Type A. Type B. It’s not the Label That Matters.

Purposeful Parent Tip:  Your children are unique and the only label they need is their name.

I admit it – I’m a Type-A person.  When people hear this, they typically conjure up descriptors like “perfectionist”, “control freak”, “inflexible”.  And at times, this may very well be true. I like things the way I like them. I prefer order over chaos and I like to see my goals come to fruition.  I have always struggled with ‘loosey-goosey’ and go-with-the-flow people. That is, until I gave birth to one.

My Type-A personality has served me well throughout my corporate career and my life for that matter. Being driven to always strive for better is the hallmark of my successes. Me being able to see how things can be done faster, better, cheaper garnered me many a process-improvement award in my cubicle-dwelling days. I can remember being in meetings with people and being drawn to those who were like me. I loved the dynamic of each of us out-doing the other with a more efficient way to perform a task. The faster, the better!

Then I gave birth to my first-born – a son. From the moment he entered this world, I knew he was not “like me”. When the doctor held him up and my new baby boy uttered not a sound but just lazily gazed around the room, I said, “Ut Oh. I don’t think he’s like me.  I’m in trouble!” Not only was I as far from a Type-B personality as they come, I didn’t even know any Type-B people. There were no friends or family members to model this behavior. This was foreign to me. How can a Type-A mother raise what appears to be a Type-B child?

Easy. You forget about the label and look inside.

Think about it. We all see packaging on food items, gifts, just about any product.  Companies spend a fortune trying to grab our attention with their eye-catching packaging. Sometimes what’s inside is even better than the box it came in and sometimes,we are disappointed. So you see – labels and packaging mean nothing.

When I think back to all of the ‘traditional’ milestones in my son’s life –  walking, talking, sleeping through the night – almost all of them were not done “on time”, but rather in
“his time”. In fact, he was born nine days after his due date! He was determined to do things his own way and when it was right for him even from the get go. Hmmm…

This was a tough thing for a new mom to accept. Why isn’t he talking? Why is he still crawling? (Have to say though that I have never seen a child crawl as fast or as precisely as my son!) Many a night I spent worrying. Why? Because the books said he was supposed to be doing these things by a certain age. I questioned his day-care teachers constantly. Did he talk today? Did he do this or that today? Their response was almost always – “Don’t worry. He’ll do it in his own time.”

Argh! In his own time? But what about in MY time?

I finally had to admit that if my son and I were going to have any chance of ‘getting along’, that I would have to re-examine my Type-A personality and begin to embrace a new way of looking at things, and people for that matter. My impatience with what I deemed to be lazy or un-focused people had to be replaced with love and appreciation for who they were as a whole person.

To help me along, I began to meet one Type-B person after another. It was made even easier for me as I met a few people who were “in-between”. Sort of like a Type A-minus or Type B-plus. Thank goodness!  I think this was God’s way of gently easing me into getting used to personalities that were so different than my own. Not only did I come to appreciate these people, they became good friends. And their presence in my life helped me understand my son better as well as to slow down myself. A gift I will always cherish.

While I can’t say I have abandoned my Type-A moniker, I will say that it doesn’t mean that much to me anymore. My son taught me that there is peace in doing things slowly and in the present moment. The goal is still achieved. It’s just done differently. And what’s wrong with different? Different is interesting. Different is fun. Different makes the world go around.

These days I am quick to catch myself when I am about to hurry my son along. Instead, I give him plenty of heads-up time so that neither of us feels pressured. He to move faster or I to move slower, both of which deny who we really are at heart.

As parents, there will be many labels people will assign to our children. Smart. Pretty. Gifted.  Artistic. Hyper. Handi-capped. Learning-disabled. Challenging. Talker. I encourage you to avoid these unfair descriptions. Because the truth is, our children are more than the labels assigned to them.

All you need to do is open the package, look inside, and you’ll see so much more.

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Jennifer Covello, Copyright 2011-2024