In the many years which I have worked in early childhood, I have given many parenting advices to both clients and friends as an educator. It was not until when I became a parent of a 2-year-old toddler and more importantly, a 12-year-old pre-teen boy, that I discovered no matter how many books I have read, there is no real preparation for parenthood. It was until I discovered the magic of Enneagram through a personality workshop that it dawned on me like an epiphany, understanding our personality make up and how to synchronise it to the personality of our child will most definitely determine whether the parenting journey will be a stormy or one of effortless serene.
Before we can begin to understand our child, we must first and foremost understand a little something about ourselves, and that little something is called our personality. Have a look below, which picture do you identify yourself with the most?
Let’s say for example you are the “helper” otherwise known as Type 2 personality, your child will enjoy being under the wing of your warmth and encouragement. You listen well to their problems and are highly involved in play and interaction, for you are an extremely supportive parent. However, for certain types of children, they may feel smothered by your need to remain in constant contact and your need to be protective can feel overbearing. So, it may be worthwhile to consider letting the reigns go so that your child can establish independence, while still being there to pick up the pieces should things go pear-shaped.
Alternatively, the “achiever” as parents, are busy and well organised and goal orientated. They encourage their family members and push them forward. You are your child’s champion and cheerleader. What you give your child is the belief that with hard work anything is possible. Your child will experience a wide range of talent enhancing activities. For some children under the wings of “Achiever” parents they will thrive under the pressure and achievement. But there is also a possibility that your child may find your energy and schedule exhausting and feel they have failed in some ways for not living up to your expectations.
What these two examples highlight is the importance of how knowing not only our personality type but more importantly our child’s personality will help to better prepare us as parents to enhance the relationship we will have with our children so that we can motivate them to reach their fullest potential for them to carve out a successful life path which is uniquely their own.
So coming back to me, my personality type is the individualist. I love to talk and express myself, I like to get to the bottom of things so I expect my children to share their inner most thoughts whether good or bad. I expect my children to experiment and explore with life, ride with the high and low and live life to the fullest. However, unlike me, my foster child is a peacemaker. Like a typical peacemaker, he is happy to comply to all instructions whether he is happy or not. He does not retaliate and challenge my requests, and for this, our first six months together had been stormy. For I wanted him to understand his purpose in his decision, I wanted him to throw himself into life and experience the full emotions of what it is to live. He on the other hand is happy to get through the day, and has found my expectations quite intimidating. As I become more aware of his personality type and what makes him happy or motivated and at the same my own personality traits, allowed us to rebuild our relationship again. It allowed me to reflect on the expectations I have of him and pace myself to allow him to digest and also embrace the differences in our personalities.
By: Mimi Ong