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April 12, 2009


Katie B.

You're so frigging wise.

Note I'm not saying perfect or anything like that. But... so many of us don't have the analytical skills, let alone the ability to admit mistakes, to see and do half of what you do.

Well, and your particular gift with people doesn't hurt. ;)

But you do remain an inspiration to me.


Well done to realize this when he's seven instead of 17, by which time you'd really have problems!


@Quadelle, my mom realized my sister was an introvert when she was around 16 years old, which was very much a Way Too Late scenario (especially because parenting habits were ingrained at that point, and she kept forgetting and going back to treating her like an extrovert again). Fingers crossed that I don't miss any boats by that degree...

I'm still going to have a lot of habits to break, though.

@Katie B., I'll also freely admit that part of my parenting is based on my own personality type (ENXP - right on the line between ENFP and ENTP), which is highly suited to seeing into others. It also brings some challenges others don't have - I can be kind of random, or cycle on things that are totally beside the point, and have trouble following tasks to completion unless I have a deadline (that being a learned skill - did not come naturally). So I get a lot of complaints from Mr G that I drop the ball, promise and then forget, etc. - very much NOT what he needs. Much chitchat, much interaction, much insight, not so much planning.

And then I do things like talk to Mr G about (AAAHHHH!) sex and puberty, like it's no big deal. But his type is way more internal on stuff like that, so while he's not offended, he's a bit squirmy and rather baffled - WHY would you want to talk about this with me? We're not a perfect mesh, but I do my best on it. Other parents will do different things best.

And the skills on typing are really a learned thing - I had to read the books. Follow the link above...


Wow, this is really neat. I found out about Myers-Briggs types in high school (I'm an INTP - the type most likely to know what their type is), finally did a bunch of reading about it in university, eventually got curious about what type my mother was, did a bunch of reading, gave her the book...ISFJ. Extreme S. I'm an extreme N - almost off the chart. Turns out that if you're opposite in the S-N spectrum you have real problems communicating (why are you stuck on the details and refusing to see the big picture??? I don't care what people wore to the wedding...I want to know did you have a good time?). Finally, once I was into my 20s, we started to begin to be able to have a conversation that didn't end in total frustration.
This is just to let you know that even if you totally miss the boat on figuring your kids out...sometimes they will figure you out.


Fascinating way to think about your kids' (and husband's) personalities in relation to your own and how to deal with them. I hadn't even thought about this! My husband and I are similar is so many ways, but there are a few differences, which can be explained by our slight differences in typing! Thanks for the insight!


Thank you! I LOVE these discussions of how to help children succeed given their particular personalities.

It's hard for me to do as an INTJ myself (yes to the big ideas and less-than-grand follow-through!) with a toddler who is an extroverted perciever so far. I just don't see what she needs sometimes. Just. don't. see. it.

I'll find myself giving her the moment-by-moment breakdown of the day so she won't be surprised by scheduling changes (something that made me melt down as a child). And then I realize that she just wants to cuddle in bed and laugh with mama a little in the morning before we all leave the house for work and daycare. She doesn't care about the schedule at all. Never has.

Your blog helps me immeasurably as a reminder to check myself when things aren't working and try something different. We're all happier for it...

the milliner

Can't wait to have a better sense of what type my son is (he's 10 mos now). Reading your post piqued my interest in re-reading about my own type again (ISFJ), and I came across this:

"ISFJ's can become mired in the daily grind and the unending work around them...". Oh yeah. Hello parenting an infant. I must admit this is one of the things I find the hardest during DS' first year of life (and being at home with him 24/7). The laundry, the vacuuming...when will it stop?! Yeah, I know. Never. Or until they can learn how to do their own laundry & help with the vacuuming.

Will definitely be brushing up on MB types (and a few others out there). Anything to help understand my kid (and my DH, for that matter) better (& therefore make parenting easier) is worth a (re)read.

Thanks for the interesting post, and the reminder that it's a work in progress.


Thanks for the reminder about both the personality types and the off-kilter cycles! I think the monkey (15) (who always feels so foreign to me) is diametrically opposed on the MBTI. I wiki'd it to get the gist of the indices again, then looked up what I think his type is and, um, it sounds a lot like him (I am having trouble judging if he's an E or an I, but either description sounds like him). Anyways, sometimes it feels like he's foreign because he's "step", but it's more nuanced than that - he has a really different personality than me, and he's probably hard for me to predict because he inherits a bunch of it from DH and his mom.

