The Shift Network Blog

Understand Your Parenting Personality with the Enneagram
Tracy Tresidder
By Tracy Tresidder

Being a parent is one of the most challenging, interesting, stressful and rewarding roles we will ever take on... 

It’s one of the toughest jobs we’ll do and we set extremely high expectations for ourselves on how we perform in the role.

To thrive as effective parents in this world, we need to be able to question our own parenting style in ways that go much deeper than simple questions like “Was I too strict?” or “Am I too easy on him?”

We need to be able to get beyond simply comparing ourselves to others. Raising resourceful families in an ever-changing world requires us to have new skills and knowledge and high self-awareness.

As parents, it is crucial to the flourishing of our children that each of us has a good understanding of our own personality and of the ways in which our behaviours and reactions positively and negatively affect our children.

With greater awareness comes greater flexibility and more choice as we respond to the challenges of parenting.

Knowing your Enneagram Type will help you discover how your personality motivates the way you behave as a parent and how your child’s personality interacts with your own.

You will discover how to recognize your greatest parenting strengths and weaknesses and how to free yourself to become a true guide and coach to your child.

Parents can provide an emotionally healthy childhood and the foundations for their children to flourish. Discovering the differences between your type and your child's can be an incredibly enlightening and useful experience.

Unfortunately, many parents have very little understanding of their own personality. They have little awareness of their habitual behaviours and the way these behaviours affect others, especially their children. I encourage you to read Knowing Me Knowing Them: Understand Your Parenting Personality by Discovering Your Enneagram Type, to learn tips and strategies for your own and child's growth. Following is a brief example of the 9 Parenting Personalities:

  • Type One parents are seeking a perfect world. They work diligently to improve themselves and teach their children responsibility and strong moral values. On the negative side, Ones can become highly critical and judgemental of themselves and others.

  • Type Two parents are very warm and encouraging; they listen well and are playful. At times, however, they can become overly concerned, worrying too much about everyone else’s needs.

  • Type Three parents are busy and organised. They encourage their family members to be goal orientated and active. On the negative side, they can become over-controlling and impatient, putting too much focus on achievement.

  • Type Four parents want a unique connection with their children. They are warm and compassionate and encourage their children to get in touch with their feelings. However, their focus of attention can easily go to what is missing in their lives and they can become melancholy and sad.

  • Type Five parents can be kind, perceptive, devoted and knowledgeable. They can also find it difficult to relate on an emotional level and may withdraw to have some quiet adult time.

  • Type Six parents can show up in two different ways. They can be very loving and devoted to their children, with a strong sense of loyalty and humour. However, some Sixes are constantly scanning for danger, fearing the worst-case scenario, which can develop anxiety in their children. Others confront their fears and can become overly assertive, which can overwhelm their children. Both these characteristics can appear in the same person.

  • Type Seven parents are full of energy and optimism for their family. They seek out fun things for their children to do; they enjoy being happy and playing. However, when this upbeat energy is overplayed the Seven parent can be overwhelming to their children, leaving them feeling neither seen nor heard.

  • Type Eight parents are the strong protectors of their children. They are loyal, caring, involved and devoted. However, their intensity can also be overbearing for their family.

  • Type Nine parents are good listeners and mediators and can merge into the world of their children. They are easy going and flexible, but can also be stubborn and overly permissive with their children.

It is worth remembering that your first task here is to build your own self-awareness and inner knowing by trying on a new way of being to support the flourishing of your children.  It is about what you are doing "with" yourself and your children — not what you are doing "to" your children.