Ups and downs come with the territory when you’re raising children, regardless of your personality type. But as an Enneagram Four mom or dad, you have a particular set of joys and challenges. Here's where you are likely to shine, and where you may struggle, plus some tips that will help you reach your peak parenting zone.
Strengths of the Enneagram Four Parent
Enneagram Four parents recognize their children as a major life priority. While you may be absorbed in your own feelings from time to time, you never neglect your kids or treat them as if their problems and worries are trivial.
As a loving and dedicated Enneagram Four parent, you’ve accepted the responsibilities that come with such an important position. That’s why you’re always looking for ways to improve your parenting skills – you see it as your sacred responsibility to make this effort. Even though you’re busy, you always try to make time for your children and listen with compassion when they need to talk about what is going on in their lives.
Following your Four instincts, you’ve probably done a good job of helping your kids acknowledge and stay in touch with their emotions. You’ve likely made them feel comfortable coming to you for guidance when they’re feeling lost or overwhelmed. You’ve almost certainly helped them cultivate an interest in art, music, nature and creativity, giving them the tools they need to develop their minds completely.
All Enneagram Four moms and dads will make some mistakes. But you’ll try to learn from those mistakes and make the necessary adjustments, motivated by your unconditional love for your offspring. Your desire to help your children grow and mature and achieve their dreams is sincere, and having your unwavering support can instill them with the self-confidence they need to thrive in childhood and ultimately make a successful transition to adulthood.
Challenges of the Enneagram Four Parent
Sometimes, Enneagram Four caregivers become so caught up in their own self-doubts or turmoil that they lose sight of how their behavior might be affecting their kids.
Rather than maintaining your poise when things go wrong, you may display your stress openly in front of your family. In some instances, Enneagram Four moms and dads like yourself will even involve their children in their personal dramas, not realizing that kids can become stressed or intimidated when their parents treat them too much like adults.
Another challenge can emerge from your quest to be a unique individual who charts your own course. Naturally you want your children to embrace their individual destinies with as much enthusiasm as you do. But you tend to see the world through Enneagram Four-colored glasses, which is why you may struggle to understand or sympathize with your kids’ desperate need to fit in with their peer group.
They may constantly seek validation from others their own age, as a way to reinforce their shaky and still-developing sense of self-esteem. The urge to conform is common in young people. But, since it wasn’t a motivating factor in your life, you may feel impatient and even a little disappointed with your kids’ apparently obsessive need for social acceptance.
An additional difficulty for many Enneagram Four parents has to do with setting rules, regulations and clear boundaries. Because you often ride a wave of emotions, you might come down hard on your kids one day but be far more understanding and conciliatory of the same behaviors the next day. You may waffle rather than clearly spelling out the expectations, and that can leave your children feeling very confused about what behaviors are acceptable.
Parenting Tips for the Enneagram Four Parent
You won’t reach your peak parenting zone by just going with the flow. Here are five things to work on that can help you become more effective as an Enneagram Four parent:
#1 Reign in your tendency to be overly self-critical
If your kids hear you putting yourself down or belittling your own efforts, it can undermine their confidence in themselves. In the worst case, you might even be training them to see the world as a hostile and uncooperative place.
Instead of wallowing in self-recrimination when things go wrong, focus on finding solutions to your problems. Your kids will notice your resiliency, and they will come to see that as the normal and rational response to hardship and disappointment.
#2 Share your feelings in moderate doses
Enneagram Fours wear their emotions on their sleeves, and it wouldn’t be healthy for you to repress your feelings all the time. But you shouldn’t be overly dramatic or emotional in front of your kids, since they may be frightened or stressed by seeing you in such a state.
The best way to maintain an acceptable balance is to talk about your feelings with your kids, but in a controlled and age-appropriate way. Don’t overwhelm them with your problems, but don’t hide anything from them, either. As they get older and more mature you’ll be able to share more with them, while still remaining fully in control of your emotions and your style of presentation.
#3 Ask a lot of questions and really pay attention to the answers
You may be enthusiastic about offering your kids advice. But before you do this, take time to get as much information as you can from your children so you know exactly what kind of support they need. You’ll be putting their feelings front and center, unleashing your empathy for their benefit.
Your children may not volunteer a lot of information at first. But they will become more comfortable with your curiosity over time, and you’ll be able to draw them out more once they realize your questions are motivated by an authentic desire to be supportive.
#4 Commiserate, but don’t dominate the conversation
At some time in your life, you’ll likely have faced the same type of conflicts, confusions and conundrums that are troubling your children now. You can help them a lot by talking about your experiences, which could mean discussing your own survival strategies or admitting your regrets over the times when you let challenging situations get the better of you.
But you must be careful not to overdo it. Instead of making it all about you, it's better to briefly share your experiences before switching the focus back to them. Your natural empathy as an Enneagram Four is a tremendous asset, and once you’ve let your children know you’re a compassionate listener it will boost the impact of your stories quite a bit. To put it simply, they will listen to you because you’re also listening to them.
#5 Accept that their social needs may be different than yours
This one is a big challenge for the Individualist, non-conforming Enneagram Four. Most children and adolescents are heavily influenced by peer pressure. To truly support them, you’ll need to come to terms with this and gently encourage them to follow their own path even as you express sympathy over their need to feel like a part of the group.
You’ll desperately want your children to be independent and to think and act for themselves. But they may not be interested in forging their own distinctive identity until they reach adulthood. Your kids will ultimately need to find their own way, and you’ll be better positioned to help them do that if you put aside your preconceived notions about how that process should unfold.
Holistic Parenting and the Enneagram Four
At different times, the best parents may act as role models, authority figures, best friends, sources of wit and wisdom or suppliers of unconditional love and understanding. The good news is, as an Enneagram Four, you have the vision necessary to be all of these things and more. Raising kids as an Enneagram Four will always present some unique challenges, but it also has the potential to bring out the best in you as a parent. So don’t be afraid to embrace your role and use your gifts to the fullest. Your children will thank you for it!