Strengths-based parenting

I write often here about the value of kids maximizing their strengths rather than fixing perceived weaknesses. Doing more of what you enjoy and are naturally good at will always take you further—and make you happier—than constantly trying to fix yourself in the elusive (and unattainable) goal of perfection.

The Gallup Organization has long led a strengths-based movement, and in 2016, they released Strengths Based Parenting: Developing Your Children’s Innate Talents. The book doesn’t just share how to help your student become even more of who they already are; it also helps parents identify their own strengths so they can be even more effective and supportive parents.

The author, Mary Reckmeyer, argues that helping kids identify and embrace their natural strengths is the best way to set them up for future success. But don’t buy the book with the hopes of finding a magic formula for higher grades or test scores, the secret to Ivy League admissions, or a placement test to identify your student’s future career. Here’s how Reckmeyer defines the success that strengths-based parenting can foster.

“By success, I don’t mean wealth or status. By success, I mean happiness, fulfillment and a life well-lived—a life with everything your child needs and most of what he wants. And, crucially, a life in which he has the ability to use his talents to create an environment that sustains and motivates him with the people he cares about and who care about him. That’s success. Fortunately, those elements of success are things parents can directly influence.”

That’s an outcome that most parents I’ve met would embrace, no matter where their kids end up going to college.