4 major personality traits that play a role in parenting

Recognizing the different roles you're playing in your child's life is an important part of parenting.

Parenting, like no other endeavor, requires that we look inward, reflect and analyze our behavior and emotions as well as continually meet the needs of others and ourselves. This is hard work and does not happen by accident. Nurturing Parenting offered by Michigan State University Extension is a series of classes for parents to do just that.

Becoming a supportive parent involves developing positive healthy interactions by looking at our own mindset and emotions. As noted by the Family Development Resources, “Each of us has the potential to care or to hurt. This potential is fueled, in large part, by the experiences we have had during our lifetime.”

One activity used in Nurturing Parenting classes is to identify instances we have experienced the following traits and behaviors.

1. What does it look like to be nurturing?

Think of how an adult cares for a child during bedtime rituals and bath time routines. As children get older, it may be a listening ear is needed to let them vent their frustrations. Creating photo albums and sharing memories let children know how much they are loved and nurtures their sense of security and belonging. Actions such as pats on the back, hugs, kisses and ruffling hair are important no matter the age of your child.

2. What does it look and feel like to be nurtured?

As adults caring for children, these are moments for you to recharge. It could be a walk, time at the gym, hobbies or a night out. Activities that refill us emotionally, physically and/or spiritually are important in order to continue giving and caring for others as our best self. Some family examples are movie night, biking, sledding and board games.

3. What thoughts or behaviors may be rooted in a perpetrator mentality?

Moments, actions and reactions that take away from positive parenting can stem from perpetrator mentality. It could be yelling, disciplining unfairly (without a chance for children to be heard) or harboring negative feelings toward family members. As humans with imperfections, there are times where we all will need to ask forgiveness. This is healthy for children to see in terms of relationship repair and reconciliation.

4. What thoughts or behaviors may stem from feeling like a victim?

We may fall into the trap of blaming others or feeling like a situation is out of our control. Examples could be, “they walk all over me,” or “I couldn’t help it.” These thoughts prevent us from seeing our circumstances or relationships differently. Once recognized, this may allow us to take different actions or steps in the future.

Recognizing and reflecting on each of these traits opens the possibility for change. Realizing our strengths and improving in areas of weakness is part of the rewarding journey of parenting. 

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