#11 – Rabbit, the Extraverted Thinker (Inspired by Winnie-the-Pooh)

Rabbit Has a Busy Day (excerpt 1)
A.A. Milne, The House at Pooh Corner

Raising a Rabbit successfully is all about control — they’re built for it, they push for it, and they will not have it forced upon them. With Rabbits, the apron strings must be intentionally, thoughtfully, and gradually loosened.

Narration: John Strappazon
Featuring: Lydia Wong, Jeff Moore, Ellen Anderson, Joshua Moore, and Jonathan Moore
Artwork: Raymond & Lydia Wong
Music: Jeff Moore

Rabbit is a toddler.

The day begins with the pitter-patter of little rabbity feet on the hardwood floor long before your alarm goes off.  He’s only two, but if yesterday’s lesson provides any hints, he’s making breakfast for himself with leftovers from the refrigerator. Yesterday it was bread sticks, garlic butter dipping sauce, and a cherry juice box. Maybe that’s actually what he wanted. Maybe that’s all he could reach. Nevertheless, you found him proudly enjoying his picnic in the living room floor with his favorite movie going on the TV. At least he’s no longer dumping entire bags of cereal out on the floor for a happy little snack. On the other hand, you tell yourself you have to start baby-gating him into his room at night — for his safety and your sanity.

You know he’s not going to like the baby gate. It is an obstacle to his goals. That’s the way he sees it. And all Rabbits hate obstacles that stand in the way of their goals. So you’ll prepare.

You’ll put a sippy cup of milk in the fridge the night before along with a cereal bar, or maybe a yogurt pouch. That way you can stumble, blurry-eyed to the kitchen and grab a nutritious, pre-breakfast snack to keep his tummy happy while you get some more shut-eye.

You search Pinterest for a DIY toddler clock to help him know when it’s ok to get up. He’s not too young for a clock, right? After all, he’ll sit for 30 minutes at a stretch drilling ABC flashcards. He understands letters, why not numbers too?

It’s worth a shot.

Of course, his room will be a wreck after the pre-dawn playtime. You thought little guys slept reasonable amounts of time, but Rabbit seems to run on less sleep than most humans. He’s even showing signs of giving up his afternoon nap. He’s only two! That’s not supposed to happen yet, is it? Anyway, if you’re not going to be a zombie-mom, tidying up a room first thing in the morning is a sacrifice you’re willing to make. Maybe you can post pictures of his room in each area that show him what “clean” looks like. You’re pretty sure he can make reality match the pictures.

To your surprise and delight, your plan works like a charm. He gets the clock. He likes the independent playtime. He even enjoys the grown-up challenge of taking care of his own room.  You suspected for quite some time that he’s just a short grown up.  This most recent experience just reaffirms your suspicions.

But now, it seems you’ve created something of a rabbity little monster. Now he thinks he should do everything for himself. “My do it!” is his new motto, quickly turned battle cry. And a few days later, socks are the battleground. He knows how to slip on pants with elastic in the waist. And as long as you get his shirt over his head, he can handle getting his arms through the sleeves. But now he insists on putting his own socks on his tiny toddler feet.

His brain understands the concept, but try as he might, his hands don’t have the dexterity to get those toddler socks on his Rabbit feet. You let him work at it a little, but you can see the inevitable so you start to intervene.

And the battle is on!

In the skirmish and among shouts of protest and battle cry, you practically sit on this pint-sized warrior to hold those feet still as you skillfully slip the socks on. And the shoes while you’re there. For good measure. You fall away exhausted, only to find that Rabbit is not. He has not surrendered. He is not thankful for your assistance. He’s angry at your invasion.

If these toddler scenes sound familiar, you may be the mom of a Rabbit. Rabbits are fairly common, making up about 17% of the population. So, if there are 10 kids on the playground, there’s a very good chance at least one of them is a Rabbit. Can you spot him… or her? Rabbits are twice as likely to be boys as girls, but there are girl rabbits too.

All Rabbits are unique. Your Rabbit may not demonstrate all of the characteristics mentioned today, or may not demonstrate them to the same degree of intensity. But if your child really is a Rabbit, most of what you hear should sound strikingly familiar.

You’re a good mom.

