5 Parenting Struggles of Every Intuitive Perceiver

Clinically Reviewed by Steven Melendy, PsyD. on November 12, 2018

Do I give my baby a pacifier or let her cry herself to sleep? Should I force the defiant toddler into a coat or let him feel the pain? Shall I let my child make his own decisions or enforce the rules with an iron fist?

All parents face challenges..... so many challenges! We all worry about whether we're doing the right thing. But when you're an Intuitive, Perceiving type (ENTP, INTP, ENFP, INFP), even the simplest decisions can seem effortful and huge. These types thrive in an environment of possibility and creative thinking. They worry that even a small decision could have serious long-term consequences for their child.

Here are five struggles that every NP encounters at some point in their parenting career. Let's see how many resonate!

1: Having to Deal with Routines

Being on time for school drop offs? 1 p.m. naptime? Doing things by the clock? What's the deal with that? Kids aren't machines! Routines might bring a sense of calm to Sensing-Judging types but they send you into a bit of a panic. You instinctively see the big picture rather than the boring, mundane details, which means that going potty, brushing teeth and keeping up with the laundry is endlessly frustrating to you.

Intuitive-Perceiving parents are full of curiosity and playfulness. You love to watch your kids explore the world and need to have an unstructured schedule where you can have a spontaneous picnic, wander the woods or kick back and go with whatever sparks your curiosity at any given time. You might be creating a rod for your own back, especially if you're raising a child who needs routines to feel grounded. But you're a much more relaxed parent when everything's a bit, well, random.

2: Overidentifying

This one is primarily for NFPs who can be so in tune with their child's feelings that they feel utterly crushed when their child feels pain. It can be extremely distressing for an NFP parent to discipline their child as they find it so easy to identify with him. And it's even more distressing when your partner is a firmer type who disagrees with your lenient approach to disobedience. Inconsistent discipline styles can be a great source of conflict to NFPs, who feel torn between maintaining family harmony and wanting to make the best decision for their child.

Overidentifying is especially problematic when you have more than one child. Most NFPs feel an urgent need to treat all their children fairly and to demonstrate that they love them all equally. Yet all siblings, at some time or another, believe that a situation is marred by favoritism. This dynamic can be deeply painful to NFPs. When a child is hurt by the way you're handling a situation, it cuts you to the quick.

3: Feeling Overburdened by Societal Pressures

We tend to label NPs as the playful, open-minded types of the 16-type system, who like to bring a little magic into their children's lives. And that's true, to a point. Intuitive-Perceivers will always teach their children that it's good to question, to explore and to challenge any rule that doesn't make sense. You really don't like the idea of controlling your child or shutting down their independence, so you tolerate a fair amount of rule breaking and encourage the endless stream "look at this!", "how does this work?" and "why, daddy, why?"

What's less understood is that NPs, and especially the introverted versions, feel isolated when it comes to parenting. There's a tremendous amount of societal pressure to conform to a certain style of child-rearing, and that style invariably is more hands-on and traditional than you support. The reason is that most women are SFJ types, and since it's still moms who tend to do most of the child-rearing, it's their experience that gets publicized the most. NPs can feel quite disconnected from this version of reality, to the point where they second guess themselves and worry that they're getting every decision wrong.

It's overwhelming to not be like the other moms out there. But the fact is, if you don't see the point of what you're doing, you're going to loathe doing it. More than a few NP parents have found themselves completely conflicted about the nonsensical nature of how certain child-related things are done – but it doesn't stop the gnawing sense of self-doubt that it's you who's wrong when you break from tradition and do things your own way.

4: Coping with the Sloooooow Speed of Childhood

We've established that NP parents struggle with the day-to-day drudgery of parenting; another problem is the complete loss of momentum you experience when you realize that this stuff goes on for years and years and years. Parenting is slow work – there are years of changing diapers, years of bagging up lunches, years of swimming lessons and homework help and parent-teacher conferences and dealing with kids who are fussy or emotionally needy or facing yet another friendship crisis.

And of course you'll try your best to cope with all of this even if your brain is dribbling out of your ears. But it's a struggle, because you feel completely trapped and stifled by the sameness of it all.

