Enneagram Parenting Styles
Most of us parents try to be the very best parents we can be given the tools we have. There are different ways to parent and some may work better for some children than others. There is no one type that makes the perfect parent. But, the more emotionally healthy we are, no matter what type, the better our parenting skills will be.
You may see aspects of yourself in a few of these types, (taken from the Enneagram). That is the way the system works, as we integrate to certain types and disintegrate to others. None of these descriptions are meant as a judgement, but rather as bringing awareness to the different parental styles of parenting, all of which have their strengths and weaknesses – there is no ideal as such. All types inevitably do their best to be the best parents they can be, each in their own unique way.
Type 1 – The Perfectionist
Do you find yourself getting annoyed when toys aren’t put back in the toy box, a room isn’t tidied or when your child arrives back from school covered in mud? Find yourself getting angry with other parents who don’t seem to have the same disciplinary concerns? Type 1 parents are perfectionists and have a firm belief that there are certain ways things should be done and they expect their children to adhere to these rules/principals.
What you give your child: As a Type 1 parent you give your child firm, secure boundaries with a sense of responsibility. You are both consistent and fair. You also instil a sense of what is right and wrong. “Tell the truth above all else”, my Type 1 mum used to tell me, and it’s stood me in good stead.
Enhancing your type: Sometimes you could look at relaxing a bit and allowing your child to see your fun side (which is there). Whilst tidiness may be necessary, spontaneity and fun play can be more important. Also realise (and this can be hard), that there may be more than one ‘right’ way: – what’s right for you may not be right for another person. Try also to talk to your child and not fall into the habit of preaching.
Type 2 – The Helper
These parents are warm, affectionate and caring. Extra treats in lunch boxes, loving sms’s sent throughout the day or constant calls, (even when the ‘child’ is 30), baking cakes for the school bring and buy – nothing is too much trouble for the Two parent who just wants to help.
What you give your child: Your child feels loved and nurtured. Your empathy allows them to feel heard (you’re a good listener) and as a result feel valued. You can easily be persuaded to play along with a child’s activity.
Enhancing your type: Sometimes this love, particularly for certain types of children, can feel smothering and your need to remain in constant contact and be protective can feel overbearing. So it may be of value to let the reigns go (age appropriately) so your child can establish independence, while still being there to pick up the pieces should things go pear-shaped.
Type 3 – The Achiever
Type 3 parents are optimistic and goal-orientated, so naturally they put much emphasis on success when it comes to raising children. They’ll be shouting at the side of the race track as their five year old storms across the finish line, sending their seven year old to extra tennis, violin and a whole host of other activities, all in the name of wanting their children to succeed in life. Read the book Tiger Mother? Then this is her, wanting achievement (often where she/he feels he may have failed). Type 3’s are hard workers, so chances are time with the kids will be diarised between meetings.
What you give your child: The belief that with hard work anything is possible. They will also experience a wide range of talent enhancing activities and just as much as you throw yourself into any new task, so too will you give parenting your all. They will experience you as both consistent and dependable. You also demonstrate good organisational skills and deep-rooted responsibility.
Enhancing your type: Some children may enjoy the pressure and achievement. Others will find your energy and schedule exhausting and feel they have failed in some way for not living up to your expectations. Sometimes it could be great for both of you to let go doing and relax into just being.
Type 4 – The Individualist
This parent will inspire creativity in their kids – music, art, cooking – whatever form of self-expression inspires. At times melancholic, or sentimental, this parent can also be upbeat and fun. They feel and care deeply and are affectionate and insightful, helping their children get in touch with their feelings. They probably don’t enjoy socialising in big groups, so mums and tots mornings may not work for them – they’d prefer doing some one-on-one activity with their child.
What they give their child: A love of all things artistic and the desire to explore creativity. They can be supportive and encourage their child’s uniqueness. They are not afraid of alternative thinking and ways of being in their children and are often good role-models when it comes to being true to oneself.
Enhancing your type: Sometimes their moodiness or even depression may worry a child who may feel somehow responsible, so a reassuring word could be of huge value when you are feeling down. Use your natural intuitive ability to tune into where your child is at.
Type 5 – The Investigator/Thinker
Type 5’s are a much more cerebral type of personality than the feeling 4. “Knowledge is Power,” would be the motto they would seek to instil in their children. Always busy on a project or researching one, they like to feel capable, yet are less inclined to socialise, seeing it for the most part as being a waste of time. But, if a child asks how atoms are formed for instance, the ‘5’ will be patient and happy to answer (probably in quite a lot of detail!) They are kind, but that still doesn’t make them able to cope with a child’s neediness or emotional outbursts. If a child is very emotional, they could experience this parent as being withdrawn.
