moms, recognize your strengths!

Even the best, most accomplished mothers I know, belittle their own skills, “My poor kids. I’m a bad mom.”  (Martha, I’m talking to you.) I think we need to change this attitude. As mothers we need to recognize our strengths.

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Last fall, when Ben deliberated changing majors, he sought advice from many sources, including my friend Jacque, a highly successful executive and mother of four. She wrote:

I would never have guessed as a Humanities undergraduate that I would like or be good in the business world, but it plays into my natural personality and skills: being intuitive about people and situations, dealing with fast-paced and high stress environments, being a diplomat with people who are difficult to get along with, diffusing arrogant and stubborn people, creatively solving problems, multi-tasking and making people feel comfortable. These a few of the things that come naturally to me and things that I have developed and refined as my career has progressed. 

So I would ask you to think a bit about the following:  What are your strengths?  What are you good at?  And what do you like to do? 

Grateful for my friend’s advice to Ben, I was also struck by her honest self-assessment. Do you know any women who would or could make similar statements about their mothering abilities? Probably very few. We tend to focus on our mistakes: the time we lost our temper, the parent teacher conference we forgot…

As I talked to Erik about this phenomenon, he said, “Jacque’s been in the business world a long time. She’s probably had several employee evaluations where she was required to list her skills. In the business world, we like to teach people to focus on their strengths.”

Erik told me about an evaluation system called SWOT: strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. See you’re already jumping ahead aren’t you? Doesn’t this seem like the perfect tool for parenting?

I made up the document below for a group of mothers last fall and we had a great time filling in the sections and a fantastic discussion. You can test my techie skills by clicking on the image or the link below which should take you to a two page PDF.

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download PDF 

Strengths– list ten. When the women in our group struggled to fill in every slot, their friends immediately offered ideas. These don’t need to be profound. 

Weaknesses– only three. Sorry. And no scribbling in the margin allowed. No one can work on more than three weaknesses– or really even one– at a time.

Opportunities– you’re certainly allowed to scribble in the margins on these. Include friends, education, service, church, the new library down the street and movies at the park (Unplugged! That’s a great opportunity!)

Threats– you’ll have a unique list. For my family: over scheduling, media, bullies, sugar…

Try it out, see what you think. I’ve made the form gender neutral for both moms and dads, but fill it out separately the first time around– your strengths are your own. 

I pray my friend Jacque, a humble, gracious Southerner, forgives me for spotlighting her. But knowing her and her family up close, I see how her business strengths transfer to her mothering. She’s bold and confident, unafraid to be different and endlessly compassionate. Her children (ages 22, 19, 16 and 13) adore her and crave her company. 

I’ll repeat her plea:

So I would ask you to think a bit about the following:  What are your strengths?  What are you good at?  And what do you like to do? 
Let me know, send me your list or leave it in the comments. I’ll be happy to cheer you on.

March 24, 2014



  1. Cath

    March 23, 2014

    Just printed your pdf (yes, you are techie! way to go!). Self-assessment is always helpful. xoxo

  2. Michelle

    March 23, 2014

    I love SWOT analyses!

    Can I share one thing I’m learning in my own personal growth process? I am finding that the more I can gratefully and boldly acknowledge the gifts God has given me, and follow the Spirit in using them, the easier it is to acknowledge my weaknesses in a more direct manner. It has helped me to come to realize that it’s not my job to fix all of my weaknesses. I acknowledge them to God and then turn them over to Him and then wait to see which one(s) He wants me to focus on at any given time.

    A former stake president friend pointed out to me that Ether 12:27 says that GOD will show us our weakness. We often focus on what WE think we should fix, but His way is different. He shows us what is He wants us to see and what is amazing me is how much He covers while I work on my tiny little part of what my puny mortal self can do at any given time.

  3. Selwyn

    March 27, 2014

    I blogged my response (gaping blanks and all!)

  4. Claudia

    March 31, 2014

    I was guided to this post today. Thank you friend. Printing it now

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