Parenting with Color

My fiancé and I are both Red. Her Blue 13 year old son Gabe came home from school yesterday. “I feel depressed.”, he said.

“Ha!”, I quipped, “What do you have to feel depressed over? You don’t even have a life yet!”

“Seriously?!”, Mom chimed in, “Go do your homework and chores!  You don’t have time to stand around being depressed!”

Typical Red responses, right? It’s hard for us to even imagine what being depressed would feel like. It just sounds like annoying whining to us. Later that night, Gabe came in to inform us that he would like to call a family meeting. He has some very serious issues to discuss about his sister and the chores around here that need to be worked out.  “Oh brother,” I thought while sighing and looking over at my fiancé.  “Here we go.” She was rolling her eyes and thinking the same thing I was. We both knew what was coming. Another Blue tantrum/lecture filled with guilt trips about how unfair the chores are dealt out and the injustice of it all.  And about what?  Who feeds the cats?!  I just want to laugh and say, “Dude, what does it take to feed the cats,about 1 minute? You want to have an hour long family meeting over that?  Grow up!”  But, I manage to be nice, keep it to myself and try to act like I’m interested and concerned.

Later that night, as we’re getting ready for bed, I remembered the Color Code.  Maybe that can help. So, we pulled out the Color Code and skimmed through the chapter on Reds and Blues as a guide.

One thing that stood out to us both was the Blue need for appreciation.  It used to be that Gabe was the “good” child.  Always did everything right.  Did well in school.  Always got recognition and praise.  All that changed in the last few months.  Gabe has been struggling with the transition into middle school.  The home work load is tougher.  The social distractions and demands are trickier.  The result?  His younger sister has been stealing the lime light.  She has been getting all the attention and praise of doing so well in school now.  Is that what all this comes down to?  Gabe is not getting enough of the appreciation he craves anymore?

Can it be so simple?  Again, it’s hard for us Red parents to imagine.  We don’t need appreciation.  We do things for the challenge.  To win or just to get things done.  We don’t expect any recognition over it.   I actually feel slightly awkward when I am recognized with appreciation.  I either think, “So what?  It’s just my job.” Or “Alright buddy, what are you trying to get from me now?”  It is hard for me to imagine someone that actually wants that.  With Gabe, I want to say, “So what?  Get over it.  Suck it up.  With all this time you have spent crying about how much homework you have, you could have finished half of it by now!”

An interesting side note here:  Why is he falling behind in his school work?  Because of Blue perfectionism.  He actually does amazing work.  He writes better stories as a 6th grader than most professional adult writers.

So, what did we do?  We began to publicly lavish him with praise and appreciation for all his amazing school work.  We also pointed out and recognized how well he was keeping up with his chores around the house.  I pointed out all the reasons why his story was actually more than good enough to be published.  I also gently suggested to him that it might be a little overkill for his class assignment to write a 2 page short story.  His was 15 pages long with illustrations!   “Not every assignment has to win the Pulitzer Prize in literature.”, I reminded him, “Just enough to get an A on the assignment is just fine.”

Did it work?  Like a charm.  The ‘depression’ disappeared. He is happier. Doing well in school again. The only trouble now is with his sister.  She is a Blue also.  So now she is feeling insecure, depressed and worried about what is wrong with her!  God help us.


Barrington,MarshallWhen he is not playing poker or living in his 20’ Sioux tipi in the Rockies, Marshall Barrington lives in a small quiet Swedish town in central Kansas with his family.  He has degrees in Business Administration, Marketing and Psychology.  He trains, hires and manages new insurance adjusters to process claims at catastrophe sites.  He is also a Certified Color Code trainer.  His highly acclaimed classes apply Color Code to specific problems:  Management, Sales, Human Resources, Dating, Marriage, Parenting and a new workshop for Fiction Writers -Using Color Code to create realistic Characters, conflict & dialogue. 




Using Color Code as a Crutch

“Don’t mind me. I’m a Blue…”

I was in a crowded restaurant when I overheard the comment from another table. My first thought was, “Good. People are using the Color Code.” My second thought was, “But the context in which she was using it was as an excuse for her bad behavior.”

It reminded me about the time I was trying to explain to my angry ‘tween granddaughter that she (Red) and her mother (Blue) are both strong and controlling. The relationship will have natural obstacles and she should try to understand her mother’s need to plan, organize and carry out all aspects of her daughter’s life. This is her way of showing love.

She went home that night and told her mother, “Grandma says you are controlling and that I will NEVER get along with you because you’re a BLUE!

The phone call I got wasn’t pretty. “Did you tell my daughter…?!”

I asked her to put my granddaughter on the phone. After patiently reminding her about the conversation we did have, I put on my best Red voice and said, “Never use the Color Code for evil.”

But how many of us do, in fact, use the Color Code to validate bad behavior? I hear it all the time—even in Color Code corporate office. It’s hard to resist. But, we are doing ourselves, and others a disservice by using Color Code as a crutch.

I was talking to a couple the one night. The topic of kids came up and I asked them how their oldest son, an adult who still lived with them, was doing.

“He’s not working right now,” they said.

“No, he isn’t dating,” they said.

“He’s very quiet, no trouble at all,” they said.

Then in confidential tones, she put her hand to her mouth and with a knowing nod of the head, whispered, “He’s a White”, as though being White was a debilitating medical condition that explained everything.

The truth is most Whites are charismatic, intelligent, inventive, good listeners, great providers, and can be quite sociable in a quiet sort of way. This young man and his parents have blamed his driving core motive for his unhealthy behaviors and accepted it as his lot in life.

I’m guilty of the same. If my son doesn’t pay his phone bill and the service is disconnected, I say, “Oh, that Yellow,” when the truth is, he was irresponsible and shouldn’t get a pass because of his color…not to mention it isn’t fair to Yellows. By making that statement, I, in essence, classified every Yellow is irresponsible, which just isn’t true.

There is no doubt that every color has potential good and bad attributes and knowing them can be extremely helpful—but not life altering. You mustn’t sit around using the fact that you are a particular color as an excuse for all the shortcomings in your life.

Once you recognize that personality is an innate gift, while character is achieved, Color Code provides you with the tools to do something about the bad and create something pretty remarkable with the good. Remember, you are 100% responsible for your personal actions and relationships.

Throw away the crutch and start living the life you really want to live.  CC


Teresa Glenn has been working with the Color Code since 2006, where her main focus is product development. She has been in the publishing and product development field for over 20 years. Teresa is a core Red with a strong Yellow secondary.