I think La (age 6 1/4) is starting a "growth spurt" - where she's re-digesting her world and growing and getting more coordination stuff worked out. All of a sudden she's all knees and elbows, running and bumping into stuff, dropping stuff, forgetting what she was going to ask, all at full throttle. It's challenging - it's making me cross. But I guess I just need to wait it out. Now that I'm thinking about it more, this is probably in response to your previous post.

Amanda Too

"It's a question whether he's more of an S or more of an N. But I suspect more S - there's the element of total avoidance of tedium or boredom, the need for things to be Fun to be Worth Doing, the tendency to want to make it into a game - that's more ESFP than ENFP. Could still change, though."

So, in contrast, would an ENFP just go off into "la-la land" and create internal stimulation through imagination/daydreaming to cope with the tedium rather than creating a real-world game to make it bearable?

I finished reading Mother Styles last week, on your recommendation.

I read it to get some insight into myself as a mother, already knowing my type and suspecting that it does not make me well suited to staying home with twin toddlers.

It was very helpful and sparked some eureka conversations with DH ("Oh, I thought your biggest need was to get out of the house to see people, moderate E wife, and I'm always insisting on that, trying to be supportive, when what you really need is fuel for the off-the-chart N whose day is filled with laundry, food goo and lost shoes!) but the biggest surprise was reading about *my* mom (off-the-chart S) and how much trouble she must have had understanding me. If she had read this book, she might not have paid for years of behavior modification therapy!

I imagine we could have avoided so much heartache, including me moving out at age 16. So, over Easter weekend, I shared my insights with her, through my tears, offered her empathy for the tough job she had and forgiveness for the things she didn't know. And the things she didn't know she didn't know.

She was a little uncomfy with the big theories and grandiose ideas about people, as well as the expressions of regret and longing, but it was good and cathartic nonetheless.

So, thank you for the book recommendation, and other insights I've gleaned from your own writings. I'm so glad you're an extravert so we can all benefit from your externalized process. =)

Erin T

I was typed XNFJ in college (exactly 50/50 E/I), but would like to see how much things have changed in the last 10 years. I, like Mr B, have a HORRIBLE time with the mundane and had a light bulb moment. I keep trying to talk my friends into coming over and keeping me company while I weed (only one at a time), and the best time I ever had cleaning my room (as a child) was when my brother-in-law kept me company while I worked. (To be fair, I'm sure he did more cleaning than I did, but he got to marry my sister, so he won in the end!) I'm looking forward to seeing how my little guy develops (19 mos). Thanks for the insight! I always thought I was weak, lazy, and flawed. Now I know it's the way my brain works so I can look for a more suitable workaround rather than just thinking of it as a fatal flaw and beating myself up.


So I typed myself and I'm an INFJ. My partner - ESTP. I knew we were different and have always said our differences work into strengths the other doesn't have but the thing I just realized - the eight year old - he's just like her. He exhausts me. No structure, no order, no routine, nothing should be dull or boring and he never, ever wants to be alone. I kept thinging it was his age or gender or lack of meaningful structure - but he creates the chaos and likes it apparently. Or maybe it isn't chaotic to him. I have no idea but I guess I'll have to figure out a way to understand him more.

Thanks for the prompt to look this direction.


Hedra, I'm SO glad you linked this in your most recent post! Like you, I'm ENXP, and the MBTI has been such a helpful lens through which to understand people.

Maya (4-1/2) is, without a question, ESFP like Mr. B. Your insights into what helps him do the mundane make SO much sense to me -- and I hadn't considered things like dressing and cleaning her room from her perspective! When we do the "Mary Poppins" approach, she loves cleaning her room. Without that, it simply doesn't happen. Ever. For dressing, she'll do it herself, but there are "rounds" of dressing and many layers to her outfits. Between each round, she has to show off what she's done and I MUST acknowledge her creativity before she's willing to move on. Some say she often looks like a bag lady (my ISFJ grandmother would be one of those). I say that she has her own ideas, and I love that, even though it means we often butt heads.

@the milliner This made me crack up:
"Oh yeah. Hello parenting an infant. I must admit this is one of the things I find the hardest during DS' first year of life (and being at home with him 24/7). The laundry, the vacuuming...when will it stop?! Yeah, I know. Never. Or until they can learn how to do their own laundry & help with the vacuuming."

Um, dude. In my world, it's not that they stop...it's that they just don't get done. Dirty house? I can live with that. For a while, anyway.

Count me with those who are perfectly willing to do chores (all the work, even), as long as someone else is nearby to keep my mind occupied. Otherwise? Um...let's just say I have 3 laundry baskets' worth of clothing waiting to be folded. SIGH.


Have you tried the Enneagram for typing? It is also very interesting.

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