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loving your family smarter


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[Hazel Type 1]

It would seem many of your really enjoyed my last post on how I manage my schedule, so I thought today I’d write up a post of similar style, just a different topic, but again, hopefully one that will open some new doors for you. I minored in psychology in college and have always found the study of human nature fascinating. So my goal for today is to provide you with some opportunities to better understand your own personality and those closest to you, which should then in turn help you love yourself and your family smarter. I’ll explain what I mean by that in a minute, so if you’re curious, read on…

I think for the most part, all of us as humans, are really trying our best to live our lives successfully. Unfortunately, especially when it comes to marriage and parenthood, we often find ourselves wishing for an instruction manual that doesn’t seem to exist. At least I do. I’m totally a read a book and figure something out kind of girl. Now while I don’t believe an exact instruction manual exists for “life”, there are a few different books/websites that I have found to be excellent manuals for loving my family (and myself) smarter. Now I say smarter, not better, because to me better implies you aren’t doing your best, but as I said before, I think we all are. But if we love our families smarter, then to me that says we’re still doing our best, we’re just educating ourselves first so the results are more often in our favor.

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[Sisi Type ?]

Now that I’ve welcomed a fourth child into this world, it’s extremely apparent to me that children come as is. Their personalities are almost prepackaged. Only, they arrive as babies who can’t just say what they need and think, so as adults, it can be hard for us to understand who each individual child is. A friend mailed me the book, “Secrets of the Baby Whisperer” by Tracy Hogg while I was still pregnant with Ella. I’ve read this book several times now and I swear by it for newborns/young babies. Basically Tracy takes a really logical stance that newborns can communicate and do, but we have to learn to speak their language. If we do, then they will be much happier little people because we’ll be able to meet their needs. When they’re super tiny, babies are a bit robotic and though you can see evidence of their personalities, for the most part, they all respond similarly to different stimuli and internal cues. Tracy has an actual chart in her book that’s to the effect of “if your newborn does XXX physical movement, it probably means XXX needs to be done.” Time and time again I found her chart to be spot on with my kids. So for today, that’s all I’ll say about babies, but if you’re about to be a parent or still haven’t figured out your new baby, I highly recommend getting this book.

Now, Sisi is still young, but turns one this month. It’s completely crazy that she’s that old. Piggy backing hers and Peirce’s pregnancies has made the last few years kind of a blur to me. I still don’t feel like I know too much about her permanent personality, but Peirce is old enough I’m starting to figure him out. What is it I’m looking for? What’s to figure out? Well, I’m interested in discovering what his dominant natural energy type is.

About a year ago I discovered Carol Tuttle. She has all sorts of websites and things she’s trying to sell, but at the core of them all is this idea that there are 4 dominate energy types present in the world. (You can sign up to receive the profiling information for free HERE). She encourages that we all discover and understand our dominate energy type and then live true to that type. Each personality/energy type has strengths and weaknesses, so of course, the idea is to maximize your natural strengths and be aware of your weaknesses but not shun them.

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As adults, depending on how we were raised, what personality traits were praised, which were discouraged etc. we may not be living “true” to our natural energy because we might feel that that specific “type” is not worth exhibiting. But children are much more in tune with their energy and if they haven’t been taught to do otherwise, will act according to their nature all the time.

So why does this matter? Well I’ve found with my own kids that once I was able to identify their natural energy it was much easier to parent them in a way that’s specific to their needs. For example, I posses a Type 3 energy which is active/reactive and very goal oriented. I move through life with a swift speed. Ella is a strong Type 4 which is a very structured and exact energy, the slowest in movement of the 4 energies. She’s interested in perfecting things and has a very critical approach to life. She experiences a lot of anxiety and worries about so many things a 7-year-old should never even realize exist. Anyway, I was constantly addressing her concerns to the tune of “it doesn’t matter” meaning when I look at the end result this tiny little detail isn’t important in the grand scheme of things so I was attempting to help her see that. But Ella would always very upset say back “It matters to me!”. Once I read up on her Type 4 nature I better understand how she views the world (it’s a very black & white way of thinking) and how to speak and respond to her in a way that she’ll understand and appreciate.

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[Ella Type 4]

Hazel is the exact opposite in life from Ella. She has a Type 1 energy which is the quickest energy. She’s constantly changing her mind, activities, and clothes. Like literally 5-7 times a day, and that doesn’t take into account all the different head bands she accessorizes with. Ella would wear the same outfit for a week if I’d let her and often gets upset when I insist she change. Hazel’s nature is bright and animated. She’s full of ideas and always an optimist. I know that whatever she says, like “I want my name to be XXX for the rest of my life” I can just happily agree to because she’ll change her mind again in five minutes. I don’t attempt to box her in with the decisions she makes. Though by most standards she looks ridiculous, I allow her to wear whatever she wants because I know that flexibility and randomness is important to her true self.

Hazel is extremely social and easily makes friends. Ella struggles immensely to feel like she fits in. But who would you want to play with on the playground? Crazy, fun Hazel or the 70-year-old soul stuck in Ella’s 7-year-old body? I think others sense Ella’s serious nature and it can be hard to process. Sadly, Ella is always comparing herself to Hazel and so I’m always trying to help her see that they’re two totally different people and that’s not only okay, it’s great.

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[Peirce Type…can you guess from what you know about him?]

