Saturday, May 5, 2018

Meyers-Briggs and Moms

I had started a writing project recently that had to do with moms and their varying strengths as mothers. I asked about 30 women to please tell me three of their motherhood-related strengths. I got all kinds of answers.

-imaginative play, using silly voices for toys and making pretend games really come to life
-trusting children’s instincts in ‘dangerous’ situations rather than hovering/barking out safety directions
-making a big, hot breakfast every single morning
-putting together theme parties, birthdays, fun events

Are you good at any of those things? There were all kinds of answers but I purposely just listed some that I am personally not at all good at.

It was all going fine and I was getting a great variety of answers, some which I myself was good at and some which I was not… but then one answer stopped me in my tracks. A mother I know very well in person shared a “strength” which I personally considered her greatest mothering weakness.
That writing project was halted in its tracks because I was so fascinated and intrigued by this idea. I think it’s very easy for us all to idealize a perfect mother, someone with at least three times the time and skills as yourself, right? In my mind, a “perfect” mother does all the things I do, except better. She also does many more things. But the idea that the very things I personally think make a great mother are someone else’s idea of, well, a terrible mother? This had to be explored.

I landed on a great book, Motherstyles by Janet P Penley. Motherstyles focuses on various parenting styles through your Meyers-Briggs profile. (I am INFJ which is apparently fairly rare. That makes sense seeing as I’ve always felt like an oddball). This book was enlightening in its own right, but mostly it was just fun. It was comforting, seeing my strengths written out and seeing ah, so that’s why I get so stressed out when I try to ____. It did offer some helpful tips. But mostly, it was just a blast to try to figure out the possible profile of all the parents I know fairly well and see what things they’re great at and which things they maybe are not quite so great at.

It was fun to see the way Ryan and I parent together using both of our scores, and it was fun to see how different dynamics played out in my own family growing up.

The downside is that it told me my personality type is likely to be completely devastated when her children leave the nest which I’ve always feared may be a possibility. I feel like I stood a chance at convincing myself I was excited to travel or something, but now I’m just doomed to be devastated by default and say, “Motherstyles was right!”

This was a very fascinating read and I’m so happy I have it! I know I’ll look at it in the future when I run into parenting snags. It’ll be helpful to realize, “Ah, I’m a J and she’s a P so I’m forcing my schedules on a spontaneous person but she’s being insensitive about how stressed out I get when I don’t have a set date. This is something we’re going to have to talk about.”

I of course have managed to live a whole life thus far without this information but I genuinely do think it’s made a huge difference for me in terms of that one person I first spoke of, but also even in my marriage, with my parents (My mom and I have 3/4 letters in common, which explains so much for me!) & brother, and even with extended family.

My cousin, for example, is an E??P. She’s planning a visit here soon and I could not for the life of me understand why she was planning to come over for so long each day or why she was being so lax about naptimes and bedtimes. She, on the other hand, couldn’t understand why I kept trying to crawl into a cave with an alarm clock. Now I understand her a bit better and I’m pretty sure she understands me a bit better too.  

I’ve also since looked up all kinds of Meyers-Briggs things. INFJs and homeschooling. INFJs and Christianity. INFJs as writers… you get the picture.

I loved this book and highly recommend it… but when I excitedly looked online for reviews, I found eight. All eight were written by INFJs like myself (and the author!). There were many more reviews which I didn’t read but I have to wonder… are only INFJs into books like this?! 

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