You see his amazing potential, and raising a happy, healthy, and successful Rabbit is your goal. It always has been. It’s behind everything you do.

At the start of this journey, you thought it was a fairly straightforward task. But now you’re beginning to realize that there are some fuzzy lines between gumption, ambition, and disobedience. The clear right and wrong isn’t so clear anymore. And you second-guess what is rebellion and what is immaturity.

You see one thing about your Rabbit very clearly: he’s always busy, active, and on a mission to take on increasing amounts of responsibility and self-direction.

Then it dawns on you. He could sock just fine if only they’d slip over his feet a little more easily. So you buy him bigger socks.

Lydia is the mother of a Rabbit.

My name is Lydia and I am the mother of a Rabbit. I love my Rabbit. He’s awesome. I am a Tigger, which means I have no structuring ability at all. And one of the things a Rabbit needs is structure in their life. When he got to the age that he could take some ownership of his life, I could say, “I know you love structure. I’m in my 40s. It’s not going to happen from my end, but if you want structure, please create some for yourself.” And that’s helped him to take ownership of his schedule and his own routine and things like that.

R-E-S-P-E-C-T

I think top of the list is that he really, really needs to be respected. He needs to know that I respect him. You know how boys start to transition at around 10 years old from, “I’ve been Mom’s little boy for a long time,” to “I want to be Daddy’s man.” A lot of times that’s when relationships between moms and sons begin to fall apart.

And so, I told him, “Look. Our goal out of you growing to be a man is that we will have an intact relationship when you move out of the house. And in order to do that, we are going to have to respect each other. So I’m going to do my best to treat you like a man, but you have to treat me with respect too.” Respect is important for all boys, for all people, but especially for men. But it’s particularly important to Rabbits.

Principles

One of the things that motivates Rabbits is principles. If I said something or he had an experience where he then had an angry reaction, what I learned pretty early on is that it is really helpful if we could identify the principle that had been violated. Then we had something we could sort out.

I can remember one time he was so upset, and I had already identified the principle we were aiming for, but he just could not wrap his mind around it. And finally we figured out that he was holding onto a different principle, which was valid. But the principle that needed to be applied in that moment was a different one. And we just had to talk through how, yes, it is right and just to do the thing that he was holding so tight, but there are times and situations when another principle goes on top of it.

Once we talked through the order of principles, he was able to see why they worked out the way they had and he was ok with it. It’s important to help them work through that because a young person doesn’t have perspective to know the complexities of life. So just helping them to realize that just because you hold this principle really tightly doesn’t mean it applies in every situation. It’s not always black and white. There are grey areas. And helping him to navigate the grey areas is important.

I guess if I was to say my top three things for Rabbits that I’ve had with my young man, it’s probably respect is really, really high; understanding that they’re driven by principles is really important; and then, really, he thrives in structure.

It’s natural to get excited about homeschooling Rabbit.

You feel like it’s going to be easy. After all, by the time he’s four he knows his alphabet, he can count to 100, and he basically taught himself to read. Most Rabbits do these kinds of things. If you make any missteps at all, it tends to be starting him too early on something. But that’s just because he seems much older than his age.

You won’t even realize your error until years later, when training your other children reveals how crazy some of your expectations for young Rabbit really are. But God makes Rabbits pretty tough. They have their own drive for success and respect. So most of the time Rabbit manages to meet your unrealistic expectations anyway. And you gradually learn to recognize when you’ve gone too far and pushed too early.

In general, though, the elementary years of schooling Rabbit are a breeze. He’s got a mind for remembering facts, listening to and following directions, discussing ideas, and giving oral compositions. They just come naturally to him.

Not everything comes easily.

Writing tends to be a little more frustrating because his physical skill limits his mental and verbal skill. And as you learned in the toddler years, Rabbit doesn’t take kindly to being limited by much of anything — even himself. Separating the physical mastery of penmanship from the mental mastery of good communication seems like the wise choice. And once you get that figured out, Rabbit is a happy little guy. He loves school. He loves the structure and routine of his daily schedule.

Rabbit likes for people to be a significant part of his day. He always has. He loves co-op, playgroups, sports teams, and often rises to the top of the heap as a leader of any group he joins. He’s a teacher’s and coach’s dream and they often tell you that.

But at home, as the family grows and Rabbit’s siblings need one-on-one time with you too, you see the flip side of all this people-orientedness. Rabbit has a hard time working independently for very long. It’s not that he legitimately needs your help with the task. For some reason, your physical presence helps him stay productive. And that doesn’t make sense to you. You feel torn with the weight of all the other demands for your time with the non-productivity of just sitting there. Is this a problem? Is this something you need to challenge him to push through and discipline himself to handle? After all, you know there are times as an adult that you have to be able to work independently. Yeah. There’s a balance he needs to learn here.

So you add it to the training list.

You start with short lessons — 10 minutes at a time — where you expect him to stay focused and productive. If he gets off track, you end the lesson and move on to something else. It’s a gentle way to highlight his failure to stay on task. Rabbit likes to finish things, so a lesson ended before he crosses the finish line is not a happy thing. It’s just enough correction for him to resolve to do better tomorrow. And he does. You gradually increase the time and frequency of his independent work, and before long, you can trust him to work on an assignment for 20 minutes at a time without daydreaming or checking out.

As long as you take it objectively and systematically, Rabbit grows and adjusts to becoming an independent learner. And that’s the key — objectively and systematically. Whether it’s sports, art, music, cooking, or anything else, Rabbit enjoys the mastery process. But he wants how-to instruction. He loves following a recipe, formula, or process that he knows will lead him to success. Rabbit does not want to feel his way forward, experiment, or figure it out for himself by trial and error. And if you put him in that situation?

Rabbit experiences stress.

You may not always know how stressed because he’s reserved with his feelings, but he is stressed. You come to see that Rabbit feels threatened by looking incompetent when he’s learning something for the first time. So when Rabbit balks or pushes back, it’s usually a signal that he has unanswered questions. He may not even realize it. So rather than pushing, you take the time to talk it out, which makes Rabbit feel more confident. It just takes some time, respect, and finesse.

As the elementary years come to a close, you’re feeling good about parenting Rabbit. He’s different from you, but he’s logical and consistent, which makes you feel like he’s understandable and predictable. You’re making progress. You’re getting the hang of him. And then he turns 13. Somehow, the struggles you experienced with Rabbit as a 3 year old rear their ugly heads again. But this time, Rabbit has a lot more intelligence, verbal skill, and physical ability than he did when he was fighting you over who would put socks on his feet.

Jeff is a Rabbit and the father of a Rabbit.

My name is Jeff, and I’m a Rabbit. Chaos and disorder makes Rabbits crazy because it is an unnecessary obstacle in the middle of a plan. It is like you are either intentionally, or negligently, or recklessly putting obstacles in front of yourself by failing to plan.

If you just want to take a little curved path and want to have this fun little experience along the way, that’s fine. But it’s either, let a Rabbit be in charge, or very clearly tell a Rabbit, “This is what we’re going to do. This is the goal. We’re going to have these experiences along the way. It is not a straight line. We’re going to have a curved path.” Which is why itineraries and agendas are kind of big because we want to know what the experience is going to be ahead of time because Rabbits don’t like surprises. I don’t like surprises, which is why, as a Rabbit, in order to avoid chaos, I constantly work out scenarios in my head. If I know I’m going to do this thing tomorrow, I think about it a lot tonight — how this experience is going to go.

Lazy and incompetent are two different things.

Incompetent may just be they don’t know. It may be ignorance. And both of those seem like buzzwords or dirty words. Incompetence, in our culture, is a dirty word because it means either you’re dumb or you’re stupid or that you’re lazy. To me, incompetent is not a synonym of lazy. Incompetent means you just don’t know. You do not have the skill. And a contributing factor could be that you’re lazy, but it may be nobody’s taught you. Either you can be apprenticed or you can be shown or whatever.

I will spend time with an incompetent person. I will not spend any time on a lazy person because you can still be motivated and be incompetent — I want to do this thing, I just need somebody to help me, or I don’t know how, or I physically can’t do this, but I need this accomplished. Can you help? So if you’re willing and just not able, that’s one thing. But if you’re lazy, I will probably spend two tries trying to un-lazy you. But if this goal in front of you is not enough to motivate you, then why should it motivate me? Or if it’s a goal of mine, I’m not going to have anybody lazy on my team. Laziness does not accomplish any mission at all, and Rabbits are mission-minded. Incompetent people fail for all the right reasons. Lazy people fail for no reason at all.

Rabbit does things for Christopher Robin
A.A. Milne, The House at Pooh Corner

School gets more challenging.

Elementary school was going well. But long about 6th grade, you noticed a shift in the academic material. Things seemed to step up a notch. Rabbit is no longer expected to take in basic facts and details. Now he needs to begin using some critical thinking skills too. Sometimes that goes well, but other times it doesn’t. Particularly when people are involved.

Rabbit is great at telling you what happened in a story. But analyzing why it happened tends to be tricky for him. He’s just not as skilled at putting himself in the shoes of another and figuring out why they are doing what they are doing. In Rabbit’s opinion, if the author wants us to know the why, he or she should just say so. From Rabbit’s perspective, either a character’s behavior and choices are logical or they are not. That’s it. That’s all he’s got. Of course sometimes he uses substitutes for “logical.” Their behavior makes sense or it doesn’t. Their behavior is smart or it’s stupid. It’s right or it’s wrong.

Maybe this black and white thinking has been happening all along.

But now it’s starting to come out of Rabbit’s mouth with more frequency and fewer filters. Overnight, his brain and confidence are supercharged, but his ability to control all that power can’t keep up. Those muscles aren’t as strong as they need to be just yet. And it starts causing problems for Rabbit…and anyone who cares about him.

This is where it gets really tricky for parents of a Rabbit — particularly his mom. To him, he’s not trying to be bossy or mean or disrespectful. He sees an idea, and he sees it from a very impersonal, objective angle. And the way he learns more about the idea is to discuss it. At least, he thinks he’s trying to discuss it. Really it seems more like he’s either using it to whack upside another idea or vice versa. Nevertheless, he is focused on the impersonal idea — often completely unaware that it is personal to others. They react with emotion. And he is surprised, confused, and maybe a little annoyed.

What do you do?

Your first response is to censor Rabbit. He’s not being nice. You are very in tune with the way people feel and you catch it immediately when Rabbit’s debate sparks a change in the emotional temperature of a room. Surely he didn’t mean to say what he just said. Or he didn’t realize how it sounded. So you run to his rescue.

You throw him a lifeline of a suggestion of what he meant to say — one that attempts to blend his statement with the other person’s known point of view. Surely he will realize why you’re saying what you’re saying. Surely he will realize you are softening a blow that just landed unintentionally on someone else. But he doesn’t catch that. All he hears now is your inaccurate statement that plays right into his very argument. And he just keeps on going with all the subtlety of a bull in a china shop.

So you escalate to phase 2 of your rescue mission. Direct shut-down. You give him the look. It’s the expression your face automatically makes when you’re thinking inside your head, “Are you crazy? What is wrong with you? Stop talking!” You know the one. Unfortunately, so does everyone else in that room and Rabbit does not miss that fact. And that wounds him because, from his perspective, you are shutting him down for no reason — or at least not a very good one. You are not respecting him. His thoughts. His logic. His perspective. Him.

And with that, he withdraws a small piece of his heart from you.

This situation unfortunately repeats itself over and over again. The supporting cast changes. Sometimes the conversation is with his father, a sibling, a grandparent. Other times it’s with a friend of the family, a teacher, a parent of a friend, a leader at church. And you keep trying to shield and protect…everyone…including Rabbit. You’re starting to feel like a referee between Rabbit and the world. And for all your efforts, you keep losing little pieces of his heart. You don’t like this new role and you’re not sure how much more of it you can take. How long will it take before he understands what he is doing? Does he even care?

Of course he does. He just has a very different perspective and set of preferences than you do. And he is unaware of these differences. He assumes everyone thinks the way he does. Just like you can easily default into thinking everyone thinks the way you do. It’s when we brush up against people who surprise us with different responses that we remember each person is different. Not everyone is like you. Not everyone is like me. And not everyone is like Rabbit. For most of us, this is a lesson we eventually learn from the School of Hard Knocks. Rabbit just hasn’t learned it yet. And I’m sorry to tell you, this particular course usually stretches over many semesters, many years even.