My Type 3 nature naturally gets things done, and gets them done well. Jordan says I go into “manic” cleaning mode when I’m picking up a room. But in my mind, why would I want to clean slowly when I could clean quickly and get on with the next item on my to do list? I make decisions quickly and easily. And once I’ve made a decision, I’m constantly reevaluating if it’s the one that will help me get to my end goal the fastest. If it ceases to be the “right” decision I’ll change. I’m not attached to the decision, only what I want to accomplish. Jordan on the other hand, who possesses a Type 2 energy which is slower, more deliberate, and one concerned with gathering details and making exact plans, will thoroughly research out a decision before making it. And once he actually makes the decision, he will follow through with that exact plan 99% of the time, even if he runs into road blocks along the way.

So imagine as spouses trying to play for the same team how our natural energies can leave us frustrated? Let’s say we make a decision, which Jordan first researches thoroughly. We agree to proceed according to his set plan/route. But then midway through to our end goal, it becomes apparent that there’s a quicker/easier way to accomplish XXX. So I immediately jump ship and swim to a new route thinking that that’s a perfectly logical action since I’m 100% focused on the end goal. Meanwhile, my husband is left sailing his own boat now feeling like his plan was a failure and I don’t believe in his abilities.

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[Jordan Type 2]

This scenario was happening often in our marriage, and it wasn’t until we sat down and had a well communicated discussion about our natural energies that I was able to realize there was even a problem. Jordan is always so willing to support me with whatever task I have at hand. But because we go about the “doing” process differently we had to agree to honor each other’s natural energies. So now whenever I make a plan/decision, Jordan agrees to jump on my ship knowing that we will probably be jumping over board at some point in time to swim to the end goal faster. He will, however, hold my hand while we take the plunge and then watch for sharks while we’re swimming.

Likewise, when Jordan makes a plan/decision, I jump on his ship knowing we’re going to be on that ship until the end of the journey so I’m going to pack snacks, board games and my camera so I can enjoy the ride knowing it might be longer than the one I’d choose but that he thoroughly planned out the cruise and we will eventually get to our destination AND we might even have time to relax and get a tan while aboard.

SO now that you’ve heard me analyze my own family, hopefully it’s sparking enough interest in you to know more. You have a dominate energy type. Start there. Figure out what your natural rhythm in life is. Once you start honoring your own energy, you’ll be able to appreciate others. Next figure out who you’re married to or if you’re single, understand your mom’s energy and how that influences your world. And finally, if you have kids, I recommend reading “The Child Whisperer” by Carol Tuttle. She walks you through how to figure out your kids energy types , what they’ll means to you as a parent, and how to understand and help your kids to honor their own natures. You can also visit The Child Whisperer website HERE.

The last book/resource I want to tell you about today is a book called “The Five Love Languages” by Gary Chapman. Originally this book was published geared towards a spouse. But he’s since expanded the love language idea to your children, your co-workers, etc. You can learn about the different languages on his website HERE and take a free online test to find out your own. Again, the idea is to understand how those around you receive love. Often times we’re showing love in a way that’s natural to us, in our primary love language. But if your spouse/child doesn’t speak the same language as you, they might not be feeling your love the way you intended. For example, say your primary love language is receiving gifts. So you’re always buying little things for your spouse as a way of saying I love you. But if your spouse’s love language is quality time, instead of feeling loved by your presents, they’re probably just resenting all the time you spend away from them shopping for those gifts.

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I had both of my girls take the love language quiz for children. Both of their number one languages were Quality Time. Luckily for me, I’m a quality time kinda girl myself. So I know that we’ll all feel more love if I plan a fun getaway for us to enjoy together rather than buying them a new toy. Hazel’s second love language was Physical Touch whereas that was at the bottom of Ella’s list. So I make sure to hug/cuddle with Hazel daily, and every now and then to buy Ella a little something because her #2 is receiving gifts.

Is this all starting to make sense? The more you know and understand about a person, the easier it is to love them smarter. When you understand their true nature and energy you can honor and respect that in all your interactions with them. And then for the cherry on top, if you show love to them speaking their primary love language (not your own) then they will feel truly loved, understood, and validated which is what so many of us really desire but lack in our world.

The sad thing about so many unhappy marriages and families is that I do think most of us are really trying. But there’s a lack of communication in our world about our differences. We try so hard to be politically correct, unbiased, un-racist, etc. that we feel awkward coming out and saying, Yes, you can’t live your life exactly like I do because you aren’t me, and THAT’S OKAY! We are all looking for equality, but the best way to give that is to understand and celebrate our differences. Your kids, your spouse, your friends, your neighbor, anybody you meet will view the world slightly differently than you. Education is the key to being able to step away from our limited perceptions and see things through another person’s eyes. And within the walls of our own home, is SO important that we understand the personalities we’re living with so we can get along and love each other not better, but smarter.

[If you’re wondering, all the seemingly ramdom images in this post are part of my goal this year to photograph real life happening with a shot of each kid weekly. I’m then Instagramming my favorites so you can follow along there if you’d like.]

  • Alesa Larsen - This is brilliant. Looks like I have some homework to do.

  • Sharon - Liz, this is so insightful. My heart aches for Ella because I felt so much like her as a child. How lucky she is to have you as her mother to reassure her while she finds her footing in life. I just turned 30 and I’m finally starting to feel like I “fit” in my own skin. I’m going to have to check out the baby whisperer now that I have a little one of my own.

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