A Lever, a Saver, and a Taker Walk Into a Bar..

Just kidding. They’re underage, and that would be bad. I’d have to address something, most likely something about my parenting. They came into my life via human birth, and they’re all different, even the identical twins. They are amazing people, the funniest, and I want to start a band with them like the Partridge Family, but they resist. Honestly, my kids are my greatest teachers.

If you have kids you probably know they come into the world exactly as they are, quirks and all, and it’s up to you to pivot your perspective, actions, and parenting philosophy to meet them where they are. Perhaps the best gift a parent can give their child is truly seeing, hearing, and knowing them for who they really are; just ask anyone whose parents didn’t or couldn’t do that. Kids don’t come with a manual or set-up instructions, and no two are the same. Like I said, I have identical twins, and they are very different in terms of how they understand & experience the world, sort & receive information, and evaluate the value of their time, health/energy, relationships, and money/stuff. All kids are born as they are, and their natures are intact.

Here’s the good news for you: knowing your child’s nature will help you be a better parent.

Examples:

#1 is a Lever, 17 years old. He’s amazing, very good with people, easy-going and accuses me of wearing mom goggles all the time. Finding out he is a Lever made so much of his behavior make sense: how he got his younger sisters to clean his room- before he banned them from it, why he stood to the side talking to the rest of us as we hacked through & removed the pricker bushes in the back yard rather than pitching in, or why he gets annoyed with teachers who, in his opinion, overcomplicate class time. He’s looking to see how life can be easier and how he can get others to help him so he doesn’t have to work too hard. He’s great at seeing systems & synergies, and he loves teams & collaboration. We are not at all similar in nature! I saw his behaviors as lazy or checked-out  before I knew his nature because I am an Earner and naturally value hard work. Now I gently point out that taking out the trash twice a week makes sense because if he waits and does it right before the trash truck arrives, it overflows in the indoor trash can and recycling bins, and the job is harder & more aggravating to him. Levers get pretty nasty when they can’t find the easiest, simplest way of doing something and will lash out at people they think are the cause of complication, so this is a win for me.

#2 is a Saver, 15 years old, the older twin. She is independent, talented, and I am so proud of her. No mom goggles here. Of course she’s a Saver: she’s always had little collections of things, hates spending her own money, is impeccably prepared for her day, and needs a nap upon returning home from anywhere. Always has, probably always will. The following is a perfect illustration of this kid:

Her idea of happiness is relaxing, and she will never hustle for anything. As an Earner, I can and do hustle all the time and have had to learn how to relax. I used to worry about her, thinking she was too isolated or missing out on the rest of the world. She is perfectly content to move at her pace, savor good food or good moments, make sure I am getting the right groceries each Sunday to prepare us for the week, and curate her aesthetic & wardrobe expertly. Supporting her means helping her understand that activites or responsibilities that may not be the most comfortable for her are worth doing because they can and often do lead to saving herself from too much hard work. She can also stand to hear a reminder that days of activities, like a family vacation or when she’s in a play and rehearsals get intense, she needs to remember that she will need time to rest and recover afterward. And that’s really ok!

#3, the younger twin by 17 minutes, is a Taker. That word carries a bit of baggage, but we don’t mean it in a negative way. My kid has been fearless, taking opportunities that come her way that many others would have ignored or avoided out of fear. She wanted to play the trombone, so she joined the band and learned trombone. She wanted to have sushi for dinner, so she rolled her own. Field hockey, blue hair, rock-n-roll summer camp - no problem. My kid runs with it! It’s inspiring. Not so inspiring, and definitely to be filed under “irritating” is the actual taking of my stuff. Socks especially. When my kid perceives a need, like she NEEDS socks right in that moment, she will take what she needs from others, and she doesn’t seem able to connect that behavior with negative reactions. As I see it, parenting a Taker means helping her understand, (and in adolescence, that’s not easy), how to determine what is an actual need and what is a perceived need. She most absolutely has socks- she’s probably lost track of them, reacts to not immediately knowing where they are and concluding that she definitely has no socks at all. Then, still in a reactive mode, she takes mine. It’s the combination of reacting & acting without thinking that can get her into negative situations, but it’s also what makes her so amazingly bold in other aspects of her life. My hope is to help her accept herself exactly as she is, learn to pause in most situations before reacting, and start to discern when her highly instinctive way of being is an asset.

Three kids, totally different, even the ones with the same DNA. Knowing my kiddos better has helped me speak in a way they can hear, support them in a way they need, keep my Earner understanding of what is good and right out of their faces, because that is not who they are! It also makes things run more smoothly to have this language spoken at home by all of us. We are all better able to balance our nature-specific preferences, (the easy way, rest & relaxation all the time, seizing the day and the socks, and working hard 24/7), with the fact that life is all of those things and more in combination.

As we roll into summer, and we’ll be together more, knowing everyone’s natures in invaluable information. We’re developing a parent workshop series to teach other parents to indentify their natures, know their kids’ natures, and have that common language. The idea is to minimize conflict and maxifize fun, and it’s entirely possible to do exactly that in a way that recognizes and supports everyone.

Here’s to a great summer!

~Erin

Know Your Nature • Claim Your Place • Make Your Mark

Erin Elizabeth