Expert parenting educator, Margaret Loftus, sheds some light on the various parenting personalities using the principles of the Enneagram, which is used to identify personal strengths, values, patterns of attention and resistance to change.
As parents, it is crucial to the flourishing of our children that we have a good understanding of our own personality and the ways our behaviours and reactions positively and negatively affect our children. With greater awareness comes greater flexibility and more choice as we respond to the challenges of parenting.
The Enneagram maps nine basic personality types, their patterns of thinking, feeling and behaving, and the relationships between them.
We each have a little of every Enneagram type within us but one type is usually dominant. The personality associated with each type has its own pattern of thinking, feeling and behaving that arises from an inherent, deep, inner motivation or world view.
The following is an outline of each of the nine types.
Type One: The perfectionist and the organiser
The principled, idealistic type. Ones are ethical and conscientious, with a strong sense of right and wrong. They are teachers and crusaders, always striving to improve things but afraid of making a mistake. Well organised, orderly, and sometimes fastidious, Ones try to maintain high standards but can slip into being critical and perfectionist.
Type Two: The helper and the giver
The caring, supportive type, Twos are empathetic, sincere and warm hearted. They are friendly, generous and self-sacrificing, but they can also be sentimental, flattering and people pleasing. They are driven to be close to others, and they often do things for others in order to be needed.
Type Three: The achiever and the motivator
The adaptable, success-oriented type. Threes are self-assured, attractive and charming. Ambitious, competent and energetic, they can also be status conscious and highly driven for personal advancement. Threes are often concerned about their image and what others think of them.
Type Four: The creative and the individualist
The expressive, introspective type. Fours are self-aware, sensitive, reserved and quiet. They are self-revealing, emotionally honest and personal, but they can also be moody and self-conscious. Withholding themselves from others due to feeling vulnerable and defective, they can also feel disdainful and exempt from ordinary ways of living.
Type Five: The observer and the investigator
The objective, cerebral type. Fives are intense, alert, insightful and curious. They are able to concentrate and focus on developing complex ideas and skills. Independent and innovative, they can become preoccupied with their thoughts and imaginary constructs. They then become detached, yet highly strung and intense.
Type Six: The questioner and the loyalist
The committed, safety-conscious type. Sixes are reliable, hardworking and responsible, but they can also be defensive, evasive and highly anxious – running on stress while complaining about it. They are often cautious and indecisive but can also be reactive, defiant and rebellious.
Type Seven: The enthusiast and the epicure
The busy, productive type. Sevens are versatile, optimistic and spontaneous. Playful, high-spirited and practical, they can also be overextended, scattered and undisciplined. They constantly seek new and exciting experiences, but they can become distracted and exhausted by staying on the go.
Type Eight: The asserter and the protector
The powerful, dominating type. Eights are self-confident, strong and assertive. Protective, resourceful and decisive, they can also be proud and domineering. Eights feel that they must control their environment, often becoming confrontational and intimidating.
Type Nine: The accommodator and the peacemaker
The easy going, unassuming type. Nines are diplomatic, accepting, trusting and stable. They are good natured, kind hearted and supportive but can also be too willing to go along with others to keep the peace. They want everything to be without conflict, but can tend to be complacent and minimise anything upsetting.