How Your MBTI Type Influences The Way You Parent
7 min. read
Becoming a parent is one of the biggest changes — and maybe one of the biggest challenges — that many of us face in our lives, changing how we interact with the world around us as we keep our bundles of joy healthy, fed, and happy. But whatever our intentions and whatever other people think is "good" parenting, how you parent will also be influenced by our Myers-Briggs personality type.
It’s useful to know about and reflect on our own type’s typical style, but also to know a little about the parenting style of our partner, because our children will notice these differences in our behavior and possibly use these differences to get round us. Instead of running around wondering why you do what you do when it comes to your kids, I’ve briefly outlined some positive — and some maybe not so positive — aspects of the typical parenting style of each of the 16 types.
The ISTJ Parent
People with preferences for ISTJ want life to be structured, organized and, to at least some extent, predictable – and that includes their children. They’re likely to have a quite traditional approach to parenting, setting and enforcing clear rules and boundaries, while checking that the kids stick to deadlines around chores and homework. They’ll work hard to be a good parent, try to establish family traditions, and won’t miss school meetings or little league matches. However, when they first become a parent, they may find the sudden changes and initial lack of a fixed routine difficult. Later, they can sometimes try to force their children into more traditional roles and be shocked if a child rebels against this. They may err on the side of being critical rather than showing overt affection.
The ISFJ Parent
ISFJ parents are often very nurturing and caring, going to great lengths to make sure that their children feel loved and cared for. They appreciate structure and see established systems as important...but will be prepared to bend the rules if a child is unhappy or has hurt feelings. Sometimes they may feel guilty about this, blaming themselves for not having done more, and they can feel demoralised if all the hard work they have put into their child’s upbringing is not recognized.
The INFJ Parent
People with INFJ preferences typically have a rich internal life, full of ideas and possibilities, and a caring exterior — many will want their children to benefit from the same gifts. They will dream of what each child could be and try to nurture their individual strengths. They're likely to be very attuned to their child’s emotional needs and try to create a safe environment to support these, and they're likely to show a great deal of affection. INFJ parents may sometimes struggle with discipline, especially where this seems to get in the way of the development of the child as a unique individual. They may use more subtle ways to get children to do what they see as right instead.
The INTJ Parent
Those with personality preferences for INTJ take an analytical, strategic approach to life and this will be reflected in their parenting style. They're likely to have a considered plan for their children's future and will work hard to ensure everything is on track to achieve these goals, though the INTJ parent may sometimes expect too much too soon. They may be strict when it comes to rule-following and expectations, but they will also encourage their children to think critically and independently. They may find it difficult if one or more of their children is very affectionate, as they aren't always outwardly affectionate themselves.
The ISTP Parent
When they become parents, people with ISTP preferences may allow their spouse or partner to be the person who disciplines and creates structure for the children, and may also keep a certain emotional distance. Instead, they may become the practical, hands-on, problem-solving parent, teaching their children practical skills in a fun way and encouraging them to explore the world around them. This can mean they become the ‘fun parent’, which may in time be resented by their partner, who can find themselves taking the role of enforcer within the family.
The ISFP Parent
ISFP parents are typically supportive, relaxed, and not especially concerned with being stringent on things like grades, chores, and discipline. They're often quite artistic themselves, and will encourage their children to express themselves creatively, but without setting too high of expectations. They will appreciate doing practical, creative activities with their children, enjoying the moment. They may not always set appropriate ground rules for them, or give sufficient structure, and they can be too lenient and neglect to ‘push’ children even when this is useful and necessary.
The INFP Parent
Parents with INFP preferences are often very idealistic and compassionate. They're likely to encourage their children to be true to themselves and to follow their passions, but at the same time they will be keen to pass on their own values to their kids and may be disappointed if the child seems to ignore or to be scornful of these values. They're likely to be flexible when it comes to rules and may struggle when it comes to discipline. However, they're likely to provide a very nurturing, loving environment.
