If you haven’t yet identified your Myers-Briggs personality type, we highly recommend you do so. (Take your time. We’ll wait.) While understanding your specific traits won’t change our high-pressure parenting culture, it could give you new insight into how you navigate it, for better and for worse (because hey, we’re all mixed bags). Your relationship with your children—and the characteristics you model for them—is more predictive of their future success and happiness than many other factors. Here’s to digging deep and figuring out what to change about the way you parent—and what to celebrate.
ISTJ: The Overachiever
You are critical, decisive, organized and efficient. You may be a textbook Authoritarian parent. You definitely own a coffee cup with “My way or the highway” on it. Every coat is hung up in the mudroom. Every chore is charted (reward stickers conditional upon your satisfaction). And heaven help your kids if they lose their homework, forget their lunch or burp loudly in a restaurant. The great news is, kids thrive with structure, routines and clear expectations. But then again, they are kids; making mistakes is in their job description. You may want to allow for some flexibility, some of the time. Parenting is messy and meandering. If you are always so tightly controlled (and controlling), consider whether you are operating from a place of fear rather than love. You may be creating a new problem for your kids (a lack of independence, shame, inflexibility, aggression with peers) in an effort to correct an old one from your past.
ISFJ: The Traditionalist
You are warm and dependable, organized but realistic, caring and helpful. You are probably the holy grail of parenting types: Authoritative. Your kids know you’re the boss but don’t feel robbed of their voice. You believe in setting them up for success but then letting them spread their wings and fly, even if it means they crash. You’re open to collaborative problem solving. That’s when you ask for their input when determining consequences for their misdeeds so they understand not only what they did wrong but also how to do better next time. Keep on rocking this parenting thing. You (clearly) got this.
INFJ: The Creative Force
You are visual, emotive and inspiring (Naked finger painting? Family composting? Expert K’Tan tying? Bring it!). You read them poetry in utero and sing them lullabies en français. Your creative gifts and quiet perseverance through the hard times are traits they’ll be lucky to inherit. Yes of course you’ll sacrifice sleep to hot-glue the Halloween costume/decorate the cupcakes/calligraph the invitations—and you’ll like it. One area to work on (since you are such a fan of seeking personal growth, after all)? Your sensitivity and intensity can be a heady combo for little kids to comprehend. You feel everything deeply but you can’t protect them from every bump and bruise (emotional or otherwise). Feel your feelings (as if you had another choice—ha) but don’t let them turn you into a Helicopter or a Lawnmower.
INTJ: The Perfectionist
You are a decisive power player, logical and determined. You love your kids fiercely and value mutual understanding. But in reading your personality profile, this phrase stuck out: “Pursues competence, improvement.” We couldn’t help thinking: Tiger Parent. Wanting what’s best for your kids is understandable. And setting a high bar certainly has its upsides—if done with empathy. But linking their self-worth to their achievements comes at a cost: Living to please one’s parents “is unsustainable,” says education expert Jenny Grant Rankin, “and these children can rebel later in life—giving up healthy goals entirely — when they reach an age where independence is possible."
ISTP: The Fixer
You are logical and sensible. You’re a cool observer and a trouble-shooting problem solver. You are independent and adventurous (see: your decision to raise children—the biggest adventure of them all). And yet, your analytical mind may not always know how to deal with a volatile toddler (not THAT cup!!!) or a brooding teenager (Ugh MOOOOOOOM)—by definition, two of the most dramatic, irrational creatures to ever walk the earth. The good news? You are adaptable. May we suggest some light reading?
ISFP: The Burnout
You are gentle, caring, compassionate, idealistic, loyal and helpful. You are patient and self-sacrificing. You have all the makings of a masterful mom (or dad). But you also have the personality type that’s primed for parental burnout. The antidote to burnout, experts say, lies not in what you choose to do (i.e., beat yourself up for not finding time for self-care); it’s what you refuse to do. Set your boundaries, make your choices and just say no whenever possible: To the PTA, to more extra-curricular activities, to a grossly inequitable division of mental or domestic labor, to being the office mom. Most important of all, learn to say no to your kids sometimes. You’ll all be healthier for it.
