an amazed curiosity to support the child's own unfolding. In child rearing, only one thing is certain: children will develop in unexpected ways. If parents try to block the child's natural unfolding, they will not succeed. The unfolding will not stop but merely become distorted and neurotic. It is therefore always best for the parent to observe the child's type (with its innate gifts and capacities) and to elicit the best aspects of the child's type rather than try to change him or her into someone fundamentally different from who he or she already is.
What needs to be said right away in any discussion of parenting is that parents do not create a child's personality type. All Enneagram teachers and researchers agree that personality type is built on temperament and that, in ways we do not fully understand, this is inborn. A child comes into the world with his or her personality type already determined by prenatal events, although we do not know what all of these are. There are theories that type is determined by genetics, by in utero events, by the emotional state of the mother, or even by past lives and the need for a soul to be a certain type to learn the lessons of that type. But the truth is, we really do not know all of the causes of type.
This is not to say that early family conditions and parental influences are not important: far from it. While they do not cause type, they highly influence how emotionally healthy or unhealthy a child becomes. A child who is fortunate enough to be born into a family of well-balanced parents will start life as a relatively healthy example of his or her type. Conversely, a child who is born into a relatively dysfunctional family will have to close down his natural openness, spontaneity, and vitality and need to erect defenses against the various forms of violation that exist in the family. In the authors' terms, one child will be at a healthier Level of Development, while the second child will grow up at a substantially lower, unhealthier, Level. Hence, the second child will have more emotional challenges than the first child.
In short, parenting does count—not to produce a personality type, but to influence how healthy a child of that type will be. It is therefore not difficult to see that when parents work on themselves through psychospiritual tools such as the Enneagram, they are not only doing something good for themselves, they are making possible one of the greatest gifts they could give their children—an emotionally healthy childhood and a happier future. Parents who help their child develop self- esteem, emotional stability, open curiosity, trust in self, an enjoyment of life, strength and self-confidence, easiness with themselves, the ability to regulate themselves, and empathy for self and others (qualities found in the nine types) set the stage for the development of all of their child's potentials and future accomplishments.
One of the most useful areas for parents to become aware of is the differences of fit between themselves and their children. Not every child will be an easy fit for every parent. If two parents are highly energetic, sociable, and extroverted, and their child is quiet, serious, and reserved, the fit between the parents and the child can become strained. The child may unconsciously feel that he or she is a disappointment to the parents, which can cause serious emotional difficulties for the child. The parents might try to manipulate or pressure the child to be more like them. Or they might feel guilty or inadequate for not understanding their child—or even for not completely liking and enjoying their child.
Differences of fit between parents and children can become more clearly understood with the Enneagram. This is not to say that understanding alone will be enough to undo any potential problems. But without insight and understanding there can be no solution to problems. Above all, parents need to see their children not as their possessions to be molded according to their own emotional needs but as independent beings who have their own value and are worthy of being treated with dignity and respect.
One of the main facts of life that we all have to learn is that our happiness depends on the quality of our relationships. We do not thrive in isolation. Having good relationships with intimates, friends, family, and coworkers—with everyone we meet and interact with—is necessary if we are to be happy and fulfilled.
Our relationships are also a bellwether of our emotional and spiritual health: the degree to which we can have healthy, growing relationships mirrors the degree of our psychological functioning as well as our spiritual maturity. It is very difficult for a demanding, fearful, grasping person to have satisfying relationships, whereas a gracious, accepting, and compassionate person most often does. Our own Level of Development (which measures our degree of awareness, non attachment, and freedom from destructive reactions) is the surest gauge of our ability to have and sustain relationships—and to give as well as receive in them.
The Enneagram can help us become much clearer about our relationship values, expectations, communication and argument styles, thinking and decision patterns, ways of resolving conflicts, fears, defenses, and various coping mechanisms—to name just a few of the elements that affect relationships. These apply to marriage, friendships, and professional relationships—to all kinds of interactions. Each personality type thinks differently, has different values and approaches, and wants different things in a relationship. Furthermore, beginning in the average Levels, each type has its own set of issues that make compatibility with other types either more or less difficult. The compatibility strengths and weaknesses for all 45 combinations of types can be described for each (for example, we can talk about what issues Fours and Ones will have, as well as those for Fours and Twos, Fours and Threes, and so forth for all type combinations.)
