How to become and raise strong women
Hello my lovelies and welcome to the Moving Toward Better podcast. I’m your host, Karen Bemmes. I’m a business and personal relationship expert, and my superpower is helping you unleash the real you in the real world because anything less is just BS.
This week I’m feeling a little feisty because some crazy things are happening in my country, and as much as I try to walk a neutral line, some things touch me deeply, and I know it’s time to speak up. I’ve also just recovered from Covid, and some things make you realize life is short and speaking your truth is important. I do try to do that with as much kindness as possible, so here we go friends..
Recently, a senatorial candidate in the US said, multiple times, that people should not be able to easily leave a marriage, even if it’s violent and used his own violent upbringing to validate his expertise. While I have no knowledge of that person’s upbringing, I do have my own story with a very different view of divorce.
You see, I was raised by parents who never got along. In fact, I’ve been privy to multiple marriages in my family that were abusive mentally, emotionally and occasionally physically. Some divorced and some didn’t, and here’s what I’ve witnessed. One family member was divorced twice. The first marriage and divorce was toxic. One spouse had nothing good to say about the other, and the kids were deeply affected. The second divorce had very different results because neither spouse attempted to turn their children against the other, and the families, including the divorced spouses, still spend time together without issue. It wasn’t the divorce that created an extended negative situation. It was the people involved.
At one point in my life, I begged my mother to leave my father. Their marriage was not healthy for them or for my brother and me, but my parents chose to stick it out. After my father died, my mother told me that the only reason she stayed with my father was because of me, and let me tell you, at first, that was quite a blow because that meant I was responsible for the abuse that happened in our home, at least in my mind. I’ve since figured out that my parents made adult decisions, and if they told themselves they stayed together for the sake of the children, that has nothing to do with me. That has to do with their sense of responsibility to keep the family together at all costs. At all costs, that’s ominous, isn’t it?
So what are those costs? Men in those types of relationships learn that abuse is ok or at least excusable and forgivable. In my case, at least, no one took responsibility for their emotions or actions because someone else made them angry. If they hadn’t done that, none of the fallout of the anger would have happened. How convenient is that? Worse yet, was me growing up thinking that was normal and marrying someone who was eerily similar to my dad in temperament, so I could repeat the pattern I grew up with.
Now, let me state that the abuse I witnessed was mostly unintentional. I truly understand that people thought they were doing the right thing and wanted to make me “better”. The problem is that what they thought was better, I thought was the worst thing that could happen to me because it meant that I did what I was told when I was told and did it without speaking up about it even and especially when I disagreed with what they were saying. The problem with accepting that way of thinking is that nothing was ever good enough. No matter how good I was at one thing, something else wasn’t right, and sometimes I was being criticized for things they did but didn’t think was a problem.
To give you a small example, one of the things my first husband used to harp on was the fact that I drank Diet Coke, so one day I asked him what his problem was with me drinking Diet Coke. His response was that I was drinking too much caffeine. I drank two cans per day, and this man drank two cups of coffee before he left the house in the morning. Then, he drank several more during the work day and switched to iced tea for the evening. When that tactic didn’t work, he decided that artificial sweeteners were the problem, but when I switched to drinks with sugar and gained a few pounds, that didn’t work either, so basically it came down to the fact that he wanted me to drink water all day while he drank whatever he pleased. This is a small piece of a much bigger story, but this is how abuse starts.
So what does this all have to do with becoming a strong woman and raising them? A lot. You see, because when you’re raised in that toxicity, you think it’s normal. If you’re the Driven type of person, you’ll speak up. If you’re more people oriented, like me, you shove your feelings down because I wanted to be a good daughter/wife/person, but no matter what you do it’s never good enough, and that sucks.
For me, leaving a toxic marriage was the best decision I ever made, but it wasn’t easy. In fact, I was in counseling because I thought there was something wrong with me because my marriage wasn’t working, and we hadn’t even been married 3 years. He refused to go to counseling because he thought I was the problem, so I needed to go fix myself. In some ways he was right, but as I “fixed” myself, I rediscovered a strength that I had buried to be the wife I thought I should be, and therapy showed me how unhealthy the relationship was.