Here’s what you don’t realize yet.

There is something Rabbit needs to hear from you — every day, no matter what is going on, sometimes stated clearly and out loud, but definitely in your face, your eyes when you look at him, and your body language. You need to clearly and frequently communicate to him: I believe in you, and I know I can trust you with this. So when you rush into a situation with your referee’s whistle, he hears you saying, “You can no longer be trusted. Now I must intervene.”

And that hurts Rabbit.

Ellen is a girl Rabbit.

My name is Ellen, and I’m a Rabbit. Girl Rabbits face kind of a unique challenge in American culture. A lot of my friends were characterized or described as sweet, and I knew I was not unkind, but I would never have said, “Oh, I’m a sweet girl.” I love people, and I love having friendships. But there was just a part of me that didn’t understand how the other person worked.

I was often described as bossy. I understood that I had a more dominant personality, and the only thing people could say to me that really hurt my feelings is to call me bossy. Of course, I had to shrug it off like, “Oh, you know. No big deal.” But it actually really hurt because I never was wanting to be bossy. It just seems whatever I’m thinking in my head doesn’t come out my mouth right or it’s not received the way I intended it to be.

I was in high school when I realized somehow the way I communicated hurt other people’s feelings. I actually got kind of fed up with it. “Why do I have to tiptoe around other people’s feelings? Why can’t they deal with their own feelings and think the best of me because, obviously, I’m not trying to hurt their feelings.”

Now that I’ve gotten older…

I’ve realized that it is my responsibility to be careful of how I say things. It’s just a struggle I have and I have to really be considerate of other people’s feelings. Oftentimes that means keeping my mouth shut if I’m not sure how to say something. If I’m not sure it’s going to be received well, just closing my mouth.

Obviously there is right and wrong, but there is bounded diversity. I’ve especially seen this now in parenting. As a Rabbit, I feel very strongly about the choices that I make. But that doesn’t mean that the other person who chose something different made the wrong choice. So when it comes to just talking about why I chose to do one thing, I have to be careful about the way that I talk. I just have to run the filter all the time.

It’s been nice in marriage to not have to do that because I am married to another Rabbit. And we’ve definitely had some struggles with me coming off as bossy. I’ve noticed that I come to him telling him what I think instead of prefacing it with, “Hey. You’re the leader in our household. Here is some information for you to make a decision.” Early on that was kind of difficult. He realizes that that is always what I’m thinking in my head — that he’s the leader — and when I’m talking and I’m sounding really direct, I’m not making a decision. We’ve kind of worked through the way that I am and I can kind of be more myself with my husband and he understands me.

The high school years arrive and you feel the clock ticking down.

Four more years. That’s 48 months, or 208 weeks left before Rabbit launches into the adult world. Rabbits are not the adultolescents who still live in their parents’ basements when they’re 30. They are more likely to be the ones who lied about their age to get into the military in World War II. They have lives to live, goals to achieve, a world to conquer, and they will do it as early as possible.

These last few years in your home introduce a new wrestling match. Some would describe them as a butterfly struggling to break free from its chrysalis or a chick pecking its way through the shell. To you it feels more like a thoroughbred busting his stall apart so he can get to the racetrack. Unfortunately you are in the stall as it is being kicked to pieces.

It started with complaining about the unnecessary academic subjects you’re making him study. Then it spread to chores or other home management tasks you assigned. Before long, it included pretty much any statement that came out of your mouth. Everything was a debate waiting to happen.

Enough is enough.

You did what you could to hold your ground, maintain your perspective, present logical and unemotional responses. And, thankfully, when your husband started noticing how you were wearing down, he stepped in. With mixed emotions, you watched tentatively as they stood nose to nose and Rabbit’s father quietly but firmly said, “Son, you will not treat my wife that way. Enough is enough. Do we understand each other?”

“Yes, sir.” answers the wise, young Rabbit.

And just like that, Rabbit dialed it back a notch. The boundary line had been redrawn and reinforced. He knows it’s there and you get a bit of a reprieve. Not a lot, but a bit, and it’s a welcome bit. So now Rabbit turns his kicking toward others in authority over him. And they each have their own ways of dealing with him.