Good relationships depend on our being able to understand ourselves and others, to see our own needs and the needs of others, and to accept the legitimacy of others' viewpoint while expressing our own. In short, we must be able to treat others as we wish to be treated, even if we have not been treated so well in the past ourselves. Our relationships therefore become the opportunity to revisit the past and to transform ourselves according to more conscious choices in the present.
|What Each Type Looks for in a Relationship—and What Interferes
What they look for- Shared purpose and values, equality, fairness, integrity.
What gets in the way - Insisting on being right at the expense of their connection with the other. Manipulates by correcting others—and by playing on their sense of guilt and inadequacy.
What they look for Emotional connection, intimacy, warmth, affection.
What gets in the way Insisting on exclusivity and ever more closeness. Manipulates by finding out others' needs and desires and by creating secret dependencies.
What they look for Social suitability, competence, admirability, attractiveness.
What gets in the way Insisting on career and social status before the relationship. Manipulates by charming others and by adopting whatever image will work.
What they look for Communication, listening, acceptance, emotional honesty.
What gets in the way Insisting on having all of their emotional needs met immediately. Manipulates by being temperamental and making others walk on eggshells.
What they look for Curiosity, intensity, involvement, non-intrusiveness.
What gets in the way Insisting on personal space and non-interference. Manipulates by staying preoccupied with ideas and projects and by detaching emotionally from others.
What they look for Commitment, dependability, shared values, solidity.
What gets in the way Self-doubt and reactivity: vacillating between need for closeness and need for distance. Manipulates by complaining and by testing others' commitment to them.
What they look for Stimulation, adventure, excitement, variety.
What gets in the way Insisting on postponing making commitments. Manipulates by staying upbeat and hyperactive and by insisting that others meet their demands for gratification.
What they look for Dependability, loyalty, strength, sexual compatibility.
What gets in the way Insisting on maintaining control of others. Manipulates by dominating others and by demanding that others do as they say.
What they look for Comfort, peace, harmony, stability.
What gets in the way Insisting on not acknowledging problems and remaining neutral in conflicts. Manipulates by "checking out" and by passive-aggressively resisting others.
We must always remember that the primary use for the Enneagram is for self-discovery and personal growth. The Enneagram helps bring to light what was formerly hidden from us—to "make the unconscious conscious," as Freud put it. From a spiritual perspective, the purpose of the Enneagram is to point out to us the patterns of distortions and illusions that we mistakenly take to be ourselves. It is a tool for self-realization and self- actualization—for clarifying our psyche so that it can be given up in a surrender to the Divine.
The nine types are detailed reminders of our "waking sleep" (as Gurdjieff taught), of "who we are not," rather than identities that cause further attachment to our ego and the perpetuation of our illusions and suffering. As such, the personality types are really catalogues of our own particular case of mistaken identity, and they contain a considerable amount of bad news for our egos. But if we look deeper, we can also see that there is in the Enneagram an implied invitation to stop our self-destructive patterns by seeing them more objectively and compassionately. Our waking up is the beginning of the process of transformation.
|Each Type's "Wake-Up Call" and Movement toward Liberation
Awareness of feeling a sense of personal obligation to fix everything themselves—so that they can rise to a profound acceptance of and genuine tolerance for reality.
|Awareness of believing that they must go out to others to win them over—so that they can rise to unconditional love of self and others, irrespective of others' reactions to them.
|Awareness of always driving themselves to be the best and to get validation—so that they can rise to genuine embodiment of real values and an authentic expression of who they really are.
|Awareness of holding on to and intensifying feelings through the imagination—so that they can rise to a self-regenerating connection with reality and endless creativity.
|Awareness of withdrawing from reality into concepts and mental worlds—so that they can rise to a profound and objective understanding of how reality really is.
|Awareness of becoming dependent on something outside the self for guidance—so that they can rise to become grounded in their own inner guidance and feeling of endless support.
|Awareness of feeling that "something better" is available somewhere else—so that they can rise to a true resting in the moment and a joyous celebration of life.
|Awareness of feeling that they must push and struggle to make things happen—so that they can rise to a true self-surrender to something greater and more lasting than themselves.
|Awareness of the tendency to accommodate themselves outwardly to others—so that they can rise to a genuine remembering of themselves and their own strength, value, and dignity.
Awareness of the tendency to accommodate themselves outwardly to others—so that they can rise to a genuine remembering of themselves and their own strength, value, and dignity.