The INTP Parent
INTP parents often do things in their own way, rather than listening to others or following what's popular. They want their children to be independent, knowledgeable adults, and they'll encourage critical thinking and seek to pass on their own knowledge and expertise. Although they do care for their kids, they can sometimes find it difficult to connect emotionally with them. While generally they may have a quite relaxed parenting style, they can find it difficult to keep their cool when a child is behaving, in their mind, emotionally and illogically.
The ESTP Parent
People with ESTP preferences are often adventurous, even thrill-seeking, and tend to live in the moment. They may enjoy taking their children on exciting outings and encouraging them to try new things, especially sports or other physical activities. They are likely to be adaptable and flexible, encouraging their kids to take life as it comes. However, they may not always provide them with sufficient structure, or recognize when a child needs more stability in their life. They also might have a penchat to sometimes be short-tempered and lose their cool.
The ESFP Parent
ESFP parents are often very outgoing and social. They often enjoy spending time with their children and creating fun and exciting experiences for them, and they're likely to encourage them to explore their interests and express themselves creatively. Their kid’s happiness and emotional well-being are very important to them, and they're likely to be highly attuned to the child’s emotional needs; they typically express their affection openly. ESFP parents are usually quite relaxed about discipline but may be inconsistent in they way they apply rules, which can be confusing for the child. They may not always provide sufficient structure.
The ENFP Parent
People with ENFP preferences are often very enthusiastic and creative. They typically encourage their kids to explore their interests, express themselves creatively, and think differently. They want their little ones to experience personal growth and are likely to prioritize their happiness and emotional well-being. ENFP parents are typically very openly affectionate, but not all children will appreciate this. They can be over-protective or, occasionally, seek to live their life through their children. They can be inconsistent, which may be confusing for young people.
The ENTP Parent
ENTP parents enjoy novelty and are motivated to try new things with their children. They will encourage them to explore and question the world around them, and may encourage intellectual debate, discussions, and learning. They typically value independent thinking and may stimulate their children to think for themselves and make their own decisions. They can be easily distracted, and may sometimes be inconsistent in how they behave with their children, or neglect to give them sufficient overt affection.
The ESTJ Parent
People with ESTJ preferences are typically often organized, conscientious, and goal-orientated. They usually have high hopes for their children, choosing to focus on helping them develop practical skills and a strong work ethic, providing them with structure and with clear expectations. They can appear harsh when a kid does not do what they were expected to, and inflexible if a child wants to do something differently. This may be of particular importance in the teenage years.
The ESFJ Parent
ESFJ parents will take a warm, nurturing, and practical approach. They are likely to have a strong sense of duty to their family and may prioritize their children's emotional well-being above all else. They typically value tradition and structure and will provide their little ones with clear expectations and rules. However, they may find it difficult to apply discipline if these expectations are not met or the rules are broken. At times, they may be over-protective, ignoring any mistakes or bad behavior and reacting emotionally when these are pointed out by others.
The ENFJ Parent
People with ENFJ preferences often have a need, and an ability, to connect with other people on an emotional level, and this is likely to be reflected in their parenting style. They may be highly attuned to their children's needs and are likely to prioritize their emotional well-being; they will be openly affectionate and warm. They may also place a strong emphasis on personal growth and development and encourage their children to explore their interests and pursue their passions. They may, however, spend too much time trying to meet the individual needs of everyone in the family and may not find it easy to apply rules or discipline.
The ENTJ Parent
ENTJ parents are typically very organized, efficient, strategic and results-orientated. They will likely have a well-thought-out plan for their children's upbringing, encouraging them to set goals and work towards achieving them, and providing them with clear expectations and structure. These expectations may be set very high, and the children of ENTJ parents may sometimes begin to feel that they can never be quite good enough. To offset this, it is important that ENTJ parents avoid appearing too unemotional or too critical.
Don't know your MBTI personality type? Take the MBTI assessment and learn about your personality type and parenting style.
This article was first published by Brit + Co, June 2023.