When we know who we are – when we can operate in our strengths – then I do believe that we can be parenting from the inside out.
Parenting is messy. Parenting can be hard. There are so many voices that tell you what you should be doing, etc. and sadly there are too many voices of shame out there.
WHAT TO EXPECT
When you are expecting your first child you go through classes, read books, and start establishing what your parenting will look like. Then the baby comes along and it seems like none of that is working. Or was that just me? I found myself questioning what type of parent I was and many of my “ideals” went out the window. Some things didn’t change but some were quite radical changes.
I always thought I would thrive on a schedule with the girls – because I had always been a schedule person – but we struggled and when we went to more feed on demand, sleep within a rough window, etc. then we were all happier.
When it came to education I threw a planned day out the window and went with unschooling – and we are all happier!
And these two things are sort of funny in that I know my enneagram type and this goes against the type.
PARENTING FROM THE INSIDE OUT
When I went through postpartum depression I went through a real questioning phase as to who I was as a parent. I also went through some soul searching as to who I was. I have always enjoyed knowing who I am – how I think, how I work with or related to others.
Things I know about myself: I am an introvert, INTJ, equally high D and C in the DISC, I know my top 5 strengths and I am a 1w9 on the enneagram. What does this say about me? A LOT! What does it say about my parenting? A lot! I have found that truly knowing myself has really helped me as a parent, to know how to communicate and to deal with my emotions as I help 2 little girls know themselves and their emotions and how to communicate them.
This test shows us how people interpret the world and manage their emotions. The goal of the Enneagram is to give people a comprehensive look at their strengths and weaknesses and assess the motives for their behavior.
At first I wasn’t sure about the enneagram, as people were saying “just look at the characteristics and you will know”. By doing this I actually mistyped myself. By spending time with a friend, who is a life coach and trained in enneagram, and her asking some very insightful questions, we found that I was not a 5 as I thought, or even a 3, but in fact a 1. But looking at what I know of 1s, especially 1w9, it is totally me.
How can this help us as parents? I am not an expert by any means – I really only know the basics, but these questions can help us as parents as we are giving so much of ourselves to our children, to our families:
- Motives – What are our motives?
- Drain – What is draining us?
- Energy – What would energize us?
- Value – How can I feel heard and valued?
When we can answer these, then we know where we can put our energy and where we might need help. This will ultimately help us with our children.
When it comes to personality type, Myers Briggs 16 types is probably the most popular to know, or there is the 4 types: sanguine, melancholic, choleric, phlegmatic. I found knowing my Myers Briggs type helped me in communicating, in understanding why I needed communication and expectations to me in a certain way, and in understanding my way of thinking.
How can I parent a child of a different personality type? This is an interesting question, especially as it is difficult to peg a child into a category at a young age. But it is worth knowing how you deal with things to help avoid triggers, etc.
Here is a tool you could go through if you are interested.
Values are very important in parenting since they deeply influence all behaviors and attitudes and affect our decisions and relationships.
Each family is going to have their own set of values. There really isn’t a set of values that we all just follow. We can pick and choose. I know that my family has some values that others won’t, and vice versa. And this is all totally ok.
Here are some of our family values:
HOW CAN WE KNOW OURSELVES?
Do the tests.
Spend some time doing the personality tests and reading the information about each type. Get to know how you operate in this personality type, enneagram or whatever it is you are pursuing.
Find yourself a life coach and talk through motivations, desires, struggles, etc. Allow someone on the outside to help you with tools you might need. Life coaching can be so beneficial and we can all benefit from time to time.
If it is specifically parenting you might need assistance with, a parenting coach can help you look at what might work for you and your children – to help support your family goals.
When we know ourselves then I do believe that we will be better parents.
BEST ADVICE FOR NEW PARENTS
This is my advice for new parents – do what works for you! Of course you should read books and get stories and ideas from other parents, but honestly, you will change your ideas as you try new things. If it doesn’t work for you – change it!