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Sunday, October 22, 2017

ISFJ + R x 4 = Burnout

Burnout @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

Have you taken the Homeschool Personality Quiz at Simply Convivial?

I’ve been fond of the Myers-Briggs personality types since my oldest was very young and it was obvious that he was processing the world in completely different ways from how I processed the world. With the discovery of MB, I also discovered that my husband is my polar opposite. Okay, that wasn’t exactly a new discovery, but it helped me to understand that he wasn’t picking the opposite answer or approach every single time just to make my life difficult. [wry grin] That’s just how he sees and processes ideas, tasks, and experiences (and I’m sure he constantly questions my processing as well).

I am an ISFJ. I don’t think I have ever scored differently on a MB quiz. How does this personality inform my homeschool style? According to the quiz at Simply Convivial, ISFJs are very supportive and love being useful, but because they also dislike conflict, homeschooling becomes difficult when there is any push-back or frustration by the children.

I could have told you that.

Now, as fond as I am of the MB personality typing, and as little as I like other personality typing (DiSC, Enneagram, whatever), I recently re-took Gretchen Rubin’s Four Tendencies quiz. I didn’t really need to take the quiz to know my type, but I’m a rule- and process-follower.

Obliger. I meet outer expectations and resist (or fail) inner expectations.

I got to wondering what my kids would score. I had a pretty good guess for three of my children and a hunch for the fourth.

The three boys took the online test. All three scored the same.

Rebel. They resist both outer and inner expectations.

If my daughter could take the test? Also Rebel.

This Obliger is attempting to parent and homeschool FOUR Rebels (three of whom are boys in puberty or adolescence), and feeling like a failure. [Three of my children are Rebels from birth—though each is different in his/her own way. One of my children is likely an Obliger who is going through a Rebel phase. Interestingly, my Rebel children’s rooms/spaces are complete chaos and my Obliger/Rebel craves neat and attractive spaces.]


If you haven’t parented (or homeschooled) a Rebel, this is what it feels like: every time you take a step, someone puts something in your way and you trip over it.


Me: Fish can’t walk.
Rebel: Some can.

Me: Don’t touch this.
Rebel: [touches this]

Me: Do not get out of bed for any reason again tonight.
Rebel: Unless the house is on fire or someone is bleeding or _________ or___________.

Me: This is the expectation and this is the consequence.
Rebel: [long list of exceptions and loopholes and/or volatile response to the unfairness of it all (or, alternately) “doesn’t hear a thing”]

Me: You will now have to lose ______ because you did/didn’t do __________.
Rebel: Didn’t want it anyway. (or, alternately) Now I have no reason to do anything, so I will not meet any more expectations or follow any more rules. (or, alternately) Here are all the reasons I think you are wrong, including that I didn’t hear you state the expectation and consequence and you can’t prove that I did, your expectations weren’t clear, your expectations were unreasonable, this is the loophole you didn’t account for, I did *enough* to meet the expectations and your evaluation of my work is arbitrary, someone else stated different expectations, you are a terrible mom for taking this away from me.

Me: You can earn _______ privilege by meeting ________ responsibility.
Rebel: Don’t want it bad enough. (or, alternately) I’ve never before been able to earn that privilege, so I don’t know how great it could be, so no great loss.

Me: I refuse to argue and I’m walking away.
Rebel: Awesome. Now I can keep doing whatever it is I wanted to be doing. (or, alternately) You don’t love me and you don’t value my thoughts and ideas. You just want to control me.

Me: It’s time to ______.
Rebel: Don’t micromanage me.

Me: Why didn’t you do this?
Rebel: You didn’t tell me to. (or, alternately) You didn’t help me with it/do it for me.

Tutor: Class, stand up and recite with me.
Rebel: [flops all over on the floor] My legs are tired.