What they give their child: A broad field of knowledge – from bird-watching, to gaming, celestial study or even an insight into the esoteric, this parent loves passing on information. The Naked Scientist is a good example. Babies are time con-summing, time that a ‘5’ values dearly for researching etc. As a result, they may find themselves communicating better with older children who may share a common interest.
Enhancing your type: Recognise that being authoritarian to a two-year old won’t work, so rather engage with the perceptive kindness that is who you are. Admire your child’s ability to retain data and intellectual prowess (but make sure its age appropriate).
Type 6 – The Loyalist
As their name suggests 6’s are loyal, dutiful and make compassionate, nurturing parents – able to view things from the child’s as well as their own point of view. They may find it hard to establish firm boundaries with their children. In worrying about possible potential for their children getting hurt they can make it hard for a child to gain independence. “Careful not to go too deep, climb too high, go too far etc.”, is the repeated warning of a worrying ‘6’ parent (even to the point of paranoia). They can at times be real rebels (in the nicest way!)
What they give their child: They are dependable, hard-working and responsible parents. They can be warm and engaging and very funny and are often natural home-makers. In spite of their fears, they can demonstrate huge inspirational courage.
Enhancing your type: Whilst the limits the ‘6’ sets may seem reasonable to them, outgoing, adventurous children might experience their parent’s constant fears as being limiting, giving a child the view that the world (or the people in it) are not to be trusted. Try building a sense of trust within yourself and let go of the need to constantly fear the worst that could happen.
Type 7 – The Enthusiast
With a type ‘7’ parent, a child is in for an exciting (albeit exhausting) ride. Climbing Kilimanjaro one day and bungee jumping the next. The ‘7’ parent is abuzz with ideas for things to do and are often generous to a fault. They love planning exciting events and keep up a relentless, pace. They are seldom if ever down and bring enthusiasm to all they do and love. Your child may experience that the parent is unavailable much of the time, being caught up in some new adventurous business or pursuit.
What they give their child: They are great story tellers – the H. Rider Haggard’s of the world and will keep kids entranced with their often fantastical tales. The Peter Pan’s of the world they seldom seem to age and as such can often relate well to children. They will encourage and inspire risk-taking as a way to rewards!
Enhancing your type: What ‘7’ parents don’t always understand is that some children enjoy feeling settled in one place and experience the frenetic activity as exhausting. All this activity may make ‘7’ parents less interested in the more mundane aspects of life such as homework supervision, cooking etc. So combine activity with some quieter time to get a better balance between being and doing.
Type 8 – The Boss/Challenger
The powerful ‘Boss’ parent speaks straight and expects the same of his/her offspring. “Survival of the fittest,” is the motto they want to instil. They are often big-hearted and demonstrative. They want their children to be tough in the face of challenges and relentlessly pursue their desires. They often have sudden outbursts of anger which are quickly forgotten by themselves, but not always by others – a “my way or the highway” type of parenting. As a result, some children may experience ‘8’s as dominating and angry. ‘8’ parents may see sensitivity in a child as a weakness, rather than a potential strength.
What they give their child: A fiercely protective presence making a child feel safe from the world. Like large bears they seek to destroy all threats to themselves and those they love. They adore their children and will do much to help them succeed in the world.
Enhancing your type: Be aware that sometimes you may be inclined to see your children as extensions of yourselves rather than being individuals with their own desires. Sometimes the very largeness of your personality may unwittingly scare and intimidate your children. Allow your child the space to voice their feelings, without the need to challenge or control them.
Type 9 – The Peacemaker
These parents are mostly laid-back with a laissez-faire attitude to life.
They are gentle, often creative and warm people with a wry sense of humour. Discipline may be something they would rather avoid, leaving it to the other partner. If they perceive their partner as not helping, they can become stubborn and withdrawn. They can meander in their conversations and be indecisive. They are generally popular and accepting of those around them.
What they give their child: A genuine feeling of being accepted and loved.
Enhancing your type: This desire for peace at all costs may be experienced as avoiding facing any situations or behaviour that needs addressing, making the child feel they lack firm grounding or support. Children do need direction, so adopting a firm stance, albeit difficult, is sometimes necessary. Sometimes ‘9’’s can tune-out to the world around them, being aware of this can bring your focus back onto those you love.