So your baby has arrived, and by now, you’ve read all about pregnancy, birth and the first months of a baby’s life. You’ve got all the routines down about feeding, diapers, sleep habits and colic. You’re feeling more and more comfortable in your role as a parent. You feel unconditional love as this new person in your life opens your heart to emotions you’ve never experienced before. But you are also aware of anxiety at the major lifelong responsibility you’ve undertaken.
The nine types as parents of infants and toddlers
Personalities respond differently to both relaxing into the joy of unconditional love, and coping with the stress of responsibility for another life. When you are aware of what is motivating your behavior, it is easier to return to center, to a balanced sense of self. This is good for you and your baby.
1. Moralizer — is conscientious and moral, honest and idealistic. Moralizers focus on doing the right thing and avoiding error, this can lead to procrastination and a lack of spontaneity. Communications can be preachy and zealous. But they can be a true moral compasses for their children; they teach by example, and take on many causes. They motivate their children by striving for excellence.
Shifts in situations of security and stress: When you feel secure, almost another person emerges: we see your playful side. You have fun with your baby, are carefree, and fantasize about the future. When stressed, you tend to feel like a victim, focus on what’s missing, and lose your grip on details. This feels almost annihilating to you. Don’t blame the baby.
2. Helper — is empathetic, nurturing, relational and can give of him/herself with true altruism. Helpers focus on giving to others in order to meet their emotional needs — for love, approval, and admiration — and to avoid rejection. Communication can be ambivalent as Helpers find it hard to hold a line. Helpers can come across as manipulative, to those who are wary of flattery and constant emotional neediness. Helpers nurturing qualities are unparalleled.
Shifts in situations of security and stress: When you feel secure, you experience your emotions more deeply, and can direct your attention back toward yourself. Being more in touch with yourself allows you to connect even more deeply with your baby. When stressed, you can access aggression and anger. But don’t be concerned. You usually use this energy on behalf of others, especially your little one.
3. Organizer — is self-assured, competent, and efficient, an accomplished team-builder driven to achieve “success.” Organizers avoid failure. They focus on results and are task-oriented. Image-conscious they often deceive themselves and others, and can suspend experiencing emotions. Children can feel they are a “widget” as the Organizer parent manufactures the picture-perfect family. Organizers need to tell their children that they love them. Their positive energy is enlivening and infectious.
Shifts in situations of security and stress: When you feel secure, you slow down, and stop driving yourself and everyone else. There is space for your emotions to surface. You love feeling so close to your baby. When stressed your attention is split between an internal, over-zealous taskmaster, and your (temporally) lost ability to prioritize. This feels devastating for you.
4. Dreamer — is individualistic, creative, sensitive, and able to experience the highs and lows of deep emotions. Dreamers avoid ordinariness. They tend to focus on what is unavailable: the glass is always half-empty. Melancholia gives an attractive edge to life but can lead to depression. They envy others who seem to have what they are missing. Connection is a key motivation for Dreamers, and they desire and seek after deep and intimate connection with their children. They want their children to always be happy.
Shifts in situations of security and stress: When you feel secure, you are able to reach beyond your emotional responses, and know what is right for yourself and your baby. You can move toward decisions and take action. When stressed you experience extreme discomfort that too many people are making demands on you. You perceive this as a loss of personal boundaries and a sense of inner balance.
5. Observer — is private, measured, logical, and an intellectual seeker. Observers avoid (emotional) attachment. They focus on gaining knowledge as a way of making sense of the world. Observers can be retracted, overly self-controlled, detached from their emotions. Predictability means safety, no surprises please. Observers need to verbalize their love for their children and not trust that their (deep) emotions are known by osmosis or some other process. Their steadiness in crises is a valuable asset to their parenting.
Shifts in situations of security and stress: When you feel secure you experience a rush of energy through your body, this vitality and gut instinct allows you be physically present and affectionate with your baby. When stressed, you retreat even further into your mind with your thoughts in a chaotic whirl. You perform your parenting tasks on automatic, but it is difficult to deal with what is in front of you.
6. Questioner — is thoughtful, rational, loyal, dutiful and responsible. Questioners avoid being seen as different, and try to blend in. They constantly scan for hidden dangers: to themselves and their children. They are fearful, scared of success and vigilantly doubtful. This can lead to indecision, procrastination and unfinished projects. Questioners are ambivalent about authority, and do not model authority well for their children. Yet they are fiercely loyal, and dependable towards those they love.
Shifts in situations of security and stress: When you feel secure you are able to relax, let down your defenses and vigilance, and open your heart to access unconditional love and peace. Your baby revels in this attention. When stressed you can whip into action and leave behind the usual “thinking replaces doing” routine. But this is frequently after a deadline crisis that may detrimentally involve your baby’s well being.
7. Entertainer — is upbeat, enthusiastic, charming, spontaneous, and entertaining. Entertainers focus on being active, engaged with life, and having many pleasing options to choose from. They enjoy spending time planning and fantasizing. Entertainers avoid emotional pain. They have trouble making and keeping commitments. Entertainers can be self-involved and do not do well with the routine and mundane. They are positive, interactive parents, and are usually the first one getting sandy in the sand box.
Shifts in situations of security and stress: When you feel secure, you relish privacy. You and your baby are sufficient unto yourselves, and you can be very present to your little one. When stressed, you may become overtly self-critical and this may cause you to lash out sarcastically at others. Your tone of voice can scare your baby.
8. Protector — is confidant, powerful, a take-charge leader, honest, direct, and protective of “turf.” Those within their family are well protected. Protectors hate being dependent and avoid vulnerability. They can live “go-for-broke” excessive life styles. Their confrontational style can skew family dynamics for those of their children who are among the personality types that don’t do well with conflict. They are empowering parents, and use their personal force on behalf of their children.
Shifts in situations of security and stress: When you feel secure, you allow yourself to be vulnerable and open in a loving way. You take care of your loved ones in a caring fashion, different from your usual combative stance. When stressed, you usually blow up at someone, and then retire to your “den” to regroup. This excessive behavior can be damaging, especially with little ones.
9. Peacekeeper — is compassionate, energetic on behalf of others, noncompetitive, patient and sees all sides of an issue. Peacekeepers avoid conflict and confrontation. They are reluctant self-starters and procrastinators. Peacekeepers find difficulty in establishing priorities and making decisions. They fall asleep to their own needs and agendas, so it is all too easy for them to take on the agenda of “the family.” They falter around authority issues because they can see all sides of an argument. But they love unconditionally, and are the best supporters to have in your corner — they’ll do anything for their children.
Shifts in situations of security and stress: When you feel secure, you can access energy, drive and performance to further someone else’s agenda: in this instance it is your (fortunate) baby’s agenda. You will totally immerse yourself in caring for the little one. When stressed, your natural inertia is exacerbated by worst-case scenario thinking, and the resultant fear and even paranoia can be paralyzing. Try not to let yourself drift into this state.