One leader, a good leader who cares about Rabbit and wants good for him,  runs circles around him. He stretches him. Challenges him. Corrects him. It’s like a severely unfair wrestling match. Rabbit finds himself pinned over and over again. Debate — Rabbit’s learning style — is not allowed. Questions are limited. Expectations are not regularly articulated. Quick obedience is really the only option when this leader is in go mode and the team is working on any project. Rabbit thinks this is his worst nightmare, facing a reprimand for too much talk and not enough action or a job improperly done. It’s a lose-lose as far as he’s concerned. And his frustration is building.

So Rabbit starts looking for shortcuts.

He starts applying his bright mind — scheming — for the privilege he wants right now without accountability or responsibility. In short, he starts figuring out how to dabble in the grey area while still looking like a responsible, respectable young man in public. And this works for a while. He gets away with it.

Soon, though, you and your husband start to uncover the truth. And there is only one thing to do. You have to restore the balance.

The P-A-R principle states that we all have Privileges, Accountability, and Responsibility that must stay at similar levels. When we carry more responsibility than the privilege, we are in a corrupt system. Balance needs to be restored. More frequently, though, we tend to grasp for greater privilege than the responsibility we are willing to accept. When that happens, we are in rebellion and must experience judgement followed by correction to restore the balance. This is what is happening with Rabbit.

With each milestone that leads into adulthood, Rabbit has enjoyed new levels of responsibility and privilege.

Learning to drive. Getting a job. Opening a bank account. Making more and more decisions for himself. These things whet Rabbit’s appetite and he begins to crave more — more than his parents and leaders agree to, more than what his accepted responsibilities earn for him, more than what is right. Rabbit is in rebellion. Balance must be restored. For his good.

The solution is simple. Logical. But not easy. Privileges must be removed and responsibility must be increased. In several areas of life. One of the most challenging is in church life. Rabbit has the opportunity to participate in a mission trip that is almost a month long. It is a great opportunity. The first half is full of hard work and great training — physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual training. The second half of the trip will be easier. Though that is the part of the trip that is more along the lines of what you think when you hear mission trip, you and your husband know that it is also the high profile, pats on the back, glory and admiration part of the trip.

You both talk it over with the trip leader, and you all agree.

The best thing for Rabbit right now is to do all the hard work and receive very little credit. He will complete the first part of the trip. Then he will stand in the parking lot and, as a good teammate, he will see the rest of the team off, wish them well, and pray for their success. And he will return home to live an ordinary week or so while the rest of the team goes off for an adventure. And when they return home, he will rejoice with them. He will celebrate their success. Because life is about teamwork, sacrifice, and doing what is best for others. It is not about personal glory. And Rabbits who understand this are unstoppable.

One day, your Rabbit will be unstoppable. But first, he has to go through some hard correction. And he must be given the chance to self-correct. The question is, will he do it? Or will he add his parents to the list of leaders who are obstacles to his goals? And you know what Rabbit thinks about obstacles. This is a really hard path to walk. And you pray it is the right one.

Joshua is the brother of a Rabbit.

I’m Joshua. I am a Kanga. And I’m the younger brother of Jonathan who is a Rabbit.

Jonathan really likes things to be logical and structured and orderly and for there to be a reason — a discerned reason — for every action. And because I’m a very abstract, more emotionally driven person, there are times that I make decisions for a reason but not for a reason I am yet able to articulate. He will frequently read that as I have no reason — which can then cause me to question myself. So when I make a gut-feel decision and I can’t articulate the reason why, I feel foolish and like I’m not doing my due diligence to think things through.

Jonathan and I are exact polar opposites. So everything that he has a strength in, I probably have a weakness in and vice versa. Everything that he thinks makes sense and wants to do naturally, I actively oppose and vice versa. We are constantly in conflict.

Hard, but worth it.

As hard as it is to meet in the middle, to get each other to understand where the other is coming from and come to a decision, it’s always very worth it in the end. There are things that inevitably I’m not going to see. And there are going to be things that he’s missing. So when we are able to humble ourselves and be patient with each other and work together, we can fill all the gaps that the other has — to the point that there basically aren’t any gaps left.

