Are you a Spontaneous Parent or a Structured Parent? The MBTI has Helped Me with Parenting.

How the MBTI Can Help with Parenting?

Let me ask, are you a spontaneous parent or a structured parent? Does the image of weekends and weekday evenings enjoying the turf and sports tournaments make your heart sing? Or do you feel the heat of rebellion rising in your chest when you see your children’s packed iCal calendar? 

It really comes down to your personal preferences. 

Subtle personality preferences influence your parenting zones of engagement versus parenting zones of disengagement.  Read on…

On the Trajectory Coaching blog, I’ve wanted for some time to share with you why I think the Myers Briggs Step II Personality Inventory is an absolutely outstanding tool in personal development coaching and lifestyle design coaching.

Today’s post is written for the parents, many of whom I work with.

Many of my clients are parents and new mothers.   A large portion of them come to me seeking to claim back a bit of identity and undergo some personal development and lifestyle design.  Many of them also come to me gain a more in-depth understanding of who they are as a parent and the dynamics of their family.  Why they love one thing, but not another.  Why they engage with certain aspects of parenthood, and trudge through or even disengage with other elements of parenthood.

I love being trained in ontological coaching because we can dive deeper into the way a parent sees the world, understanding where their mindsets and framework came from, and which patterns they want to interrupt or shift. BUT I also love data and charts, and verified instruments as well, and so I added psychometric certification to my coaching credentials. The MBTI Step II (A more detailed analysis of personality) goes hand in hand with the ontological coaching.  Why?  It gives us a foundation to work from and a deeper level of understanding self.

During early parenthood, you find yourself becoming with alarming speed, a human doing.  Laundry, driving, feeding, getting up in the night.  The to-do list is quite extensive.  It’s not a bad thing – it is simply par for the course when you have humans who are at various levels of ability to dress and feed themselves.

It is a time of life when the fullness of parenting (human doing!) crowds out the other vitally important part.  Human being.  Who is the being in there, underneath all of the doing?  And how is that being showing up? Or are they even?

Depending on the stage of life that we are in, we have had some time to figure out our personalities and preferences outside of children and relationships.

One of the first things that we can do is get a working manual on ourselves, and from there deepen our analysis of why we do the things we do, why we are the people we are.

Personality science, specifically the MBTI Personality Inventory is based on what we naturally prefer to do.  Like preferring your dominant hand.  You can use both, but one is easier, more natural and less draining.  Preferences run along a continuum.

Draining versus energizing are hot-button topics for me as a parent because I am exhausted.  A lot.  Not just physically but if I am not careful, mentally and emotionally.  Aside from lifestyle, a lot of it comes down to understanding when I am operating in my zone of engagement, versus my zone of disengagement.

As a parent, my zone of engagement – my natural preferences and happiest “operating mode” in my outer life, is taking things day by day and seeing what opportunities the day brings for enjoyment with my kids.

I tend towards the “P” side of the continuum. I’ve instantly jumped on board the whole “underscheduled and unstructured” hashtag movement on instagram.  It appeals to me.

In the opposite direction is a greater preference for structure, organization, having things planned.  An ordered universe.  This is the “J” side.

This isn’t my natural, easy, preferred way of doing things.   As a parent though, I’ve had to get used to living my outer life this way and being around others who prefer this way (remember there is no right or wrong!)  I notice I am drained if I am highly scheduled, because it’s not easy for me.  Having that awareness allows me to maintain a balance.

I have become closely acquainted with my iCal because now we are balancing my husband’s shift schedule, one child in kindergarten untill lunch time, another child in preschool two days a week and a baby needing care.  There are birthday parties and organized activities and I am realizing that many activities need sign up months in advance.  In fact, I found out that our preschool required sign up 3 months ago and there was a 1 hour line up.  Say whaaaaat?

Definitely not a preferred way of operating for me!

While some people may love looking at a finely tuned calendar booked with activities, it actually makes me feel sad, restricted and trapped. Wild how differently we can all see the world, isn’t it?

There’s no “better” type in parenting, but once you know what your natural “energizing” preference is, you can make sure to honour that and balance it when you find yourself having to work, or parent, in the other side.

So guess what? I schedule in free, unstructured days. I try to keep organized sports/activities to a manageable amount for our “P” family.  We honour our need for spontaneous mountain adventures.

Many people tend to take the MBTI far too literally and become rigid and categorize themselves.  This is absolutely 100% not the point of taking this assessment.  It’s simply a way to understand what energizes us and what drains us.  What direction do we prefer to move toward?  What direction do we prefer not to move toward?

What is easy and natural to us and what is draining and more difficult?

Our type stays stable in adulthood, as long as it was accurately done, which is why I prefer the STEP II MBTI which breaks down our preferences into further facets so we can really understand nuances rather than lump into big categories.

Ultimately, we have to be able to show up in a world and work with people of all different types.

The instrument lets us know what other types are out there (hello empathy and understanding!) and levels up our self-awareness in our daily interactions and parenting.

It gives us the power to design our parenthood and lifestyles around what we love, because it gives us a feel for where we are most comfortable and most at ease.

But it also gives us some “hints” on how to solve the challenges we experience.

And in parenthood, there are many!

With my two toddlers, I’ve split them up to go do different activities in the past and I let them decide on a few options.  One, who has a preference for making decisions based on logic (T), gets excited about what the activity actually is.  My other toddler gets excited about who he gets to do it with and who will be there (F) and bases it on that.  I wouldn’t be able to pick up on these nuances without a sense of preferences in decision making, and in all honesty, I’d go for the logic-based activity decisions every time.  Knowing how to take in to account my little guy’s preferences has helped immensely.

I have a long list of stories and anecdotes that highlight personality preferences and personality type. I hope to share more of these with you on the blog.

If there’s a topic you’d like me to speak to, just drop a note in the comments!

With you in the pursuit of an elevated life,





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