Book review – True Parenting

As a parent, have you ever asked yourself questions such as: "Just when I knew what to expect with the first child, why did I get a second child who is completely opposite?” or "Has my mother’s wish come true…did I get a child exactly like me?” True Colours™ helps us to understand our temperament and the temperament of our children.

Understanding temperaments gives valuable insight and perspective into why parents and children have trouble understanding each other’s behaviour. In her book, True Parenting: How to Foster Deeper Family Ties and a Harmonious Home, author Kathy Hayward, veteran facilitator of parenting workshops, guides parents through the True Colours process, first determining their own temperament colours. Included in the book for this purpose is a "True Colours Questionnaire” and picture sorting cards. What is your "primary” or first colour? Are you a spontaneous orange who needs freedom and excitement and whose strength lies in being highly skilled in a variety of fields? Perhaps you are a responsible gold who values order and duty and cherishes the traditions of home and family. Maybe you are a compassionate blue who values authenticity and honesty above all other characteristics. Could you be a conceptual green who values knowledge above all else and feels best when they solving problems and their ideas are recognized?

Once you have determined your own "colour spectrum”, the author then helps you determine the colours of your children, moving from childhood through adolescence. Keep in mind that we are not just one colour, but usually have one colour that is dominant in our personality. Once familiar with the characteristics of the different personality types, the author helps you determine your "parenting” colour (which is sometimes different from your "dominant” or "primary” colour). Once you’ve identified everyone’s colours, you can look at the rainbow your family really is. Chances are you and your spouse (or companion) likely have different temperaments (influenced by their own upbringing as well as their colour) and therefore approach life and parenting uniquely. This can not only cause problems between parents but also total confusion for children. Factor in the child’s own unique temperament and home can become a war zone.

The good news is even parents with opposite colour spectrums can work together to best determine how to raise their children, by developing a plan for parenting that is comfortable and acceptable to both of them. The key to better parenting is learning to parent your child in ways that naturally compliment your child’s core temperament. The book looks at the various combinations of colours of the parents with each other, and then as parents and children. Each colour will have different interests and react differently to requests and commands that are necessary to help the family function together. There are lists of suggestions on how to improve your relationship as a couple as well as with you and your children. There are also suggestions on how to help children improve their relationships with their siblings. Realizing that your role as a parent will be much easier if your children have a good sense of self-esteem, and that what gives one colour self-esteem isn’t necessarily what gives self-esteem to another colour adds a whole new dimension to parenting skills.

Also included in the book is information on learning how to communicate with your child effectively, how to support your child’s self-esteem, how to increase your child’s motivation and how to discipline your child by addressing their individual needs based on their true colours. One of the chapters is entitled "Keeping them Safe” with information we need to know how to raise self-sufficient children and at the same time help them keep safe as they are out on their own during their adolescent years. There is also a chapter on strengthening your lower ranked colours and suggestions for family activities and the kinds of family chores children of various ages should be expected to achieve.

The bottom line is to try to communicate with your child through his dominant "colour”, keeping in mind that his complete colour spectrum has a great effect on who he is and how he acts. By learning to value those who are different from you, to appreciate their ability to do things you cannot, to recognize people for their strengths instead of criticizing them for their "differentness”, your home and your world becomes a much more pleasant place to live.