But perhaps the biggest moment came when I actually left because two very important things happened. The first was that I was accused of cheating, which I didn’t. The second was that I was told if I came back that things would be very different, and I cannot tell you how ominous that sounded. There’s so much more to this story, and many people find it funny that I hold no ill feelings, but I’m sure the man I was married to remembers our marriage differently than I do, but the fact that I could leave, and we could dissolve that marriage was a lifesaver for me.
I’m now married 29 years to a man who helps me be stronger every day. He supports me in a way no other human being has, and together we’ve built a life I couldn’t even dream of when I left that first marriage, and I am determined that my granddaughter will grow up somewhere that she has those same rights and opportunities.
So how does this relate to the DISC personalities?
For those who are new to the podcast, I use the DISC personality system to help people understand themselves and others better. The DISC behavior system includes the Driven, Inspired, Supportive and Cautious personalities, also known as D I S and C, and I use those terms interchangeably when talking about personality types, so let's talk about how to be and raise strong women with those lovely personality types.
For the D personality, this is kind of a no brainer. You are strength personified, but here’s the rub; you hate to be wrong, so sometimes you’ll stay in an unhealthy relationship just to prove a point, and I think that’s what happened with a lot of D women. They’re the type who will pick a “bad boy” just to spite their parents, especially if their parents are trying to control their lives. Then, when the parents forbid their daughter to see the “bad boy” or worse, shun her if she marries him. It becomes a huge problem. If you know anything about the D personality, they live for a challenge, and D personalities love to rise to a challenge no matter how painful it might be. So, this is how a very strong woman can get into and stay in an abusive relationship, even when she knows it’s not going to end well.
If you’re raising a D daughter, take notes here because this can save you both a lot of pain later.
Instead of talking smack about people you may or may not like who are in your daughter’s life, it’s much more productive to challenge her to make the best life choices she can because challenge, choices and control are the main motivators for the D personality. When your daughter sees how making certain choices gives her greater control over her life, she will rise to the occasion, even though it may be painful for you to give up that control.
I understand this because I have a son with a lot of D in his personality makeup. From 3rd grade on, he completely took care of his own school work and did a great job, and when he got to junior high and high school, we told him that as long as we felt he was making good choices, we would pretty much stay out of his way, but if we felt he wasn’t, it would be like we share a skin. The only time we truly argued about anything was when he was 16 and wanted to stay out all night. His argument was that he had never given us a reason not to trust him. Our reasoning was that we had both been teenagers, and my husband was the baby of nine who watched his siblings grow up before him.
We both said that we didn’t know anyone who made the best decision of their life at age 16 at 3am, but we could name several people who had made decisions that deeply altered the trajectory of their lives in ways they didn’t want them to go at that time of night. Years later our son admitted that it was a good parenting decision to keep him from staying out all night, and we had a laugh about it, so when you’re in those struggles, please know that they can have a positive outcome, even when it doesn’t seem like it at the time. You go D mamas and the parents of D daughters!
For the I personality, people can mistake your lightheartedness for weakness, but just because you’d rather be a peacemaker than argue, doesn't make you weak. In my own life, I’ve been accused of having no problems because I am generally a very happy person, and I rarely discuss the more difficult aspects of my life unless it’s to help someone know they’re not alone in their struggles. I’ve had to remind people that just because I’m not morose and complaining doesn’t mean that everything in my life is easy. Do people have it worse than I have? Absolutely, but I’ve dealt with some serious moments in our lives too.
For example, I’ve seen my husband close to death multiple times. As a matter of fact, the last time I called the life squad, the 911 operator asked me if I was ok because he was concerned about me being so calm. The thing is that I’ve been through this scenario multiple times, so I know the drill, and while I may look calm on the outside, I am calling on every divine being I can think of to protect and watch over my husband on the inside.
