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:
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.
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.