It takes a very long time and an enormous amount of patience to get there. But once we get there, we pretty much always land on the right thing to do. That brings an extreme amount of comfort, actually, because when I am able to work closely with Jonathan — although I know that I’ll be frustrated at times — I know that I never have to be worried that we’re going to miss something or mess something up because I know that he is catching my blind spots and he knows that I’m catching his. There isn’t really a blind spot at that point — if we’re willing to do the work.

There are few certainties in life.

I wish I could tell you that understanding your child’s personality unlocks all the secrets of perfect parenting. It doesn’t. It’s not a crystal ball. There is no magical formula or checklist that will guarantee parent-child success. But understanding personality can be something of a Rosetta Stone.

Most people read Rabbits as the ones who are tough-minded, confident, and without need of pats on the back or attaboys. And many Rabbits will say at one time or another, “I don’t care what people think about me.” Don’t you believe them for a second. Rabbits are just like anyone else. They want to be understood and loved. They just have a hard time asking for it because those desires cross the logic-feeling barrier in a way they can’t quite put their finger on.

Jonathan is a Rabbit.

My name is Jonathan and I’m a Rabbit. People will either see me happy, or stoic, or irritated. It’s not even the mad, sad, glad — it’s maybe mad and most of the time just even-keeled. But that does not reflect what is actually going on internally. It’s just what I present. I think that’s a big thing with Rabbits. It’s not that we don’t have emotion. It’s that we don’t show it. With the Feeler, it’s a retraction. They are reigning their emotions in by choice. For me, it’s more of a choice to push stuff out and to actually force emotion to show. If you ask us what we’re feeling, we can actually give you a fairly thorough response. But what people don’t realize is that I actually experience emotions very deeply and I can very easily be emotionally hurt.

Another misunderstanding I also think is fairly common with Rabbits is that we are perceived as arrogant and argumentative because of the way that we express our thoughts. I’m able to solidify my own opinions and perspectives if I extrovert them into the world.

I can either think internally very slowly, or I can externalize my thoughts and just deal with them out there.

And then I see what other people’s response is to what I said. If they do raise a counterpoint or argument, then we’ve got a debate and for me, debate, that’s really where I do most of my best learning. We just have a conversation and kind of attack the other perspective. Gradually, either one of us is won over to the other person’s camp or we realize we’re 75% correct and the other person has the other 25% and we both get a better perspective because of it. I’ve gotten better at beginning to ask people questions, but left to my own devices, I’m going to choose to just say things and deal with the the fallout afterwards in order to expand perspective.

There is nobody that is harder on me than I am.

So when someone piles their own discouragement of how I handled the situation, I feel that disappointment worse than what it is that you’re communicating. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t criticize Rabbits. It’s not that. It’s more just how you criticize, you need to approach it extremely carefully. All you’ll see is this stoic, blank face and you’ll receive logical output. We’ve dealt with the behavior. I’ll change the behavior, but there is an emotional aspect that hasn’t even been dealt with because you didn’t think to ask of it and I didn’t think to give it to you.

It can be tricky to be the parent…

…of a tough-minded — sometimes hard-headed — Rabbit who has a secret nougatty center few people get to see. So understanding the role their thinking and logic plays in the person they are becoming is absolutely necessary in training them up in the way they should go. Armed with this understanding, you greatly increase your chances of correcting them when they are rebellious, encouraging them when they are afraid, helping them when they are weak, and telling the difference between those three — so you successfully break their will, not their spirit.

This is such an important goal for parents because Rabbits grow up to be the next generation’s Engineers, Managers, Financial Advisers, Lawyers, Officers, Physicians, and more. The world needs them in all their rabbitty glory. They are the ones who keep the world moving forward in an organized and logical manner. Without them, a lot less would be accomplished. So love your Rabbit and train him to team well, sacrifice, and use his strengths for the good of others rather than his own personal glory. In a word, train him to be unstoppable!

Rabbit Brains Out a Notice (excerpt)
A.A. Milne, The House at Pooh Corner

The weekly blog posts that will follow this episode dive into more specifics of raising a happy, healthy, successful Rabbit. We’ll explore topics like how to correct him effectively, school subjects no Rabbit should miss, and which careers Rabbits rock. When you support the show for just $5 a month, you get access to lots of great information like this as well as a chance to ask questions and discuss these ideas further.

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