Forget the terms “Dolphin Mom,” “Tiger Mother” or “Helicopter Parent.” I recommend a different way of understanding your parenting approach. One that is tied to your overall personality type (and proven by more rigorous scientific research).
While each person is unique, typologies can still be helpful to giving us broad brushstrokes on understanding how different people operate and how they get their needs met. Our "personality priorities" also determine how we relate to our environment, handle challenges in life and the motivation behind our actions.
If you haven’t figured it out by now, having children is one of life’s lovely challenges. How do you respond when life delivers you a baby who is colicky and won’t sleep for more than an hour at time? What is your reaction to a kid who refuses to put on their coat and their pig headedness is making you late for a client meeting? Do you like the clutter and fingerprints inherent to having a child in the house? Noise? Chaos? Maybe you are okay with happy energy but can’t stand the clingy and whiney kid?
Let’s have a look at the four personality priorities developed out of Adlerian theory and see how it impacts our parenting in positive ways. You will likely see yourself in more than one of these categories. Our strongest priority is the one that we most notice in times of stress and when our backs are to the wall in a crisis. The lesser priority is how we operate our day to day life.
Remember: there is no better or worse way to be a human. Simple awareness and an appreciation of our differences will help us get along with our children and partners better.
Your concern is to do things that are important and have meaning. Being insignificant is your big fear. You want to leave a legacy and make your mark in this life. You value doing things competently and with best practices and highest standards.
How great for your kids! You will model excellence and ambition. You will value achievement and your children will likely adopt these values.
This personality priority can be three types: a need to be in control of yourself, others and situations. Your worst fear is of the unexpected and to be criticized or humiliated.
You are likely a wonderful leader and organizer. You follow rules well and are productive and persistent at all your tasks. This assertiveness helps you get the job done!
Your lucky kids will benefit from having your systems that keeps the home running to deadline. I bet your children will learn from your organizational skills and seek to be leaders themselves. They will probably adopt a respect for order, authority and the law. You model excellent time-management skills, which will likely be passed on.
You are easy-going, roll with the punches and make few demands on your family. Your kids feel safe around you because you are mellow and predictable. As a peacemaker, you keep conflict in the home to a minimum. The worse fear for a comfort-seeking personality is pain and stress. You loathe expectations being put on you from others or feeling cornered.
Your children will learn the benefits of being laid back and the merit of diplomacy. They will enjoy the simple pleasures of life.
You are friendly, considerate and can easily compromise to get along with others. You like to please others to get their approval. This means rejection or abandonment are your worse nightmares. You are very helpful to your children and you will teach them to be kind and considerate. You champion the underdog and love to volunteer.
What a wonderful thing to model to your children! Chances are they will adopt your non-aggressive, peacemaking approaches.
Next week, we will look at the parenting pitfalls of these personality styles that we should try to avoid.