Saturday, May 15, 2010

Your Type, Your Parenting Style

Myers-Briggs and Family Dynamics

Your ideas about parenting – what it should be and what it shouldn’t be – began forming when you were a child. A cherished moment with your dad that you looked forward to having with your own son some day, or the teenage declaration of “when I have kids, I’m never doing that,” there were elements of your mom & dad’s parenting that “fit” your expectations and style and some that did not.

Surely not an issue of “good parenting” versus “bad parenting” or of being a “good child” or a “bad child,” many of these style compatibilities and differences are due to your personality “Type” similarities or differences. And for any one who has two or more children, you already know, what may be the perfect approach for one child, will inevitably be the absolute wrong approach for the other child.

How can that be? They were raised in the same home with the same parents, with the same values and teachings, yet they are so very different from each other.

Or perhaps you find one of your children a breeze to parent (the one your spouse is frequently frustrated by?) and the other child, is just a struggle to get through to (yet your spouse gets along with that child fine.) The answer will most likely come down to Type – your personality preferences as defined by the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (or MBTI) – starting first with yours, as a parent, but also in the type of your child if you are able to discern it.

Most of us have fantasized that the best relationships are effortless. Whether it be happily-ever-after marriages, friendships that transcend time and space, or a bond between parent and child that supersedes the need to work at it. We'd all like to believe that our most intimate relationships are unconditional, and strong enough to endure any challenge, but the reality that all good relationships require effort.

Somewhere along the line we’re told this about marriage, and although we resist the idea that it actually applies to our marriage, eventually we figure out that marriage is actually work. What’s interesting is that we don’t naturally transfer that recognition of “good relationships are hard work” to our parent/child relationships.

For some, there is an inherent expectation that the parent will be a respected authority and the child will be compliant and obedient. That may work if both parent and child are Sensor/Judgers (SJ temperament) who have a natural bent for traditional roles, authority, obedience, loyalty, duty, etc. but SJs only make up 38% of the population (with even lower odds that both will be SJs), leaving a vast majority of parent’s and children with a natural bent for miscommunication, misunderstandings and conflict.

Although different relationships have very different characteristics and specific needs, there are two basic areas which seem to be critical to the success of all relationships: Expectations and Communication.

What do we expect from ourselves and the other person involved in the relationship? How do we communicate these expectations, and our feelings and opinions to the person in the relationship? And (most importantly) how does our personality Type affect our expectations and methods of communication?

As a parent, knowing your own Type is a good start, but having a knowledge and understanding of the personality preferences of the other people in the home can substantially improve communication, level-set expectations and reduce conflict (see Parenting Pyramid).

For more information about Type and the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, visit the Myers-Briggs (MBTI) Resource Central.

“Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord. Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged.” - Colossians 3:20-21

For more information about Type and the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, visit the Myers-Briggs (MBTI) Resource Central.

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