Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Temperament God Gave Your Kids.

I am a temperament junkie--choleric/melancholic. That's me. And (as a melancholic) having the four temperaments in mind has been a tremendous help to me in living with other people. My boss used to drive me crazy with her bubbly, outgoing craziness. Why was she always wanting to have a big party, sing loud 80's songs, and then pray all 20 decades of the Rosary with 15 kids crawling all over her? She enjoyed noise.

It turns out, she's sanguine/choleric. She has a beautiful combination of two temperaments that just rubs me the wrong way. We both like to get things done our way (choleric), but I like to do it alone (melancholic) and she likes to do it All Together in a Big Happy Family (sanguine).

But once I understood where she was coming from--her natural tendencies, her natural strengths, her natural weaknesses--we worked well together. Very, very well.

Identifying and naming can be so helpful (melancholic!).

That's why I was so excited to read The Temperament God Gave Your Kids, written by the same couple (Art and Laraine Bennett) who brought us The Temperament God Gave You.

The basic premise is that there are four natural temperaments (based on an ancient Greek tradition) that characterize human beings: the choleric, the melancholic, the sanguine, and the phlegmatic. I won't give them away: read the books.

These four temperaments each carry their own tendencies, strengths, and weaknesses (identifying people you know--and yourself--is a hilarious exercise!). Understanding our natural inclinations helps us to grow in those areas that are naturally more difficult for us.

In the same way, the Bennetts know from their own experience as parents that the temperaments can also help us understand our children and how to best help them grow in virtue and joy. Their advice is very simple (even a little redundant if you are already familiar with their first book), but it was a wonderful refresher for me at a moment when my two melancholics are being crushed to pieces by the emerging choleric temperament of their baby sister. Crushed.

Learning to coach a choleric while two sweet melancholic cry over their spilt mudpies is a challenge. This book helped me step back, not take the drama too personally, and breathe. And laugh. We are, after all, just human.

My only criticism is that the book is too short: the Bennetts did not spend much time explaining the possible blends of temperament an individual can manifest. And these blends are precisely what differentiate, say, my 100% melancholic child from her more melancholic/choleric sister.

But it's well worth the investment and the time! Read on (especially all you phlegmatics out there).
This review was written as part of the Catholic book reviewer program from The Catholic Company, and the reviewer received a free copy of the text in exchange for her opinion. Visit The Catholic Company to find more information on The Temperament God Gave Your Kids. They have some good resources for Lent!

1 comment:

Faith E. Hough said...

I loved the first book, and this second one sounds great. I find myself instantly sizing people up by their temperament as a way of figuring out the best way to communicate with them and understand where they're coming from.
(I'm choleric/melancholic, too, by the way. :)
I also like Myers-Briggs, as sometimes further specificity helps. (I'm an INFJ.)