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If I asked you to name your weaknesses as a parent, you’d have no trouble, would you? You could probably rattle off five in under a minute. You might say you’re not patient enough. You might say that time management and organisational skills are your downfalls. Perhaps you’re not strict enough with managing screen time, or you spend too much time on your own devices. Maybe you worry too much about what other people think.
What if I asked you to name your strengths as a parent? In fact, stop reading this post and take a minute or two to write down a few things you do well.
It took you longer to name your strengths, didn’t it? Perhaps you felt uncomfortable tooting your own horn so to speak? Or perhaps you just had to think harder because strengths are just not something you routinely focus on.
It’s easier to focus on the negatives rather than on the positives. It’s a reality that keeps people like psychologists in a job. If Dr. Phil wrote a book on how to become a negative thinker, it wouldn’t sell – we’ve all already mastered it!
When negative thinking is hogging the microphone though, that's when it’s essential to take stock of what our strengths are. It’s the change in perspective that pulls us out of a rut.
There are days as a parent where you feel like you’re failing. There are many when nothing goes to plan. Sometimes you feel like you’re not achieving anything and that you’ve wasted precious time. On other days, you feel too tired to act like an adult, let alone be a parent.
Keep the list of strengths you just wrote. On the days you’re struggling, read it. Then read it again. Use the list to counteract the negative thoughts you have about yourself. Let it be a reminder that you have much to offer. See it as a tool for personal growth and add to the list regularly when you have a minute.
Your strengths are endless. Are you a good listener? Can you make your child laugh easily? Are you good at reading your child’s feelings and helping them name them? Do you bring a sense of calm to your household, or similarly, are you the one that brings the energy? Are you good at naming your child’s strengths? Do you make the best birthday cakes? Are you the first one your child seeks out for comfort? Are you the one that does the little things that no one notices, like restocking the toilet paper and refilling the soap? Do you prepare your child’s lunch just the way they like it? Do you do animated voices when reading stories? Do you engage in conversation about superheros or other characters just because your child loves them (even though the Frozen soundtrack now makes you want to scratch your own eyeballs out!)
Your strengths, great and small, are what add value to your family. Don’t downplay them – play into them; celebrate them; own them.
Your weaknesses are what give you the opportunity to pass the reigns to someone else. This is what allows them to add value to the family.
Don’t be discouraged by weaknesses – let them be a reminder that it's not your job to do everything, let alone do everything perfectly, all of the time.
And hey, acknowledging your weaknesses shows vulnerability; being able to do that, in itself, is a strength.
I'm married to Sam and I'm a mother to Henry.