I also have a child with a life threatening medical condition, and I worked on this podcast at 2:30AM during our 10 hour emergency room stay with him having abdominal pain that we thought might be appendicitis. Not everyone would call what I did that night strength, but a lot of people would, especially since it was just the two of us, and I know people that bring an entourage when they come to the hospital because they can’t stand being there on their own. Update to that, we were sent home at 8am after arriving at 10pm the night before. No surgery, and it was most assuredly some kind of bug because I started with the same symptoms 48 hours later. Yippee! It only lasted about 48 hours for me, so all is good, and that’s how Inspired personalities roll.
Because the Inspired personality keeps things light, even as children, they may use humor to try to diffuse difficult situations. In most cases, that ability helps them stay afloat mentally and emotionally. It’s important to talk with the Inspired child to make sure they understand serious situations and let them know they can talk to you about what they’re feeling because the I personality processes through talking, but don’t be surprised if they change the subject when they’ve been talking about something heavy for a while. In truth, what we typically call negative emotions exhaust the naturally happy I personality. While the D personality can get focused and energized from a heated argument, an I personality may need days to recover from one.
So what do you do if you have an I child to raise them to be strong? Recognize that they get energized from being around others, and they don’t mind being the center of attention when they’re in balance. When they’re out of balance, they can demand attention in the worst ways. Have you ever seen a toddler or a teen act out, and you know it’s just to get attention? Hello “I” child out of balance! The trick to raising a well balanced and strong “I” personality child is to give them healthy attention. Let them insert fun into as many situations as possible and/or help them to make things they find boring or distasteful as much fun as possible, or at least help them make it less boring or distasteful by letting them listen to music or get help with things, even if you know they can do something by themselves. For those of you who are task oriented, that may sound like torture, but I assure you that if you let your “I” child work with a friend and some music, you’ll be amazed what they can accomplish. Also, because they can struggle with tasks, a timer is an invaluable tool to get the Inspired child started.
I use a timer for so many things, including working on my podcast. I often use headphones and play music. I have a YouTube playlist that I love to listen to over and over, and I can focus better on the podcast when I put the headphones on and use the music to drown out all the background noise. And parents, if you hear your “I” child singing, that doesn’t mean that they aren’t doing their work. I randomly start singing and don’t even realize it because my mind is focused on the podcast. Having an I personality and adhd not only makes this possible; it makes it nearly a requirement to get my brain to focus some days, especially when there are other things going on in the house. Figure out what makes things fun for your “I” child, and you’ll empower them more than you can possibly imagine. It won’t look like anyone else’s process, but that will make the Inspired child even happier, because they like being unique.
Moving to the S personality, you are often the embodiment of quiet strength that endures, sometimes to your own detriment, but your innate sense of loyalty to those you love inspires you to be tougher than other personalities might give you credit for. We all know that woman who seems to take hit after hit and just keeps going without a complaint. That is often the S woman, but please understand that while the S woman puts on that face and will continue to do that, she is often silently begging for help. Why silently? Because she doesn’t realize that asking for help is ok. At least in the US, we have this idea that asking for help is a weakness. It’s a ridiculous idea, and it’s created this idea that a woman should be able to do it all, and I’m sorry y’all but that is total bs.
In the 40’s, 50s and 60s, many women stayed home and took care of the home and the children, and that was all they were expected to do. In many cases, they didn’t take care of the yard or the finances, and children often played outside most of the day. Then in the 70s, women started moving into the workforce, and even though they now spent up to 40 hours working, like their husbands, they were still expected to do the same amount of housework and child rearing. If they slipped at either, they were considered unfit, and for the S personality this would have been devastating because they truly exist to support others, but this is truly an untenable position to be in. Fortunately, the S women have allies in the other personalities. They are the ones that will speak up for the S woman when things need changing, and they need changing right now.
If you have an S child, know that they love to support people and causes. They may do it quietly, but their support can be invaluable, so it helps to direct them toward people and causes that raise them up and make the world a better place. That is a very personal decision, but as someone who has lived nearly 60 years on this planet, I will say that it’s more important now than ever in my lifetime to think long and hard about who we listen to and surround ourselves with because not everyone has our best interest at heart, and the S personality may go along with things they don’t necessarily agree with to keep the peace, so if you know an S person who needs your strength to do the right things, please lend them some of that strength, and you will help them be stronger than ever.
