to 12
Between the ages of 7 and 12, the child's auxiliary function is often not exercised enough to be recognized through observed behaviors. The dominant function, determined by their outer-world orientation, is much more obvious. Accordingly, we can identify 3 out of 4 of the personality preferences for children aged 7-12. They are as follows:

Extraverted Sensing (ESP)
Introverted Sensing (ISJ)
Extraverted Intuition (ENP)
Introverted Intuition (INJ)
Extraverted Feelers (EFJ)
Introverted Feelers (IFP)
Extraverted Thinkers (ETJ)
Introverted Thinkers (ITP)

To narrow in on all four preferences for the 7 -12 group, there is an MBTI based assessment called the Murphy-Meisgeier Type Indicator for Children®. The MMTIC is designed for Type assessment up to the age of 18, but since the MBTI is written on a 7th grade level, children 13 and up can typically take the traditional MBTI for assessment.

Ages 13 and Up
By the age 13, a child's baseline personality is fairly set, and we can usually identify which of the sixteen "adult" personality types a teenager fits into through observable behaviors as well.
Adult Type Development
Type development is the life-long process of gaining greater command over the functions of perception and judgment. This implies a greater sense of quality in their use.

Type theory asserts that we each have and use all four of the “functions” (S, N, T and F) but, as driven by our preferences, we use them in a specific and strict order – Dominant, Auxiliary, Tertiary and Inferior. In layman’s terms, we develop our preferred functions first, then our non-preferred functions.

The stages of adult Type Development are:
1. Development of excellence in the favorite, dominant process.
2. Adequate but not equal development of the auxiliary for balance.
3. Use of each of the four functions for tasks for which they are best fitted.

In theory, full type development occurs by the time a person reaches the age of 50 and, although Type is hard-wired and doesn’t change, someone with fully developed preferences and non-preferences can demonstrate behaviors as both S & N and both T & F as needed in any given circumstance.

For more information about Type and the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, visit the Myers-Briggs (MBTI) Resource Central.

The Parenting Pyramid

Myers-Briggs and Family Dynamics

Just like the nutritional food pyramid that advocates fruits and vegetables as the foundation of a healthy diet, followed by grains and dairy, and then a sparing consumption of fats and sugars, the balanced “nutrition” of parenting uses a similar pyramid showing where to put your attention for healthy family dynamics and effective parenting.
The foundation to healthy parenting is to first, know yourself. Knowing and understanding your personality preferences through Myers-Briggs is a good start. Being aware of how your preferences influence how you parent will help you be more aware of alternative styles and approaches when conflict arises.

Knowing and understanding the personality Type of your spouse and children can greatly enhance the communication and help establish clear and reasonable expectation within the family dynamics.

Ultimately, the more you know and understand yourself and the other members of the family and what motivates the actions they take and the decisions they make, the easier it is to anticipate behavior, adjust the communication style to turn a potential problem into a “teachable moment” and reduce the volume of correction, discipline and punishment needed.

Parents are freed up to focus on connecting with and loving their kids in a way that resonates with their Type. Learning how to communicate and adapt to each other’s needs and styles will replace the volume of time spent on conflicts and arguments. Discipline will get the least of the family time and attention.

“Listen, my son, to your father's instruction and do not forsake your mother's teaching. They will be a garland to grace your head and a chain to adorn your neck.” - Proverbs 1:8-9

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Hesitant to Pray

On this National Day of Prayer, I might have spent my morning quiet time with God the way I always do, praying the things I always pray, but for some reason I was more struck by the things that are hard for me to pray for.

I frequently pray for my leadership (church, work and country) because I see that as not just a Biblical directive, but essential key to successful and Godly outcomes and I have witnessed the fruits of those prayers time and again.

I easily pray for my friends’ and co-workers needs, like the Dowdy family needing a home in Toronto or for my colleague Rich to come through his second back surgery with full recovery and minimal pain or for the 15% of my staff that I’ve had to lay off in the last 2 months…

Where I really struggle is praying for myself or my own needs. God has been so good to me. I feel abundantly blessed far beyond what I could ever be worthy enough to receive or deserve that I feel like praying for anything at all for myself is an ungrateful dismissal for all that the Lord has already provided.

For example, our family has faced some pretty significant financial challenges over the past two years with Edward being out of work, but through it all I have faithfully put God first in my finances and never missed a tithe, and God has faithfully taken care of us, stretching our single income and meager savings far longer and further than I would have ever dreamed possible. Now, as those reserves get ever smaller and the nation’s unemployment rate reaches historical record highs, the prayers for Edward to find gainful employment should be the easiest thing for me to start my prayers with, yet they are not. I should be asking my friends and church family to pray for his employment, yet I do not. Each Wednesday in Chapel when Pastor Philip asks for prayer requests I know I should be raising my hand and asking, each and every week, for everyone to pray for Edward’s job search, that God would lead him to the job he’s supposed to find… yet I sit silent. Why?

There’s this fine line I have trouble reconciling about my will and God’s will. How dare I question God’s plan for this chapter of our lives by suggesting that we need something He didn’t already think of? It’s like I can hear God’s retort, “What do you mean, Edward needs a job? Haven’t I taken care of you? Hasn’t every bill been paid? What… are you all about the money now? Have you suffered? Didn’t I cure your cancer? How could you be so ungrateful? Don’t you trust Me?”

If I’ve learned nothing else in this life it’s that God’s plans are always better that my plans and to trust Him. When things aren’t going according to “my plan” it’s because His plan is taking over and there is a purpose. Even if I can’t discern that purpose in the moment (or perhaps ever) I trust Him.

So I find myself in the throws of these somewhat disingenuous convoluted-wordsmithed prayers that, “God, if it’s part of Your will…” or “God, if it’s not contrary to Your will…” or “as long as this doesn’t impede on Your plan, God…” How silly is that? I can have a good, sincere, natural conversation of prayer with God, right up until I get to something for myself.

Help me out here. Does anyone else experience this, struggle with this? How do I reconcile my “want” with God’s “will” …?