5: The Tendency to Wear Yourself Out When Presented with Multiple Options

If there's one constant about parenting, it's that it presents you with an endless flow of novel decisions and challenges. Do you feed your kids this food or that food? Do you buy this toy or that toy? Do you sign your kids up for this activity or that activity? Do you practice positive parenting, attachment parenting, free-range parenting, conscious parenting or French parenting? Do you choose this health guideline/ educational option/ vaccination schedule/ behavioral intervention/ screen-time plan/ freakin' Tooth Fairy myth or that one? You have so many choices to make all the time and it's exhausting!

Let's face it, NPs are not renowned for making snappy decisions. You like to explore every option to death, and it's only after you've considered every angle, pro, con and future impact that you'll dig yourself into this hole...or that one. There are plenty of upsides to this kind of decision-making style, but the one monumental downside is that it takes an awful lot of mental energy. Swinging from one option to the next takes a deep emotional toll. That means you're at a greater risk of burnout than other personality types, and you need to find ways to get some closure for your own peace of mind.

Jayne Thompson

Jayne is a B2B tech copywriter and the editorial director here at Truity. When she’s not writing to a deadline, she’s geeking out about personality psychology and conspiracy theories. Jayne is a true ambivert, barely an INTJ, and an Enneagram One. She lives with her husband and daughters in the UK. Find Jayne at White Rose Copywriting.

More from this author...
About the Clinical Reviewer

Steven Melendy, PsyD., is a Clinical Psychologist who received his doctorate from The Wright Institute in Berkeley, California. He specializes in using evidence-based approaches in his work with individuals and groups. Steve has worked with diverse populations and in variety of a settings, from community clinics to SF General Hospital. He believes strongly in the importance of self-care, good friendships, and humor whenever possible.


Margareta (not verified) says...

Finally...validation! My son is 17 and about to graduate next spring, but this article sums up just about all of the diffuculties I've experienced as an INFP parent. I wish I could have read this 18 years ago. Don't get me wrong — parenting has been a beautiful, wonderful experience, the best and most rewarding thing I could have ever done, and my son and I are so close, and I'm so proud of who he's become. It has truly been a blast in so many ways, and continues to be. But I've also had all of the struggles and self-doubts and feelings of isolation listed above, and it's caused so much stress and has led me to wonder so many times if I was failing as a mom. So even now, near the end of the journey, when my son is about to be going off to college, this article comforts my heart. Thank you!

Robin2018 (not verified) says...

My kids are 18 and 15, but I could pretty much have written Margareta's reply. This article  explains so much, including why I always felt like I was doing everything WRONG. Thank you so much!!

Kelli Woodruff-Stowe (not verified) says...

This is all sooo true! Christmas shopping is torture because I spend more time debating on what to get and whether they really want that gift. Everything on this is list is valid. I come from a community that is so critical on childrearing and it conflicts with my parenting choices often. 

@mysticmalu on insta (not verified) says...

I agree with all of this and on one end it helps a to not feel alone but also sometimes I wish I could just be happier with it all.  My kids are 5, 4, 2, and 9 weeks...I’m in the trenches.  It’s so true, I struggle hard core with schedules and school stuff and even making sure they all brush their teeth! I can barely care about these things on my own, let alone trying to manage it for 4 other people.  I love the idea of unschooling and allowing my kids to (ehem MYSELF) to just be and play and learn organically.  But it is radical in mainstream parenting and then there is having to take in which kids really need the structure and which work well with less.  I wanted all these kids and I know one day I’ll look back and think, “aw, wish you were still that cute and gave me hugs and kisses” but mostly right now I’m just trying not completely lose my mind.  When I envisioned having kids they were already adults ? 

katiedL says...

Your comment hit home. I have just three kids, 8, 5, and 18 months. I’m in the trenches with you. And before now it felt like I was totally drowning. I have worked with the ideas of unschooling and all that it magically and wonderfully entails. It has been a hard idea for others to understand. With that....My daughter (8) went to public school starting this past October. And of course, I’m still questioning whether or not she should stay in school. For now, I’m holding on to the fact that it has given me space to work on me. 

Man, all this stuff is helping me to not feel so strange. Not being great with schedules, thinking everything would be so much better with a schedule like everyone else seems to be having not as hard of a time doing. Beating myself up for not doing this or that, knowing that either way I would be beating myself up. I’m so thankful there are other ppl out there. We are not alone. 

Lynnie (not verified) says...