One of the best stories I’ve ever experienced about how to empower the S personality was when I took a self defense course many years ago. The instructor, a woman, was showing us how to break the bones in the feet, temporarily blind someone and hit a male attacker where it hurts most, and several of the women said they could never do that to another human being. The woman then looked them in the eye and said, “What would you do if that person was attacking your child?” The response was unanimous, “I’d kill him.” Her response was, “Who do you think will hurt most if something happens to you? If you’re being attacked, that person is essentially attacking your children”. That’s the perspective a Supportive personality needs to realize how strong they can be when they need to be. Perspective, my friend, is a beautiful thing.
The strength of the C personality is in their information and data. The Cautious, Correct C personality knows stuff, and don’t you ever doubt that. I once had a woman come to me asking about a situation with our school district. It was a complicated and multi-layered question that required a detailed, multi-layered answer that I knew I never could give.
I suggested that the woman email a high C acquaintance of mine that knew so much more about the situation than I did, but I did so with a caveat. I told her not to expect a quick answer because the high C woman she was asking was fantastic at giving full answers, but she took a while to compile her information and organize it into an answer that she felt was complete. I saw the first woman a few weeks later and asked if she got her answer. She did and she was thrilled with the care and detail of the answer she got. That is how a C personality uses their superpower. What they know is their strength, and they know how to use it well.
If you have a C child, they ask questions, lots of them. I didn’t realize how many until one of my nieces watched my children for a weekend while we were out of town. She told me my children, one in particular, wore her out with all of the questions he asked. She said, “ He wants to know everything about everything”, and she’s right. That child is grown, and he still wants to know everything about everything. He follows conservative and liberal media. He looks at everything from every angle, and when he makes up his mind based on the information he gathers, he only changes it if there's new data from a source he trusts.
While that sounds daunting, one of the blessings of having a child that loves data is that they tend to be less emotional and make decisions based on facts. In the information age, that might mean that you have to question or suggest that they use several sources for their data, but you rarely have the emotional tumult of most tweens and teenagers. That doesn’t mean that they’re not emotional, but they are usually better at keeping their emotions in check, so if those emotions do show up, pay attention because whatever the emotions are about is incredibly important to the C child and that is not to be trifled with or laughed at or you can lose the trust of your child, and rebuilding trust with a Cautious personality is one of the most difficult things you can do, even when they are a child.
So let's recap. D women, you are so strong, and if you have a D daughter, please help her develop her own strength. I women, I applaud your willingness to lighten up even the most difficult situations. I also applaud how difficult it is to raise those “I” daughters in unique ways so they can be strong without the drama. S mamas, I see you and salute your quiet strength and willingness to do the right things. I know how difficult it is to stand by your words and set boundaries so your children can develop their own strength. Go you! And finally, C mamas, you can tell us all the statistics and facts, and without you, we would be lost. You raise those questioning children, and show us how facts can help us temper our sometimes volatile emotions. For that, I thank you so much.
I have talked with so many women lately who want to use their strengths and passion to create good in this world. This is literally why I do what I do, and I truly think that learning about your personality is the first step to recognizing your strengths and using them to make a better world for ourselves and those who come after us, and you can do that for a mere $12.95 to take an assessment. The link to do that is in the show notes or you can go to the Moving Toward Better home page and click the Take an Assessment link at the top of the page.
Then, to supercharge your strengths, you book a one on one session to get a deep dive into ways to boost your strength in every area of your life.That’s where we take everything about your personality and super charge it in ways you can’t even imagine.
Also, I am working on some classes to teach over the next year to help you with the holidays, building better relationships with your significant other and family. To keep up with that, sign up for the Moving Toward Better email list. That link is also in the show notes and is on the homepage of the Moving Toward Better website.
Finally, if you know someone this episode can help, please share with them. We all deserve to become the strongest version of ourselves and make the world a better place in the process. Also, remember to subscribe to the podcast on whatever platform you’re listening to so you know when a new episode drops.
It is truly my mission to help people upgrade their life, feel better in their own skin and create a life that they love, whatever that means for them, so until next time, keep moving toward better with your unique and amazing personality. Love you all, and I’ll see you soon.