By Jenni Ho-Huan
Many factors shape how we parent. Our ideals, our experiences as children, societal pressures, our values, and even the state of our physical well-being.
In this article, we look at how our personality impacts the way we approach parenting.
Four basic styles
Using the DISC system as a base, let’s consider the following behavioural styles:
• Dominant – looks at the big-picture and bottomline, tend to be impatient
• Influence – premium on good relationships, tend to give in
• Steady – find changes trying, tend to opt for stability
• Compliance – great with details, tend to over-manage
While we might possess all four behavioural traits in some way or other, the difference lies in the extent of dominance of each dimension.
A parent with a bias towards the Dominant behaviourial style tends to be a go-getter. He/she may be a little short on details and always waiting for the spouse or child to catch up! The parent with the Influence style wants everyone to get along and gets stressed when the fine balance is broken. The parent with the Steady style prefers to stick to the safe, tried route and is easily satisfied as long as no one rocks the boat. And the parent with the Compliance style prefers to have all the details and a bit more where possible.
No one behaviourial style makes a better parent. In fact, our babies in time will display their own personalities too. The reality of parenting is such that each behaviourial style will do well with some flexibility. For instance, the Dominant-style husband or wife may be able to plot big ideas and longer-term plans but need to be flexible enough to adjust those goals during exigencies, for example, when baby falls sick.
How to work as team
It would be helpful for couples to sit down once a while to share feelings and expectations about parenting. Invariably, there will be times we feel we have failed or have serious fears about certain issues. Our spouse would be in the best position to discuss our concerns, reassure us, and lend a helping hand to address problems.
In this way, you will experience the fun of working and growing as a team and begin to build a family culture of co-operation.
Dr Eliza Lian-Ding, family counselor and author of Why Your Children Love You, encourages parents to embrace their differences. Indeed, parents with different personalities can certainly complement each other. What's important is that they respect each other's differences and don't expect the other to do things in the same manner. And a child can also benefit from interacting with parents with different behavioural styles. .
For example, a parent who prefers to stick to rules and norms would still be able to strike up a good partnership with a more spontaneous and creative spouse. The child will have the best of both worlds, when he learns to adopt the appropriate style in different situations. Similarly, an extroverted parent can model expressiveness and encourage a child to be friendly in social settings, while the more introverted spouse can facilitate quiet and thoughtful processing during learning. The important thing is to be natural with each other and with your child.
Your ability to value your own style while accepting differences in your spouse will enable both of you to work well as a team! This in turn helps prepare your child to accept and deal with diverse personalities the real world.
Books you may read
There are many different personality resources out there which you may want to read about.
The book titled “Know Your Parenting Personality” employs the Ennegram (E-model) theory that describes personalities in terms of nine intelligences. The author, Janet Levine, helps you to discover your own personality and learn how to recognize your parenting strengths and weaknesses.
“Mother Styles” is another book that uses the Myers-Briggs system of personality type. Janet P. Penley with Diane Eble explains the innate mind-sets that make up 16 distinct mothering approaches.