Wednesday, April 20, 2011

“P” stands for ….

My husband and I are very clear Js (he is an ISFJ and I am an INTJ) and we have two sons that are both Ps (ISFP and ENTP). With two Js trying to raise two Ps, I’ll say it can get pretty interesting … and yes, interesting is French for frustrating. But, as an INTJ, I’m always up for a good challenge and constantly looking for a better way to do something so rather than being frustrated that the boys are not naturally compliant, obedient and submissive to parental authority (like my ISFJ husband was when growing up – yes, his mother would affirm that he was the perfect child) I redirect the frustration to myself that I have not figured out the right combination of communication techniques and motivations to incent my P children to develop their non-preferences (particularly the J behaviors) on their own and for their own benefit, not mine.

Earlier in the week, my husband and I had scheduled a day off from work to spend with the boys while they were on Spring Break and had bantered around several ideas of things to do, weather permitting. The night before our day off, he says to me “have you decided what we’re doing yet?” I respond, “hey, why don’t we put on our ‘P’ hats and just figure it out when we get there?” He responds “I don’t own a ‘P’ hat … well I do, but it stands for ‘Pittsburgh Pirates’ not ‘Procrastinating Perceiver’.”

Procrastinating Perceiver – yes Perceivers (Ps) can be known to procrastinate. We all can, regardless of type, but Ps have elevated procrastination to an art form or perhaps we’ll call it a “spiritual gift.” I also think it's important to distinguish between procrastination and laziness (my husband will often complain about the boys’ laziness and attribute it to their Type). Laziness is the desire to NOT DO the task at all and respond to that lack of desire through avoidance and a clear lack of ownership or accountability that it is their task to complete. With procrastination, there is a sense of ownership (I know I have to do this) and a recognition that it benefits them to complete it, but there is a misguided self-delusion that if they put the task off long enough it will get easier or (because Ps are options-focused) that a better task will come along that they could swap it out for with someone (or perhaps if I put it off long enough, the J-fairies will come by and do it while I’m sleeping).

Js are closure-focused. They draw satisfaction from completed-tasks, from checking the box. Ps do not draw satisfaction from checking the box, they don’t understand the box we’re checking, the words next to the box are in a foreign language. Ps are options-focused, so they will draw satisfaction from generating alternatives to the thing they know they must do, but don’t really want to do. Thus it plays out like procrastination because while they are generating alternatives to doing the thing they would rather not do, it’s still not getting done. My P-boys will put more time and energy into figuring out creative ways to not do something, that it would have actually taken to complete the task!

Unfortunately, because Ps are master procrastinators BUT will often produce their best work under the pressure of a looming deadline, that procrastinating behavior gets reinforced and rewarded by the great successes that were achieved at the last minute.

So … I haven’t figured out the magic formula to make Ps embrace J behaviors yet, but here are a few things that I have figured out. Ps don’t like to be given Js’ closure-focused conclusions (otherwise interpreted as orders – clean your room, do the dishes), they prefer to hear information (remember, options-focused) that lead them to draw their own conclusions and they like questions better than statements. So “clean your room” would roll off the J’s tongue as easily as breathing (and a J child might accept that and say “okay”), but what will resonate more with the P might be “So, what’s on your chore-list today?” or "Wow, this room's not at all what I expected. What do you think I'm noticing about it?" He'll rattle off things like clothes on floor, trash overflowing, etc. Then I'll say, "So what do you think I'm going to say next?" He'll say "that I should clean my room?" Me: "Bingo! You're so smart. I knew you didn't need me to figure that out. You always know how to make me happy."

It may not be perfect and (if you’re a J) you may be thinking I just wasted a lot of words and time to essentially say “clean your room” but think about the number of times you’ve said “clean your room” that fell of the deaf ears of your P-child. I’d argue we’ve spent/wasted the same amount of time/words and in the end, accomplished the same goal, but with questions/options approach, mom didn’t come off like a nagging harpy thereby building greater relationship skills between us.

Consider Colossians 3:21 - Fathers, do not exasperate your children, so that they will not lose heart (NAS); do not be hard on your children, so that their spirit may not be broken (BIBE); do not make your children resentful. Otherwise, they'll become discouraged (ISV). Good advice for all of us, really: fathers, mothers, teachers. And of course "above all, have fervent love for one another: for love shall cover the multitude of sins." - Peter 4.8

1 comment:

a Putnam said...

Wow!! Thanks Lauren! That is just the advice I needed for my dear "P" boy. That totally puts that verse into perspective. (and, I was laughing my head off at your husband's 'I don't have a J hat" line. Priceless.)