Remembering the Past and Learning from Experience

We were talking last week at MOPS about which strengths make us better parents. Which ones really feed into our parenting styles and/or how we connect with our kids. My top strength is Context – the need to look back to understand the present, to take a moment to orient myself in the moment.

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The controversial exersaucer

One of the best parenting books I read was Baby Meets World by Nicholas Day. It’s pretty much the history of parenting – how we’ve evolved as a society to this age of paci or not; breast is best; swaddles and back sleeping. Essentially, it says that we’re doing a good job in this era of information and that we’re all good parents. (Outside of extreme cases, of course.)

It reminded me not to overthink parenting, to trust my instinct, and to remember that not too long ago formula consisted of beer and honey.

Perhaps it’s no surprise that my favorite adolescent books were historical fiction, that I majored in art history, and that I continue to lean primarily toward books that draw from history to make points about today. If we don’t remember the past, we’re bound to repeat it.

Knowing history gives me a sense of stability in what seem like these crazy times. History keeps me grounded in a heated election year, in a time when the church is experiencing growing pains, and when it seems like we’re a doomed culture.

Being grounded in history helps me in my daily life, too. I know from experience that we need to leave around 11:30 to get home for lunch. That both girls just do better when we eat at home, with little stimulus, in preparation for a quiet afternoon. This certainly doesn’t mean there are exceptions – because, life. But, it means I plan our days around what I’ve tried and know what works.

This is the hardest thing about tax season and kids. Each year is so different. I can’t learn from the past because what worked last year most likely won’t work this year. Part of my survival as someone who thrives on context is also learning adaptability. It’s a reminder that, while we should focus on our top strengths, remembering to balance with other “lesser” strengths is important, too.

If you’ve done StrengthsFinder, what’s your top strength? How do you balance your strengths with reality?

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This post is Day 23 of the Write 31 Day Challenge. I’m spending the month of October writing about the StrengthsFinder test. You can find the entire series over at Live Your Strengths page.

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