"Good family life is never an accident but always an achievement by those who share it."- James HS Bossard
I sat my three-year-old down at the kitchen table yesterday and attempted to do a DISC Assessment (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DISC_assessment) of his personality and behavior style. My attempt lasted the duration of his snack – approximately four minutes – and was limited to the question: “how well do you work with Mommy?” As he vaulted from his booster seat, spreading a trail of dried cranberries across the floor, he said merely, “you funny, mom.” I can infer from his response and from the myriad of situations we face together each day that our personalities are not - simply put – compatible.
When I was a business professional I took the Myers-Briggs test and learned the same facts about myself that I garnered a few years ago after taking the DISC Assessment. I am a very high D (dominance – as in, I like it), lower I (influence – via interpersonal skills), lower S (steadiness) and high C (conscientious). Before children it was my way or the high way, following my passion and convinced that everyone would just be happier if they adhered to my worldview. Not surprisingly, I often had to revisit my emails to insert personal comments and introductory remarks to soften the blunt and direct request made therein. My fuse was(is?) short, my introversion high, and my adherence to rules and details strong. I have to believe that in my current situation – where three children and a delightfully steady husband participate in running the home – my D has died down and my C has disintegrated at least to the point where I can roll with the daily punches of parenthood.
How delightfully ironic that my third child appears to be an off-the-charts “I” – funny and witty and constantly engaging in conversation and requests (at least with me) and a low C – not overly conscientious about details, rules, or logic. A bright and beautiful star whose smile lights up our home and whose laugh defines “contagious,” my son nonetheless has a personality which hits me in all of my weak spots. Whereas I have worn earplugs to bed for twenty years, craving perfect stillness to fall asleep (though leaping awake at the slightest cough, creak or cry later on), my son seems to have a bullhorn in his voicebox, and a missing “off” button on his conversational flow.
While I can work with all different personality types in committees, classrooms and book clubs, at home I am dealing with a counterpart whose language and logic don’t quite match up to a discussion of how we might best work together; how, for example, he might leave me alone for a few minutes of peace when steam begins to exit my ears and I fail to draw breath for multiple seconds. I get to manage our differences all on my own, asking for help from friends and family, engineering a bit more quiet time in our schedule, and praying for a developmental leap (his or mine) that will bring us back to the bargaining table. Someday we can take one of those personality tests together, laughing heartily at the results, but highlighting the ways that our partnership can yield great results for all concerned.