Tutor: Sit in a circle, class.
Rebel: [stands up and wiggles]

Me: Please don’t talk to every stranger you meet.
Rebel: [talks to every stranger he/she meets]

Tutor: Why don’t we go around in a circle and introduce ourselves.
Rebel: [refuses to speak because she’s “shy”]


How you deal with this depends on your personality type and also whose parenting advice you listen to—which feels mostly like a pendulum swing. Either you state expectations and consequences without any discussion, walk away, and let the consequences speak for themselves without the emotional rollercoaster and without engaging in a power struggle OR you treat your children like human beings and value their thoughts and ideas, giving them input into their own lives so they can learn to process ideas and self-regulate.

Neither of these work for me. Great on paper. Messier in real life.

A few months ago, a lovely homeschool guru posted on her Facebook page: “It’s a GOOD thing to have kids who push back and question everything.”

Well, no. It’s exhausting. Simple things that should take 5 minutes become a 60 minute “discussion” and it ends in either the child being allowed to have their way or a battle because the child doesn’t get their way at the end of it. Natural consequences are often, even usually, felt by someone other than the child. And when you’re doing this x4 all day, every day, there just isn’t time left for anything else—like making dinner or sleeping.


The natural consequences are that the house is trashed, lessons are not being completed, everyone is irritable, no one enjoys each other’s company, and nothing fun is on the calendar.


The natural consequences are that mom is hiding in the bedroom.

8 comments:

Tara Robinette said...

I have never in my life commented on any blog post but today i will. All I can say is a very hearty,"Amen, Sister!"
Your previously unknown sibling,
Tara R

Mountain Mama said...

Man I feel so much respect for you and I just have to say that you must be one strong woman to have four of those personality types in your home and to be a mom to. After I read your post and processed a little of what it means and what my life is like right now with all our personalities in my own home, I thought I would go and take the test you linked. I got rebel. �� I knew I liked my own way and didn't like being on anyone else's schedule (perks to homeschooling!), but I didn't realize the extreme stubbornness of what makes me me. I really hate to be told what to do and my husband has commented on that in the past. It gets me thinking that there is some major pride in my life and that I need to work through that and repent. Thanks for sharing today. Your words have helped me dig deeper into who I am and who I want to be.

Kim said...

Thanks for being real and being honest. I will be be praying for you because these teens years are just so much harder than any other stage.

Your thoughts on being an obliger were helpful. I will have to look into that resource. I am trying to parent an obliger and trying to figure out how to parent him well. I think I'm probably also an obliger which is not helpful - our obliging moments are never at the same time or about the same stuff.

Oh, and the parental differences, my goodness... I'm trying to learn in these teen years to take the different parental approaches with grace. Ironically, we are both INTJ's and supposed to be relaxed hands-off parents (which he generally is), but having given so much of my life to their education I sweat the small and large stuff and it's infuriating when he won't join me!

Shannon said...

Man, I love these kids. Sister, you have a crazy hard job, no kidding, and you are amazing - don't you doubt it!

Anonymous said...

Thanks Heidi for this post. So much truth and real life all in one post.

Heidi said...

Friends, thank you for your kind words and solidarity. <3 It helps to know we are not alone.

Christina Love said...

Yes, oh yes, oh yes, oh unfortunately yes! I too am an ISFJ & Obliger, and my almost 16-year-old is a Rebel - though I think he may be an obliger going through a rebel stage, but it's really hard to tell, because it's been so many years of battle, and I forget who he was before :( :( I could have written this post, that's how closely it resembles my daily life. I want to cherish these teen years, but at this point I'm just trying to make it. I want to have rich, thought-provoking conversations with him, but everything I say provokes an argument rather than a thought. I wish you had an answer, but I'm almost glad you don't ... mostly because I'd probably try it and find it doesn't work for me, and then I'd cry. Again. lol I'm ready to dump Truth, Beauty, and Goodness for some peace, alone time, and public school. Sigh. But I know God is good, even in this. Maybe especially in this. And He loves me. And my son. There IS a purpose in this. Right?

Ronette Bakke said...

So, I felt like I wrote this. :)

I am an ISFJ mom currently homeschooling just one rebel. My other rebel and my obliger have graduated.

I feel for you and am standing (or lying in the fetal position depending on the day) in solidarity with you! <3