Ned Mahoney's Blog
As most parents know, parenting isn’t for the faint of heart. It takes courage, energy, and lots of patience to corral everyone into order so that things don’t get left behind. But when your personality type is completely opposite of that of your children or is in conflict with theirs, how do you do it and stay sane?
Do it by the book, or not!
If you’re the type that has everything planned ahead, organized, lined up, listed, categorized, and filed, you may find parenting a free-spirited butterfly somewhat frustrating. Truthfully, if you think you can do it all by the book, you’ll be very disappointed. Sometimes, you have to take it a day at a time.
So, your books, files, records, lists, and organization can be a framework but don’t expect everything to fall in line, and then you won’t be disappointed. When parenting expectations fall short, the parents’ frustration spills over onto the children and causes them to feel insecure.
Flying by the seat...
On the other end of the spectrum, parents that are reactive rather than responsive also contribute to a child’s insecurity. This feeling can be especially true for children that are thinkers or planners themselves. Some children thrive in routine because they know what to expect next and aren’t upended by surprises. Parents that don’t understand this need or organization might think their children are acting out when instead they are expressing their uncertainty with not knowing what to expect.
If you know your child has scheduled expectations, you can prepare them for changes with a prearranged code word or mantra to help them navigate the change secure in the knowledge that you’ve developed them for just such an event.
The 16 personality types identified by Katharine Briggs and Isabel Myers, known commonly as the Myers-Briggs Personality Types, can help parents discover their children’s preferred thinking and behavior attributes. Each type is a mixture of four pairs that designate opposite ends of the spectrum. For example, is your child Introverted or Extraverted? Are they stronger in the area of Sensing or iNtuiting? Do they approach decision-making with Thinking or Feeling? When confronted with schedules, are they Judging or Perceiving?
Given these combinations, the 16 types are:
INTJ - INFJ - INTP - INFP - ENTJ - ENTP - ENFJ - ENFP - ISFJ - ISFP - ISTJ - ISTP - ESFP - ESTJ - ESTP - ESFJ
If you find yourself frustrated with trying to understand your children, take a few moments to learn your own personality type and those of your children. Just knowing where their responses come from gives you the basis to learn better ways of steering the whole family toward understanding each person’s preferences and motivations so that you can discover the commonalities that will move family life forward.
For more information on the Myers-Briggs personality tests, check out sites where you can learn and test yourself. If family life continues to frustrate you, seek help from a school counselor, social worker, or religious advisor.