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Parenting Pointers: Using the Enneagram

From an interview by Motherhood Moments with Ann Gadd

Cover of Better Parenting with the Enneagram by Ann Gadd
Better Parenting with the Enneagram by Ann Gadd

Parenting Pointers: Using the Enneagram. In her new book, Better Parenting with the Enneagram, Certified Enneagram practitioner and experienced parent Ann Gadd explores the 9 Enneagram parenting types and the 9 Enneagram child types, revealing each type’s strengths and challenges, as well as exploring all 81 parent-child type combinations. She offers a quiz to determine your Enneagram type and explains how to discover your child’s type.

By Bekah

I had a chance to interview the author to learn more.

Where did the Enneagram come from?

The symbol itself has a Greek-Armenian origin. A spiritual teacher, George Gurdjieff, introduced it to the modern world in the early 20th century. Later, Oscar Ichazo, in the late 1950s and ’60s, developed the basis of the different types, which was further expanded on by psychiatrist and Oscar’s pupil, Claudio Naranjo, in 1970. Since then, numerous teachers and researchers have added to this body of information, particularly when it comes to developing the personality types of the Enneagram. The word is pronounced N-ya-gram, and means nine logo or graphic.

How does understanding the Enneagram help parents and caregivers?

As a parent or caregiver, if you know your Enneagram type, you’re aware of your strengths and weaknesses. This knowledge allows you to develop your parenting strengths while working on the areas that could be problematic. For example, if you tend to be very in your head (one of the three Head, rather than three Heart or Body types), working to connect with your feelings will deepen the connection with your child. The Enneagram opens a book to yourself, so it’s not always easy, as we tend to react to our neuroses until we understand their underlying causes and can make conscious changes. For example, you may be unaware of how strong your urge to control is. Understanding why you have this need helps you to work through the habit.

How can the Enneagram be incorporated into the adult-child relationship in families without making drastic changes?

By observation. Simply taking the information and becoming aware of what you do goes a long way to make gradual changes. For instance, you may be the type who always needs to be social and busy—it’s just the way you are. Realizing that your child may not be the same as you and that they may need some quiet, alone time means rather than making them wrong, you can allow them what will nourish them. Another example would be a parent who is ambitious and driven. A child who doesn’t share their competitive spirit could be viewed as a disappointment. However, accepting their child’s other gifts, such as creativity, kindness, or studiousness, for example, helps build their self-esteem rather than destroy it.

Are there any limitations of parenting using the Enneagram?

Only when it comes to typing your child. Children can mimic other kids’ behavior so that what you believe to be a type Seven may be your Nine child merging with their friend’s behavior. When it comes to typing your child, I’d keep an open mind and your thoughts to yourself. Telling a child what they are (or anyone in fact) can be damaging. Let them develop and discover themselves in their own, unique way.

About the Author interviewed in Parenting Pointers: Using the Enneagram

Ann Gadd is an accredited Enneagram practitioner (iEQ9 certified), holistic therapist, artist, and journalist. A professional member of the International Enneagram Association, she offers Enneagram workshops for beginners and advanced students. Ann is the author of 35 books, including The Enneagram of Eating, Sex and the Enneagram, and a series of Enneagram children’s books. She lives in Cape Town, South Africa.


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