@mysticmalu, I have been so tempted by homeschooling to keep me sane in the schedule and sameness and conformity of school that I joined the homeschooling organization. But it's my introversion and lack of scheduling discipline that kept me from doing it. One daughter is an extrovert and would have worn me out!

Mariette (not verified) says...

Oh my goodness, this is so spot on! I am an INFP and every point you've made in the article is true. It is comforting to understand why I struggle with the stifling school system that steals our children's childhoods. Thanks for interesting and eye-opening article!

MaryHogg says...

Being on time for school drop offs?

Lynnie (not verified) says...

@MaryHogg  Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha. Can probably count on one hand

Carole Stuenkel (not verified) says...

This makes me both disheartened and comforted at the same time. I don't have kids yet... But I am an INTP and I stress all the time about what it will be like! I have a partner who had a rather strict, cut-and-dry upbringing (he grew up outside of the US), which I value immensely, but I feel like I'm going to be a huge pushover! I just know I'm going to give myself ulcers trying to decide what (out of the thousands of possible options) will be the best for my children.

I guess the best thing to take away from this is to know I won't be alone, and to practice letting things go in the meantime. ;) 

Thanks so much for the insight!

Lynnie (not verified) says...

@Carole Stuenkel  I seemed to clash with my extroverted 2 year old so much that it is what prompted me to get a book on personality types in children. It really helped! If you can figure out their personalities or at least get close, you can see where they're coming from and use it do motivate & discipline them.

Alex282 (not verified) says...

We are two NP parents in my household and it gets pretty crazy! I'm an ENTP and my husband is an INFP so we really struggle with routine, setting boundaries and sticking by our "rules" (we really don't have many). My gut tells me my daughter is an ENFJ (only time will tell) but she thrives on routine and order, which makes me a bit nuts, but pushes me to work harder to give her the structure she needs. But it's really hard! I can so relate to this post and finally feel that I'm not alone in this parenting struggle. :D

Rae (not verified) says...

ENTP and my partner is an ENFP. The struggle is real!

USAFBeth says...

Reading this makes me question how I survived raising seven children without going completely insane. This is all me, all the time. My baby is 24 - 24! - and I still question if I did right by them. I still struggle when they feel pain of any kind. I tried to stick to the rules to teach them that rules matter, but I wasn't above taking them out at 1 am to watch the northern lights on a school night. (Yes, they missed school the next day.) Some things only come around once in a lifetime. As one on the farside of "Been there, done that", cut yourself some slack and remember that love and kindness are the most important things. My kids all managed to survive the constant chaos in spite of being not NPs. One HUGE thing that makes life easier is a chore calendar (Yep, put "Brush hair and teeth" on that!) As they start to take responsibility for their own stuff, it gets easier. It also helps you maintain your sanity. Relax! You're going to be just fine...

Kim Jacobson says...

As always, this is beautifully written! Your choice of words is spot on! I indentify with so much of this and reading this article has helped to process some of my day to day feelings. Thank you! 

Rhonda Redmond (not verified) says...

I couldn’t understand why I felt inadequate when it came to raising my daughters. I never felt as comfortable being a mom like the “other moms” I encountered day to day. Now, I’m raising my 3 year old grandson. After reading this article, and seeing there are others like me, I won’t be so hard on myself from now on. Everything makes perfect sense now. This personality type has nothing to be ashamed of. Everyone should take this test. It could be life changing...thank you so much. 

Clare-Louise says...


BridgetLee (not verified) says...

I relate to this article so much!  I'm ENFP and I have 2 boys, 12 and 7.  Parenting them is my greatest joy, hugest challenge and deepest despair!  It's hard sometimes to have faith that they will come out alright, despite my mistakes.  I always tell myself to try and enjoy something every day, because they will be grown up before I know it.  Thanks for the tip Lynnie, I need to do a test on them and work on us all understanding each other...


Rae (not verified) says...

As an ENTP Mother I am so happy I have found this article. 4 kids, cause you know New Experiences are interesting, and the Phrase brains dripping out of my ears is so bang on. The monotany of parenting is honestly excuriating. I love the little people that I made, but they really wring me out.

The one thing I will say that you may have over looked is the exhausting amount of Emotional work that Parenting involves. As a type that tends to take responsibility for the emotions of others, and trys to work the emotional angle to make everyone happy, parenting is hands down the most exhausting unending party I have ever attended!

Slainte To all my fellow NP's! 

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