Your personality shapes your parenting style

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Your personality shapes your parenting style

Posted 13 November 2023 by
Vanessa Bradford, MBTIonline Contributing Writer
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5 min. read

Your personality type shapes the way you parent. And your child’s personality type shapes the way they view their upbringing. In fact, the kind of childhood you intend for them to have might look vastly different than the one they experience. Whether you’re a seasoned parent, stepparent, dedicated caregiver, or you’re just starting out, there’s a lot to gain from learning about the personality types within your own family.

On a recent episode of The Myers-Briggs Company Podcast, parenting and personality expert Dr. Yvonne Nelson-Reid spoke about how personality type insights from the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator®(MBTI) and Murphy-Meisgeier Type Indicator for Children®(MMTIC) assessments can be invaluable for parent-child relationships. Read the previous blog for some fascinating Q&A from the first half of her interview. Now, here are some important questions she answered during the second half (quotes slightly edited for clarity):

How can I respect my child’s personality type while still honoring my own?

Open communication, mutual respect, and willingness to compromise can help any relationship. These things are especially important when raising children who will one day need to navigate relationships of their own. Dr. Nelson-Reid recommends gently letting your children know what your needs are, while at the same time being mindful of theirs. She recalls a time when her personality preferences seemed to clash with her children’s, and the thoughtful approach she used to compromise:

“I have three kids who prefer Sensing in the family. When they would come home from school, and I would ask, ‘How's your day?’, one of them in particular would start with, ‘I woke up at 7:00 a.m., I brushed my teeth, I got dressed, I got on the bus . . .’ And then I would hear every detail. My preference for Feeling meant that I wanted to accommodate them. But pretty soon it would just get to the point where it's like, ‘Oh my gosh, this is too much.’

And with my preference for Intuition, I was really just asking for kind of a framework. Just give me the big picture. I don't need all the details. But saying, ‘Hey that's too much. Stop!’ would obviously hurt their feelings. Instead, I learned to say, ‘Tell me the top three things that you loved about today.’ They knew they had a limit. And then they'd be happy and satisfied and get to go play and do their thing. And I wasn't feeling overwhelmed by all the details.”

Are there certain personality types that are naturally more nurturing?

It’s been said before, but it’s worth repeating: there’s no personality type that’s better or worse than others. Not only does our personality type affect the way we nurture and raise our children, but so do our interests, culture, and our own upbringing. There’s merit in a wide range of parenting styles. Dr. Nelson-Reid offers these examples of what nurture might look like depending on your personality:

“All types can nurture. How they do so may look quite different. Even how they define the term nurture may look different. For example, my mom prefers ISTJ. Growing up, I'd come home to a clean house, fresh cookies, bread, donuts. She'd make sure we got to our activities. She was always supportive of them. She would often take a behind-the-scenes leadership role in helping to run all the organizations we were part of. I felt nurtured through those acts. I, on the other hand, prefer ENFJ. I nurture my kids through hugs, cuddles, reading books together, or watching movies.

We often lean into what's natural for us. Again, we can stretch if a situation calls for it. And my middle child did not appreciate cuddles. She preferred more intellectual discussions, especially as she got older. Even when she was little, she wouldn't want to sit and cuddle and read a book. She'd want to talk about that book. She really looked at life more intellectually and logically. She wanted to learn how things worked rather than cuddle. The idea is you need to honor your natural style, but stretch to the opposite when necessary to do so.”

How do I put my foot down and still acknowledge my child’s preferences?

When you make it your mission to be a thoughtful parent who’s mindful of their child’s personality type, some of your “NO’s” might come with a little more nuance. Dr. Nelson-Reid tells us about a time one of her teenage daughters didn’t get something she wanted:

“When my kids were young and cell phones first came out, my oldest was 13 at the time. She had gone to a birthday party and some incidents went down, but she couldn't get to me. She was too afraid to ask the parents to use their phone. We didn’t want that to happen again, so I said, ‘Maybe it's time for you to have a cell phone’ – with restrictions of course. But it was only because she was always going out with friends. She was always going and doing things. Then the second child came along. Not a big deal. Didn't even question, didn't even ask.

But then the third child, the only one in the family who prefers Thinking, turned 13. Guess what she asked for? A cell phone. And I'm like, ‘But you don't go anywhere. You are our homebody. You hang out in the house. What are you going to use a cell phone for?’ She said, ‘My sister got a cell phone at age 13. It's only fair that I do too.’ And we didn't [agree], but we had to explain it logically. Rationally. And then she got it. But I had to speak her language for her to understand that.”

We’ve recapped a lot, but there are more great parenting stories and insights in the podcast episode that we didn’t cover. Listen to the full interview with Dr. Nelson-Reid. And be sure to: