Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Motivated by MotherStyles

MotherStyles: Using Personality Type to Discover Your Parenting Strengths has truly been an answer to prayer for me. Since I’ve become a mother I’ve often found myself comparing my mothering style to other fabulous moms and I come up short. I wondered if some women are just natural-born mothers. Perhaps I missed the necessary DNA.

I struggle with the homemaking aspect of being a stay-at-home mom. I’m not nearly as organized and structured as I think a good mom should be. Sometimes I get overwhelmed with all the physical needs of my kids. I see many moms who left their careers without a backward glance while I have grieved the loss of my built-in way of learning new ideas, engaging in stimulating conversations and creating things.

While I’ve moaned about my short-comings, I’ve forgotten what I am good at. I’m tuned in to my kids feelings and I encourage them to be themselves. I love playing with them and getting to be a part of their imaginary worlds. We enjoy pretending the swing set is a pirate ship and we're hunting for buried treasure in our backyard. We love to snuggle on the couch to read stories, have picnics in front of the fireplace on chilly nights, play games and so on.

This book uses the Myers-Briggs temperament indicator to help mothers recognize their strengths, understand their struggles and provide practical tips to reenergize themselves. Penley describes each of the personality types in depth so you can understand yourself and possibly other mothers better.

I found the specific tips on how each type can reenergize herself particularly helpful. For instance, as an INFP, I need at least 30-60 minutes of solitude a day to energize my introverted preference; I feed on new ideas, perspectives and dreams as an intuitive so I’m at my best when I take time to read, talk to an interesting person, learn something new, or daydream; as a feeler I need a break from others’ needs; and as a perceiving type I need freedom from a tight schedule, so I give myself unscheduled hangout time and break the routine once in awhile. My house is certainly messier since I’ve been implementing these ideas, but I’m a much happier mommy. And my kids are happier because I have more patience and energy for them.

The best part about this book is how validating it is to EVERY mother. There is no perfect mother. There is no temperament that is better at mothering than others are. We all have our strengths and this book helps us to value what we are naturally good at.


Elizabeth Joy said...

I will have to read the book. I'm a borderline E/I NFP. And really you told me what I need. I'm not a very good housekeeper and I need my breaks or a good talk with a feeling friend. I'd love to learn more.

Melia said...

I didn't know our temperments were so similar, but it makes sense :). I'm borderline E and I as well. Actually, for years I thought I was E. The reading I've done recently on this topic (MotherStyles, Please Understand Me II and Nurture by Nature) has helped me to see that although I may be close on this dichotomy, I really need alone time to recharge. I know that surprises many who know me, but that's the way it is.