Meet PeggySue Wells. She’s a single mom of seven and the author of more than a dozen books including The Patent and Rediscovering Your Happily Ever After: Moving from hopeless to hopeful for the newly divorced mom (Kregel).
PeggySue shares an anecdote about the importance of focusing on our kids’ strengths. As moms, it’s easy for us to focus only on the frustrating behaviors or attitudes our kids exhibit (especially when we’re tired). But PeggySue’s little story reminds us of the importance of doing otherwise. Enjoy!
Focus on Their Strengths
If you look for the bad in people expecting to find it, you surely will. (Abraham Lincoln)
I stirred cocoa in the kitchen while my second-born, Leilani, practiced piano in the living room. “Mama,” she called. “Was Bach a nice man?”
I sprinkled cinnamon. “From what I’ve read, I believe he was.”
“Good,” said Leilani. “Then he won’t mind that I’m fixing his music.”
Each of my seven children are unique. They possess different learning styles and enjoy different interests. So far, four have graduated from high school and college and gone on to careers. Our home has been like an art studio, a safe place for them to discover and nurture their potential. It hasn’t always been that way.
In the past, concentrating on my kids’ weaknesses proved frustrating for me and a negative experience for them. But I’ve learned to do things differently. Take Leilani, for instance. She’s sandwiched between two outspoken sisters. I realized this quiet, artistic child needed a different method of communication, so I phoned the only person I knew who played piano. Through music lessons, Leilani discovered a creative venue of expression, and music became a vital part of our family.
Perhaps you, like me, tend to focus on your kids’ weaknesses rather than their strengths. If so, here are a few tips that, if followed, will turn things around:
1) Celebrate the As and Bs on a report card rather than the C.
2) Provide opportunities to volunteer in the community in their area of interest. This is a natural way to connect them with experienced mentors.
3) Feed their learning style. For reluctant readers, listen to recorded books. When workbooks are not a favorite, give hands-on projects.
4) Listen to their hearts. What does your child talk about that makes their eyes light up? How can you give them opportunities in that field? For instance, one daughter is interested in archeology. Through the university, I found a local dig she could participate in.
Like throwing cooked spaghetti at the kitchen wall and seeing what sticks, I’ve introduced my children to a vast menu of experiences and topics. The way I figure, everyone can learn something about anything. Some learners will be prodigies. Others will be generalists – good at multiple skills. Discovering, developing, and celebrating their strengths rather than focusing on their weaknesses has become a delightful process of recognizing each one’s uniqueness and equipping them with the confidence to even fix Bach’s music.