One of my hobbies, along with singing and playing the flute, is delving into the intricacies of Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI). I belong to Facebook groups where we explore the parameters, joys, and challenges of the 16 types, especially the four Intuitive Feeling types (NFs).
This week, I found an excellent article on how children from the 16 types experience MBTI. If you follow our frequently-updated Facebook page, you may have noticed my post about it. (Don’t follow us on Facebook and wish to? Click here. To read the full article by Susan Storm, see here. If you are not familiar with MBTI and are curious to see what type you might be (or your children might be), see here.
Susan’s article is quite long, but very much worth reading. If you already know what type you or your child is, you may simply scroll down to find what she says about the challenges of the type.
What I am discovering as I study MBTI and the functional stack each type has is that the more you truly and deeply understand a person’s personality, through MBTI, the Enneagram types, or other means, the easier it becomes to navigate the sometimes tempest-tossed waters of a whole variety of relationships with others – including your relationships with your children.
Or did you ‘ever feel misunderstood as a kid? Like once, or maybe constantly, people just didn’t “get you”? Unless you’re raised in a family of people who are very similar to you (and even that can create some issues) you’re likely to be misunderstood at one point or another, or often.’ (From the first paragraph of Susan’s article.)
Some misunderstandings are relatively minor, but cause rifts between parents and children. For example, INTJ children (Introverted iNtuitive Thinking Judging) ‘are so internally focused on their thoughts and ideas, that they don’t care too much about “fitting in” with society as a whole. Because of this, they can often seem aloof or uncaring and may have a hard time gracefully navigating through the complicated waters of human interaction. They can care very deeply about their loved ones, but aren’t prone to be very demonstrative of their love. They may end up being berated by more feeling-type parents for their lack of social graces or because they weren’t nice enough to “dear old Aunt Lucy”. This can be a frustrating experience for INTJs who don’t see the practical purpose of small talk, social niceties, and pretending to be something they’re not.’
Other misunderstandings are very serious and potentially life-changing. For example, the INTP child (Introverted iNtuitive Thinking Perceiving) ‘are the most likely type to be misdiagnosed with autism or aspergers. The world often doesn’t see how insightful and intelligent these children are, and merely tries to force them into a mold that is more “normal”.’
As well as helping you better understand and communicate with your children, reading this article may elicit ‘aha’ moments as you reflect on your own childhood. As an ENFJ (Extraverted iNtuitive Feeling Judging) person, I remember clearly being ‘extremely sensitive to criticism’. I took ‘criticism extremely personally’ and as the article points out, did not feel loved after an argument with my mother and sisters. I also felt ‘tormented with ideas of abandonment.’ So as my parents didn’t know that they should ‘frequently express their unchanging love’ for me, now I can use this insight in my own self-care, along with other things I have learned as a consequence of studying MBTI.
Do you recognize yourself in these descriptions, or your children? One point to remember is that children are very much influenced by their environment and in a process of rapid change and development, so they do not always display clearly the characteristics of their personality type, depending on what is happening with them. Since stress tends to bring out the “shadow” or opposite type, a stressed-out ENFJ (or an ENFJ heavily influenced by a Sensing Thinking parent) may behave like an ISTP.