INFP: The Peacekeeper
You are a caring, compassionate, idealistic and empathetic helper. You seek harmony. You may often find yourself mediating disputes between your children, and perhaps (if you are in the sandwich generation phase) between your own siblings and parents. Understand the limits of your diplomacy. Be a mother, not a martyr.
INTP: The Free Ranger
You are detached, critical and independent. You may believe that when it comes to parenting, less is more. You may be right (see: Operation Varsity Blues). In this day and age, it can seem like nothing is more toxic than being a Snowplow parent. But even though your kids appear to be self-sufficient, they still need you (yes, even the door-slamming teenagers). Experts say playing or talking one-on-one with each of your kids for ten minutes, twice a day, will vastly improve their behavior and attention span. Consider this your gentle reminder to check in, even when your own sense of overwhelm or avoidance instincts tell you to check out.
ESTP: The Social Butterfly
You crave excitement and action. You are spontaneous (Weekend road trip? Just let me grab the Pack n’ Play!). But even your pragmatic, adaptable nature may be tested by the ritualized, mundane monotony of parenthood. The key is finding a community of like-minded parents to satisfy your social drive. These fellow travelers will also tell you that yes, it is absolutely normal (and also incredibly sweet) to read the same book, serve the same food and have the same conversations 14 billion times.
ESFP: The Life of the Party
You are energetic (even after a decade of sleep deprivation), socially driven, friendly, caring, expressive and open (even after a decade of unsolicited parenting advice). Your house is a revolving door of playdates and your weekends are jam packed with birthday parties. You are spontaneous, fun-loving and generous with everyone. Your fans are legion; just make sure your kids know they’re at the top of your list.
ENFP: The Dreamer
You are imaginative, creative, warm and playful. Who better to get on all fours and pretend to be a unicorn for six straight hours on a rainy Sunday? When you read, you do all the voices. When you bake, you let your kids add all the food coloring. You are optimistic, always on the lookout for what’s new and fun, and prone to fantasies about your family’s glorious future. With your head in the clouds, you may need extra help staying organized (Their library books are due when? The orthodontist said what?). But there are bullet journals for that.
ENTP: The Globalist
You are energetic, highly intelligent and independent. You embrace change and love sinking your teeth into complex, abstract ideas. You get restless. You want to travel the world with your kids. You are essentially Angelina Jolie. You’d sooner spend your family time volunteering or protest marching than glitter-gluing rhinestones onto DIY fairy wands. You deeply believe that teaching your kids to make a difference out there will transform who they are in here. Rock on. Just know that it really is OK to put on your PJs and chill at home once in a while.
ESTJ: The She-E-O
Are you by any chance the president of your PTA? With your assertive, responsible, organized, take-charge personality, you probably should be. You are decisive, results-oriented and no nonsense (just the facts, ma’am). Just don’t forget to have fun—and hug your kids—while you’re busy kicking all that a--.
ESFJ: The Yes (Wo)Man
You are responsible, cooperative, conscientious, orderly, grateful and loyal. Hey, you just love people! Which explains why you are driving the soccer carpool three nights a week while also leading the Girl Scout troop and working full-time. All this people-pleasing leaves you running on fumes, or as one parenting writer put it, “At the end of the day, I have given everything I have, and what’s left is an empty husk watching Real Housewives.” Your kids deserve your time and attention. Everyone else comes second.
ENFJ: The Oprah
You are socially active, warm and polite. You try to help people work out their conflicts; a pot stirrer you are not. You can keep a secret like nobody’s business, which explains why all your friends—and your kids’ friends—confide in you. You always know just the right thing to say. Note to your future daughter-in-law: Lady, you hit the jackpot.
ENTJ: The General
You are an organizer and a planner. You are decisive, strategic and assertive. You love systems and external markers of success (good report cards, great shoes). Your Disney itinerary should have won an award. Your pantry makes Khloe Kardashian’s look sloppy. You believe there’s always room for improvement (including when it comes to your spouse and kids). So what if your kids call you pushy? You’ll be their first call when things go south.