While my dad used graph paper, T-squares, unique rulers, and other drafting materials on the table in our family room, I made designs by coloring in squares on my own pieces of graph paper. I also used rulers and colored pencils to make designs with lines at a variety of angles on unlined paper.

I loved my dad and spending time with him while we were “working” was special to me. My observations and activities awakened my picture-smart intelligence. Strengths today continue to be with graphs, charts, maps, and diagrams rather than with color and art in the classic sense.

The earlier an intelligence is awakened, the greater the chance it will be a strength. Parents have important power.

I don’t remember us talking much during those times because my dad really was working. He was an engineer for a major company and also volunteered as the chairman of the Landmark Commission of our city. He also helped others with building projects. Although some of these evening experiences might have been for his job, many were for others.

Being alone with my own thoughts – being self smart – was awakened and strengthened during these times of sitting and working near my dad. So was an awareness that serving others had value. I learned that skills used for the good of others were more valued than other skills.

Parents have important power. Their presence and actions teach. It doesn’t always take words to make an impact.

Today would have been my dad’s 90th birthday. It’s, of course, one of the days I think of him more. Regarding the development of my intelligences, in addition to picture and self, as discussed above, he (along with my mom) was very instrumental:

  • He listened to me talk and talk, not paralyzing my word-smart gifts even though I’m quite sure he would have loved me to be quiet more often. He encouraged me to join the forensics team when I was in high school. He supported my choice to become a teacher – a word-smart career. If he wouldn’t have supported my budding word-smart strengths, I might not be writing this blog today. He made a huge difference. Huge! I’m so grateful!
  • He answered my questions and budgeted to take our family on vacations to important historical sites and museums. He modeled the value of math and science. My logic-smart intelligence grew.
  • Developing my music smart was important to my dad. He sacrificed to pay for private piano and viola lessons, listened to me practice, and attended every orchestra and band concert. He and my mom even attended concerts when I was in college. They also came to watch my brother and I march in the marching band during football game halftime shows. (It was a 3½ hour drive one-way and between Dave and I, they attended college concerts and games for 7 years – willingly!)
  • My body smart was developed when my dad and mom responded with love to my concerns about my height and clumsiness. If they wouldn’t have enrolled me in tap dance classes, I think my future might have been very different.
  • Even though I’m not very nature smart, I never felt rejected by my dad. Never. He loved dogs and other animals and I didn’t. He and my mom created beautiful gardens for our yard. I remain forever grateful that he didn’t make me feel bad that we didn’t share this strength.
  • Through rich and engaging dinner-time conversations and observing my dad and others with people skills, my people-smart intelligence was awakened. He always supported my need to interact.

Parents have important power. How are you using yours? How did your parents use theirs? Perhaps recognizing their role in how you are smart will bless them and further empower you to do well by your kids. I know my dad loved knowing how he helped me in these specific ways. I can’t imagine your dad is any different.

I’d love to hear what your dad has done well for you. Please take a minute to comment below.