What's Your Type? The Enneagram for Parents

nine personality types on blackboard

The Enneagram is a robust system of personality, self-awareness and personal growth. As parents, we are challenged daily to grow ourselves into our best selves so as to meet the developing needs of our children in a peaceful and loving manner. The Enneagram can offer a path out of ineffective parenting patterns such as reacting to children with shortness, yelling and using punishments.  Once you identify your core personality type, it can be studied, practiced and incorporated into one’s behaviors to show up for our children and the rest of our lives with more grace and effectiveness. The Enneagram is different from more commonly known personality typing tools, like the Meyer’s Briggs, because it provides more than a static snapshot or box that people fit into in terms of their tendencies and behaviors.

The Enneagram is an ancient personality system which aims to capture the 9 personality types present in the human family. The types include The Reformer (1), The Giver (2), The Achiever (3), The Individualist (4), The Investigator (5), The Loyalist (6), The Enthusiast (7), The Challenger (8) and The Peacemaker (9). The names of the personality types come from the ways in which each type attempts to make its mark on the world, and respond to its need for love and recognition. Each type behaves in specific ways to gain approval and earn the love that we all seek as human beings, starting from a young age.

In addition to providing a current view of how a person is behaving, the Enneagram system is built upon the idea that personalities, and people, evolve over time. The more a person knows about him/herself and his/her behaviors, takes conscious action to untangle misconceived ideas about love and belonging, and becomes fully self-accepting, self-realized and effective in the world, the more each type evolves to become their highest self.

I came across the Enneagram many years ago when I was having challenges in a relationship and at work, with people who often seemed to speak a different language than I did in their behaviors and assumptions.

At that time, my father had just passed away and I had just begun the arduous journey of becoming an inner city public high school teacher. I was under stress and was typed as an Enneagram 8 — the Challenger. I was focused on being in charge of projects, often with strong, dominating energy to get the job done.  This was how I needed to be to be a successful teacher, so I thought, and it "worked" in terms of helping me to feel confident and effective at that point of my life.

I came to realize when I began my coaching program two years ago, that I had been mis-typed. Each Enneagram personality not only has a type that we evolve to, but also a type that we go to under stress. I am actually an Enneagram Type 2, the Giver. The Giver is most concerned with, well, giving to others.  There is a genuine desire to be helpful.  There has also been a learned habit to tend to the needs of others in order to feel loved.  The work of the 2 is to decipher between this pattern of giving in order to feel worthy and lovable versus taking the time to love oneself, to make time for one self, to fill one's own cup through appropriate self love, and then to support and help others from this abundant place.  It is freeing for a 2 to have permission to take time for oneself, to put one's self first and to arrest the pattern of putting everyone else's needs ahead of one's own in order to feel loved.  Most 2's eventually reach burn out from this pattern.  Starting with the self, really taking the time and space to attend to one's self first is like learning a new language for a 2.  Over time, it becomes second nature and a 2 learns that he/she was lovable all along, just for being, not because he or she became indispensable through strings-attached giving.  Free at last, free at last, thank God almighty, free at last...!

All personality types have wonderful qualities, but they also have patterns which can create problems, especially around self-criticism and perfectionism.

It is my self-development work to evolve to a Type 4, The Individualist, to overcome my patterns and assumptions about people and how to go about gaining love. In fact, when one evolves to their highest self/type using the Enneagram system as a tool, life no longer is about approval and seeking love from the outside, but rather about being true to oneself, living from a place of deep authenticity, integration, peace and flow.

It can also be enlightening to understand the Enneagram types of your spouse and your kids as well as people you interact and collaborate with on a regular basis at work, in the community, etc.  Once you know what another person's type is, typical communication patterns and styles of work can be better understood and people can tailor their interactions to be most effective.

Call me today for a free 30 minute You Can Be the Parent You Want to Be Breakthrough Session!  We'll discuss your ideal vision for parenting and personal growth and I can provide you with a free Enneagram assessment to get started uncovering old patterns and developing yourself into the best you can be, today.