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You’ve got one of those children. A child that is so difficult to understand. The one you struggle with so much.
If your family is anything like mine, you have many diverse personalities and dispositions. They make life exciting, right? 😉
But sometimes these differences can be downright difficult to deal with.
One mother may be totally exasperated that her child is so completely emotional, and the mom doesn’t care about her child’s emotions. She feels that that child needs to get a grip and see things more logically and reasonably!
Another mother is totally exasperated that her child is so completely insensitive, and that they really can’t see how their behavior is hurting other people in the family. That child is going to damage family relationships so badly if they don’t get a heart and see what they’re doing!
There are a multitude of reasons for difficulties in relationships in our families, so in this post, let’s just focus on one of the possible reasons-
The difference between being a Thinker and a Feeler.
If you’re at all familiar with personality tests, you know there are all kinds out there. Through them, we can gain insights into our general makeup and the things that make us tick. They can also help us understand those around us a little better.
I don’t pretend to be an expert in any of these personality tests, but I’ll tell you about one of the insights I learned through the Myers Briggs Personality Types test that has made a HUGE impact on how I mother and how I seek to understand and help my family. (And if you’re curious where I’m coming from, I am an ENFJ. 🙂 )
I’ve also seen some of the positives that come when people understand these things and too much of the negatives that come in other families when these two things are not understood.
When a mother is a Feeler and has a Thinker child, woah Nelly!
And when a mother is a Thinker and has a Feeler child, woah Nelly!
Unless these things are understood, BOTH the mother and the child are VERY likely to have difficult experiences with the other.
From the personality types site, here are basic definitions of what they mean by being a “Thinker” and a “Feeler”.
Thinking individuals focus on objectivity and rationality, prioritizing logic over emotions. They tend to hide their feelings and see efficiency as more important than cooperation.
Feeling individuals are sensitive and emotionally expressive. They are more empathic and less competitive than Thinking types, and focus on social harmony and cooperation.
Now, being a Thinker doesn’t mean you don’t feel, and being a Feeler doesn’t mean you don’t think! These terms just show your underlying mode of operation.
First, we’ll discuss what happens when a Thinker mom has a Feeler child, then in Part 2, we’ll discuss what happens when a Feeler mom has a Thinker child.
What happens when a Thinker mom has a Feeler child:
I’m the youngest in my family (I’m a Feeler), and one of my older brothers is a Thinker. One day when my parents had been out of town for quite a while, I did something that bothered him and he set me in my place. He totally threw all his Thinker powers at me, and boy did my Feeler powers rebel!
He felt totally justified in treating me the way he did because I “needed to shape up and get over it.” He would not allow me my say in the matter or allow me to express myself.
I saw him as a total tyrant and I wanted nothing more than to get away from him! The anger and frustration welled up inside of me and I struggled to get over it for days. I did not want to be around him much after that. I didn’t trust him.
I know a dear lady who grew up as the only Feeler in a family of Thinkers. As a grown woman, she had so many struggles with self-worth, with understanding who she was, with allowing herself to feel as was inherent in her soul.
She had a very difficult time adjusting to motherhood, not knowing how to mother. She also had a difficult time in her marriage, in accepting and giving love and affection. She had a difficult time communicating and feeling like she could really express her needs and wants, and trusting that she could be heard and valued.
It took her several years of counseling to get to the root of her emotions that had been buried alive and to sort things out. Now that she’s done a lot of work on this and strived diligently to resolve things, she feels so liberated, so much more understanding of who she is and of her value. She’s now so much more able to give and receive the kind of love that is inherent in her soul to both her kids and to her husband.
I’ve seen this dynamic in many families I’ve known over the years…
A Thinker mom determines that her Feeler daughter is way out of control with her whims and her emotions, and feels she must learn to contain herself so she can be a responsible and well-adjusted adult.
A Thinker mom who doesn’t care about people’s emotions and thinks that her Feeler child should do things the way she says.
A Feeler child who feels totally crushed and misunderstood by her Thinker mom, and says she can’t wait until she’s 18 so she can move out!
A Feeler child who’s innate creativity and fluid expression are squashed because it’s not really valued or allowed to flourish.
One other thing I’ve noticed is that some Thinker moms may say that their Feeler children have meltdowns about the simplest things and it totally exasperates the mom. As if the meltdown is a totally ridiculous thing.
Well, what really caused the meltdown? The child just needs to pull it together and behave better, right? No.
A Feeler child will often have a meltdown when their Thinker mom is trying to make them see or do things in a Thinker manner. When the Thinker mom doesn’t validate the child’s feelings or point of view.
So what’s a Thinker mom to do?
If you’re a Thinker mom and have a Feeler child – you need to begin to accept their emotions and accept that having emotions is a good thing. Because doing so shows that you CARE about your child.
There is nothing inherently wrong with your child. There is value in emotions. You need to really seek to understand, and validate your child for who they are, just as they are. Even if you don’t understand or you think emotions are pointless.
A Thinker mom who tries to squash or to ‘control’ their Feeler child’s emotions in a ‘Thinker way’ really ends up doing the opposite.
Those emotions won’t go away just because you want them to. Even if the child submits and behaves more ‘tolerably’, those emotions are still there, getting larger, and festering, often getting distorted. (See “Feelings Buried Alive Never Die“) They can get shoved down so deep that they begin to show up in other ways, including health problems, other behavioral issues, and distorted views on love and acceptance.
A Feeler child who has a Thinker mom can feel sooo very unloved and rejected. They may seek that approval elsewhere, and that may not be very desirable.
Thinker moms NEED to hug their Feeler children – with sincerity. Feeler children NEED to be hugged. Thinker moms need to choose words that sound kind to the ears of the Feeler child, not just efficient or ‘true’ in their own ears. Thinker moms need to patiently listen while their child expresses their emotions – and let them have their emotions. They need to do everything they can to help that child feel understood and appreciated for who they are.
Of course, I’m not talking about letting emotions run amok! It is important to help our children learn how to deal with their emotions, and how to be in charge of their emotions rather than having the emotions be in charge of them. However, a Thinker mom can really have no idea how to do that in a positive way. It may be wise for a Thinker mom to seek out a Feeler mom for advice on how to do that.
Your child’s emotions are VALUABLE. They are not to be simply rejected because that’s not how you operate. Both Thinkers and Feelers have value. BOTH have important places in our society and in our families! The trick is to gain skills in the area you’re weak in so that you can be much more effective, so your child can flourish in their God-given ways, and so your family can be happier and run more smoothly.
In the next post, I’ll go into the idea of what happens when a Feeler mom has a Thinker child…