Natural Strength Parenting™ (NSP™) is Beech Acres Parenting Center’s distinct approach to parenting. Natural Strength Parenting™ integrates the concepts of intentionality and mindfulness to help parents better see and encourage their children’s unique, innate strengths. Research supports the benefits of each of these three ideas in helping all types of people achieve their goals. However, Beech Acres Parenting Center is the first organization to recognize the power of combining intentionality, mindfulness, and strengths into one foundational approach to parenting.
Intentionality. Mindfulness. Strengths. Okay, these are the pillars of NSP™, but how do the three ideas fit together? That question had been on Jim Mason’s mind for quite a while, “What the three practices create together; that’s what’s special to me.”
Natural Strength Parenting™ is the culmination of 170 years of parenting experience at Beech Acres Parenting Center. It’s a natural evolution for the organization as we look forward over the next 170 years. “The world is changing rapidly and creating a lot of stress for everyone,” Jim said. “What will the future look like, and how will that affect the family? We need new ways of thinking and relating to each other in order to survive and thrive. Natural Strength Parenting™ provides a blueprint for doing so.”
Following are definitions of each pillar and how they fit together:
Intentional; Discern your unique purpose, create the life you envision and clarify the values you will teach your children.
Natural Strength Parenting™ was founded on the belief that each of us is born with our own unique purpose in life to contribute to the world. Many of us struggle to figure out what that is, some never do. Personal motivation is found when our purpose is discovered. Purposeful living is about making our inner life match our outer self. It’s the energy that moves us joyfully from day to day. Author Steven Covey has made famous the phrase, ‘Start with the end in mind.’ We ask parents to imagine the legacy they want to leave their children and the values they want them to have when they become adults.
To be intentional is to live a proactive, purposeful life instead of a reactive life on auto-pilot.
Strength-Based; Discover and develop one’s natural gifts to create a sense of mastery, empowerment, and connection with one’s passion.
Everyone is born with unique natural gifts. While intentionality provides the vision for the future we want, our natural strengths provide the fuel we need to achieve it. By living from our known strengths, our lives can shift from burdensome to gratifying.
Jim explained, “I have seen thousands of vulnerable children in my career, many with very serious internal problems and external obstacles. Yet, every single child had some sort of spark inside, a spark that may have been stifled or diminished by traumatic events. When they discovered their natural gifts, they invariably found hope and blossomed.”
“A parent’s most important job is to help her child find his or her unique sparks (strengths) and nurture those sparks to a positive bene t for them and society,” Jim said. “In fact, our life’s purpose often derives from the dynamic relationship between our natural strengths and our environment.” By focusing on natural strengths, parents can promote a life with a deeper sense of meaning, joy, and passion….not just for their children, but themselves as well. Parents who encourage their children’s strengths can help them reach their incredible potential. As we come to understand and practice our natural gifts, we become stronger and more self-confident. This builds the resilience and skills to resist the myriad negative influences surrounding us. Our passions ignite an energy that motivates us to pursue what is truly important and valuable to us. It is the best preventive medicine available!
Beech Acres Parenting Center utilizes the VIA Character Strengths Survey to discover each parent and child’s unique mix of strengths. It takes less than 30 minutes to complete on-line but can provide a lifetime of helpful information. “There are many different strengths tools available. We use the VIA because of its universality for everyone,” Jim explained.
Mindful; Be present, fully engaged and accepting in the moment.
The effort to be intentional and to develop strengths is not simply a theory, nor is it complicated. But, as the saying goes, you must be present to win! The practice of Natural Strength Parenting™ requires that we are present in the moment and paying attention, nonjudgmentally, to what is happening. We can only see our child’s strengths if our minds are open to them and purposely noticing what she/he is doing. Likewise, we can only set a specific intention for the future if we are aware of our current situation. So, mindfulness simply means paying attention, on purpose, in each moment without judgment, to what is happening around me.
Mindfulness provides us with the basic ability to be intentional and strength-based. In that way, mindfulness is the glue that holds the whole Natural Strength Parenting™ approach together.
Jim informed, “When we are really paying attention in each moment, and not judging who is saying or doing whatever, we have an amazing opportunity to connect with our kids in ways that are truly magical.”
Putting it all together.
In a recent poll of Greater Cincinnati parents commissioned by Beech Acres, 44% of parents surveyed said, “understanding their kids’ mental health” is “very or extremely important” to me. Those same parents also told us they are interested in “building on my child’s innate strengths”. That’s good news. It is interesting that a high percentage of parents are concerned about their children’s mental health, yet also seem to understand that building on that child’s unique strengths will help increase their coping skills. Natural Strength Parenting™ is designed to help parents do just that. Seeing and nurturing our child’s innate strengths helps build the personal resilience that leads to good mental health and well-being.
Natural Strength Parenting™ is at the core of all we do at Beech Acres Parenting Center and is the foundation of each of our 20+ programs, impacting over 20,000 children, parents, and families each year.“We are excited about the overall impact we can have in the community with an approach that helps us all maximize our gifts to overcome our obstacles,” Jim concluded.