Whenever my son Taylor had a big school project due, I knew we were in for a tug-of-war. While I waved post-it notes and enthusiastically explained how to break the assignment down into bite-sized chunks, his blank stare told me my “can-do” attitude was not part of his process.
Instead, he would quietly close himself in his room for days while I worried he was doing nothing toward meeting the deadline. My offers to help and questions about his progress were met with monosyllables that did little to calm my fear that he wasn’t applying himself. Or worse, that I had failed to teach him the fundamentals of responsibility, diligence, and hard work.
Then he’d pull it off. Not just completing the bare bones of the assignment but often earning a teacher’s comment of “great work!” alongside a grade of A or B. Taylor would beam with pride while I scratched my head and wondered, “How is this possible?”
The Enneagram makes parenting less puzzling.
The Enneagram is an assessment tool that identifies nine distinct personality types based on internal motivation and how we relate to others. When viewed through a biblical lens, it gives valuable insight into how God created each of us uniquely. It helps explain why even within the same family, the ways we behave, communicate, and tackle life (and big projects) might differ wildly.
Knowing your Enneagram type makes parenting less puzzling by providing insight into why you do the things you do. It can make you a better parent by helping you understand your parenting style, strengths and challenges. Best of all, it can help you nurture and grow your child’s unique and God-given personality – which is probably different from your own.
How does knowing your Enneagram type supercharge your parenting?
Our Enneagram type influences how we see our kids. It colors our experiences and what we believe to be true about them. That’s because each type has preferences that bias us toward certain behaviors, habits and ways of seeing and responding to the world. Preferences that we’d like our kids to share.
Knowing your Enneagram type helps you recognize those biases and gives you the power to respond rather than react when your kid’s behaviors and choices differ from your own. It helps explain why sometimes there’s a disconnect in your communication. It allows you to step back, try to see things from your child’s perspective, and then try different, more effective ways to connect.
Parenting by the numbers.
Putting this powerful tool to work starts with discovering your own Enneagram type. And exploring the parenting strengths and opportunities for growth that come with it.
The following brief descriptions come from The Enneagram Made Easy by Renee Baron and Elizabeth Wagele.
What type of parent are you?
Type 1 – Reformers live life with integrity, honesty and doing the right thing. They embrace structure and rules, giving kids a strong sense of security and responsibility. They may struggle with black-and-white thinking and sometimes have overly high expectations of their kids.
Type 2 – Helpers need to feel loved and valued. Their gift for emotional connection makes them highly empathetic parents who pour out support and positive reinforcement. They may help too much and have a hard time stepping back. Even when it’s time for kids to do things independently.
Type 3 – Achievers strive to be productive and successful. They serve as great role models for self-confidence and work ethic, and they help kids see their potential and accomplish goals. These parents struggle to balance wanting to spend time with their kids and their desire to get more work done. They may also put undue pressure on kids to succeed.
Type 4 – Romantics want meaningful experiences and to fully express their feelings. They value authenticity and encourage kids to become their unique and special selves. Their challenge is helping kids manage big emotions without getting overwhelmed and remembering that sometimes it’s okay for kids to want to fit in.
Type 5 – Observers value knowledge and work to understand everything necessary to be self-sufficient and prepared for any situation. Their love for researching, learning, and teaching is a great match for a child’s curiosity. Their challenge is to balance the intellectual growth they love with the emotional growth kids also need.
Type 6 – Questioners need security. These are diligent and dependable parents who make sure kids feel safe and supported. Because they sometimes struggle with excessive worry, they can be overly protective or reluctant to let kids take necessary risks.
Type 7 – Enthusiasts desire to be happy and avoid pain and suffering. Their optimism and enthusiasm inspire kids to dream big and welcome adventure. However, they may find dealing with mundane parts of life – like sticking to routines – challenging and sometimes get too busy with their activities to be fully present and attentive.
Type 8 – Challengers are self-reliant and strong. They encourage kids to grow into courageous leaders and aren’t afraid to let them try and fail. Their strength and energy can sometimes feel demanding or rigid. Especially when kids need to balance strength and resilience with rest and emotional connection.
Type 9 – Peacemakers live for harmony and avoid conflict. Their warmth and acceptance make children feel loved just as they are. They may have a hard time saying no or following through with consequences. Their challenge is to stay engaged even when it requires conflict resolution.
You can find out more about the nine Enneagram types, plus take a free faith-based assessment to help you identify yours at yourenneagramcoach.com.
Grow stronger bonds with the Enneagram.
Adding the Enneagram to your parenting toolbox helps to eliminate stress, disagreements, and misunderstandings. It creates stronger bonds by deepening respect for differences between you and your children. Above all, it helps parents grow kids into the people God designed them to be. Instead of striving to mold them into mini-mes.
Gaining a better understanding of our differences helped me see that my son wasn’t procrastinating or irresponsible. Instead, my own Type 3 – Achiever style of creating a dazzling presentation first and worrying about the content later didn’t line up with Taylor’s desire to study and master the material before completing the assignment. (A clue that he may be a Type 5 – Observer.)
This discovery changed our relationship and how we communicate. I learned that respecting his approach – and putting away my post-it notes – was the parenting superpower Taylor needed most from me.
Don’t miss my related article on how to identify Enneagram styles in children and what each type needs from parents to thrive.