From Defeated to Inspired: A Parenting Strengths Story

StrengthsFinder Defeated to Inspired

Their romance budded from a chance encounter.

Her dark, wavy hair was pulled back into an athletic pony tail. She was weary of the overseas flight, yet filled with anticipation as she stepped foot in Germany. A midwestern girl from birth, now, she was on the trip of a lifetime, slated to visit her brother and spend some fun days with a local friend. She felt deeply and believed strongly, and she was ready to follow that passion to a trip of her dreams.

His hair was buzzed tightly above his ears, and his youthful build filled out his steel gray t-shirt. The chance to wear civilian clothes was a welcomed reprieve in world filled with camouflage. When he signed on the dotted line just two years before, he had not foreseen the amazing opportunities that would lay ahead for him in a foreign land. The thrill of an assignment in Germany was more than he could have asked for. He was a carefree, life of the party with a striking presence, and he was ready to follow that passion to a tour of his dreams.

In neither one of their dreams had they even dared to imagine that the seeds of a lifetime commitment would be planted right there on that German soil.

StrengthsFinder Plane Overseas

Today, Wex and Susana have been married for 28 years. Buzzed hair and wavy locks still grace their faces, and the wisdom of years has sharpened their dreams. Together they have weathered the inexperienced zeal of youth, and the joys and sorrows of building the unexpected. Their five grown kids are on to making dreams of their own, and they revel in the unique success of each one. They connect deeply, laugh loudly, and fight fairly.

They are living the dream they never knew to imagine.

It was not always dreamlike, however. Somewhere back about 15 years ago, they discovered a new type of framework that rocked their perspectives, opened their eyes to truth, and gave them tools they had been grasping for in the thin air around them.

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It was a perspective doused in grace and the fundamental awareness that success and well being are based in building on strength, not in fixating on weakness. It was a perspective that Wex instantly knew was his pathway to greater energy and less frustration, and conflict. Having been exposed to this Strengths perspective in his work within the banking world, he immediately brought it home to his beloved, though often times misunderstood, Susana.

As they explored this perspective and their newly described Strengths, they reveled in their exposed differences and laughed at their idiosyncrasies that were now framed as talent. As they looked at themselves anew, they took a few steps closer together and shared a bit more knowingly, with a whole lot more trust.

StrengthsFinder Couple

It was not until five years later, however, that this perspective took hold in a completely jarring and life altering way.

If you have ever met a trouble-making 10 year old boy, then you have a good idea of the devious antics Robby could get into. The second of four boys, deceit and mischievousness were his most poignant tools. His young parents were perplexed and overwhelmed by the magnitude of their responsibility to nurture and correct this preteen, and they fell into a cycle of modeling what had been modeled to them.

Infraction, reaction, punishment, repeat. Only, it was not working. Despite the correction and physical interventions, the inflammatory behavior of Robby and his compatriot brothers remained.

Then one day, Robby and his brothers had broken one window and one commitment too many, and everything crumbled. Acting in anger, hurt, confusion, and deep disappointment, Wex came on them with force. Every whooping he had endured as a kid and every regiment he had faced in his military training came plummeting down on the backside of his 10 year old son.

As his arm soared through the air to find its landing on his son for the third or fourth time, Wex caught sight of the look that had spread across Robby’s adolescent face. And what he saw shocked him—in the young boy’s eyes, Wex did not see defiance or boldness or even remorse. All he saw in that one instant was pure and utter defeat. A crushed spirit.

Mid motion, it was as if Wex had been caught off guard with a bat to his gut. He was emotionally moved to statue-like silence by the gaze of this 10 year old boy. Without another word, he turned and staggered up the stairs to his own room. With the door closed behind him and his head hanging heavy in his hands, Wex’s mind flooded with thoughts. He wondered if he had crossed the line. He questioned his tactics. He wondered how long it would all continue.

StrengthsFinder Disappointed Man

A decade and a half later, Wex reflects that this moment is shamefully burned into his mind forever. It is a moment shrouded with regret, that he wishes he could take back, with all his mind. Yet, it was that same moment that broke him, that changed him and the course of their family forever.

As his shoulders shook with heartache and his Susana sat knowingly beside him that afternoon, he knew in the deepest parts of him that this was not the way he wanted to be in relationship with his young sons. He wanted to inspire, not defeat. Love not despair.

With brokenness, he looked into Susana’s eyes. It was in that moment they made a change.

They began a journey to fundamentally revamp the way their family ran, the way they discipline, the way they intentionally parent. In that moment, they made the concerted decision to start focusing on what was best in their kids instead of trying to deflate them into a shape in which they were never meant to live.

When his heart, mind and body had calmed, he returned to his boys. He engaged them in conversation that very day that committed to build up what was strong rather than fixate on what was weak and to use those tools, rather than physical discipline, to build responsibility, integrity, hard work, and love into their family.

StrengthsFinder Bird Flying

Today, in his jovial and light hearted way, Wex will be the first one to admit that this transformative day did not mean smooth sailing from then until now. But it did give him and Susana the mindset and tools that left them equipped to engage their kids and encourage them to live out their full sets of interests and talents.

It drew them closer together instead of driving them farther apart. It allowed for authentic connection and responsible action rather than forced collusion and cloaked obedience. It taught them all to soar to where they are today.



Links & Resources from today

Isogo TV Episode 5 | Our Strengths Are a Language
Isogo TV Episode 26 | The ONLY Parenting Strategy That Works
Isogo TV Episode 33 | Why You Actually CANNOT Be Anything You Want to Be
9 Steps to Life-Change through your Strengths
Becky’s Maven Insights on your Top 5

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StrengthsFinder Maven Insights Inbox

My little ask?

As always, one of the best places to join the conversation is over at our Facebook Group — Energy Up Frustration Down by Strengths. Join us for weekly chatting, complaining and commending, as we all try to figure out just how to use our Strengths to impact the most important things around us—in our work and life.

In the meantime and beyond, I would love to hear from you and help you. So, if you’re thinking about the way a Strengths-perspective could impact your marriage or your family or you’re just not so sure about it all, reach out, and let’s connect about it. You can catch me at Facebook or Twitter, both @isogostrong, or by this handy contact form.

Enjoy your day, and {be strong}!

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