Motherhood and The Enneagram: Parenting Tips by Type
by Lauren FlakeArtist. Author. Alzheimer's daughter.
Personality tests have been all the rage for the past few years now. You’ve probably heard about popular tests like the Meyers-Briggs or DiSC, among others. But have you heard of the Enneagram? It has become one of the most popular tests recently and my personal favorite.
I’ve been an Enneagram enthusiast for over two years now, ever since a friend raved about it and introduced me to it. The Enneagram differs from other personality typing systems because it encourages growth and identifies healthy and unhealthy behaviors within each of the nine types.
Figuring out your Enneagram type is just a matter of taking a test online. You can take the Riso-Hudson Enneagram Type Indicator (RHETI) for $12 or read through The Enneagram Institute’s descriptions of the nine types. There is also a free enneagram type test available through Your Enneagram Coach.
If you’re having trouble narrowing down your type after taking a test or two, take a look at the core fear and core desire of each type to see which combination really resonates with you. This is how I was finally able to narrow down my type. If you’re still not sure, remember that you were probably truest to your type when you were in your twenties.
Knowing your Enneagram type is a lot of fun and can really bring some insight into how you act and react to other types and situations. Learning about yourself in this way is also a really great way to grow (or perhaps change for the better) as a parent. And we all could use good growth and change, right?
Parenting Tips Based on Your Enneagram Type
Once you’ve discovered yours, here’s the parenting advice you probably need to hear based on each Enneagram type:
1 – The Reformer
Ones are usually idealistic, perfectionistic, and self-controlled. They are incredibly organized but not especially flexible.
Parenting Tip: As a parent who is a 1, let go of the relentless pursuit of perfection. Give your kids (and yourself) a whole lot of grace and plenty of space to make mistakes. Remember that we learn best through our failures, not our successes. Be humble and transparent. Always ask your kids for forgiveness when you mess up.
2 – The Helper
Twos are typically generous, possessive, and strive to please others. They consistently take care of everyone else.
Parenting Tip: As a parent who is a 2, be sure to take care of yourself, too. Don’t neglect your own needs in an effort to make your kids and everyone else around you happy. (Because if mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy!) Remember that your family members cannot and will not fill your needs if you never voice them.
3 – The Achiever
Threes are known to be driven, ambitious, and image-conscious. They live for success.
Parenting Tip: As a parent who is a 3, remember that your worth is not based on what you achieve, and neither are your kids’. Be sure to support your children as they follow their own paths. Always give them your personal recognition regardless of how much or how little public recognition they receive in their endeavors. Learn to love your kids (and yourself) for who they are and not for what they accomplish.
Fours tend to be dramatic, sensitive, and temperamental. They are the most emotionally honest of all the enneagram types.
Parenting Tip: As a parent who is a 4, be honest, but don’t overwhelm your kids with your feelings. You are uniquely able to validate your children’s emotions. Be careful not to encourage them to make decisions based solely on those emotions though. Teach your kids that it’s not healthy to withdraw when they’re in pain.
5 – The Investigator
Fives are known to be isolated, secretive, and introverted. They value truth and knowledge above all else.
Parenting Tip: As a parent who is a 5, learn to communicate with your kids on their level. Children often need concrete examples that they can relate to in order to understand abstract concepts. Break big ideas into smaller pieces and big tasks (like cleaning their rooms) into smaller steps that are appropriate for their age.
6 – The Loyalist
Sixes are almost always anxious, suspicious, and responsible. They anticipate potential problems before they happen and try to prevent them. (I know, because I am a 6.)
Parenting Tip: As a parent who is a 6, trust your instincts, but don’t let your fear of something going wrong control your decisions. Don’t smother your kids in an effort to protect them. You won’t always be in charge. Your kids need to be able to make their own age-appropriate decisions without your fears hanging over them. Prepare them for challenges, but don’t scare your children away from taking healthy risks as they grow.
7 – The Enthusiast
Sevens are typically fun-loving, easily distracted, and scattered. They are the risk takers and the life of the party.
Parenting Tip: As a parent who is a 7, be present. Your kids don’t need an endless schedule of activities to keep them busy. (In fact, a full itinerary is very difficult for many of the other enneagram types to maintain.) More than any other extracurricular or social activity, your children need you and your undivided attention on a regular basis. Make sure downtime with your kids is a regular part of your weekly schedule.
8 – The Challenger
Eights are usually decisive, aggressive, and confrontational but they seek justice. They enjoy a good argument for the sake of streamlining a decision.
Parenting Tip: As a parent who is an 8, be patient. Your kids don’t always have to agree with you. Like the adults around you, children are entitled to their own differing opinions. Remember that disagreement is not synonymous with disrespect. Teach your kids how to calmly discuss points of contention by treating them with respect and expecting them to treat you with respect in every conversation, heated or not.
9 – The Peacemaker
Nines tend to be optimistic, trusting, and passive. They, quite literally, keep the peace through their ability to see all perspectives.
Parenting Tip: As a parent who is a 9, stop caring about what other people, including your kids, think. It is okay to say “no” to your kids’ demands and to ask for what you need. It’s okay to set boundaries and state your opinions and desires, even when this causes conflict. It’s also okay to rock the boat from time to time. Always be direct when voicing your concerns so that your kids don’t ever have to guess what you mean.
If you want to learn more about the Enneagram, there are a plethora of resources out there to guide you. Discovering more about your personality type, especially as it relates to motherhood, can be an invaluable tool in your parenting journey. Learning more about yourself as an individual will always help you to become the best mama you can be!