The Enneagram helps us take concrete steps toward recovering our True Nature, our spiritual selves. But even the most dedicated spiritual seekers generally do not go from a genuine spiritual realization to a permanent transformation without a lot of significant Inner Work over a long period of time. Old patterns of behavior, beliefs, attitudes, values, defenses—and much else—must be exposed and clarified in our psyche. This is not a short, all-at- once process, and one encounters many obstacles and paradoxes along the way.
Yet here again the Enneagram can help to make traveling the path of self-knowledge surer. By exposing the psychospiritual obstacles presented by our type, it makes working with them clearer, especially if we see them in a larger context. By reminding us to bring awareness to the moment, it helps us see our behaviors and motivations, fears and desires, attitudes and defenses in action. By observing ourselves in the moment, we learn to reverse the hidden, self-defeating mechanisms of our type. By fully acknowledging and staying present to our fears, hurts, and cravings without acting them out or repressing them, we discover who we really are and find our inner strength—and a way out of our problems.
If we stay awake to our inner states, even to our suffering, quite miraculously, things begin to shift. We find that life becomes easier, because we can use our time and energy for living creatively rather than wasting them on internal turmoil and conflicts. We also discover that, once our unconscious, automatic patterns start dropping away, we become free of older, limiting identities. We then naturally find ourselves drawn to healthier ways of living and relating—and to a felt sense of our own dignity and the dignity of others.
As we move into a new millennium, we recognize more than ever the vital importance of waking up. By this, we mean not only waking up to the truth of what our personality is up to, but just as important, waking up to the majesty of our depths, to the riches of the spirit. For real change to occur in the world and for human beings to discover their common humanity, there must be real transformation first in each individual so that we can become vehicles of Consciousness. Only by more human beings becoming more deeply conscious will we escape from our self-destructive impulses. This can only happen one person at a time, beginning with ourselves, here and now.
It's commonly accepted that the Enneagram type has both a genetic component and an environmental component and it's their interaction that decides the final typology. This theory states that there are three major innate orientations of the personality and that we are all born with one of them prevalent over the other two. Furthermore, it suggests that each of the nine Enneagram types is a consequence of the way in which the child's preferred inborn orientation (the hereditary component) interacts with the one that their parent - or main caretaker - has towards them in the forming years (the environmental component).
Three Basic Orientations
The three orientations are an expression of the Law of Three, on which the entire Enneagram concept is based. This law states that there are three kinds of forces that act in the human nature - the Active force, the Responsive force and the Neutral force and that each person is born with a natural preference for one of them.
These three forces are similar to the Hornevian Groups (Assertive, Compliant and Withdrawn respectively), but they are used here in a different context, to describe inborn traits and parental styles rather than established personality.
Here are the associated traits for each basic orientation:
Active: demanding, assertive, bossy, outspoken, intimidating, egocentric, expressive, willful.
Responsive: supportive, responsive, engaging, affectionate, friendly, sympathetic, cooperative.
Neutral: avoidant, withdrawn, indifferent, apathetic, absent, reserved, ignoring, neglectful.
Apparently, each child comes into the world with one of these predefined attitudes toward their environment and each parent will address their children with a certain parenting style, which can be, but isn't necessarily determined by their Enneagram type.
Any Enneagram type can use any of the three orientations to attend to their children. For example - an Enneatype 5 can be a Responsive parent, an Enneatype 8 might use a Neutral approach with their offspring, while an Enneatype 1 may lean towards an Active style. What determines the environmental component of a child's future type is not necessarily the main caretaker's type, but rather their particular approach to relating to the child.
Nine Interaction Scenarios: Child vs. Parent
Here are the 9 childhood scenarios that correspond to each of the 9 Enneagram types.
Active child vs. Active parent
This scenario is thought to produce Enneagram type 8.
The child and parent experience open conflicts on a regular basis. They both have different agendas and oppose each other, thus giving rise to power struggles and explosive arguments. The Active parent is impatient and intolerant of the child's rebellious nature and tries to impose his will in an authoritarian fashion. The Active child, on the other hand, becomes aggressive, argumentative and persistent in getting his own way. The relationship becomes a sort of battlefield, which is how the child will later perceive the world around him (type 8).
Such a childhood scenario encourages the child to develop a keen eye for spotting other people's weaknesses and a thirst for imposing their will in an overly aggressive fashion. They learn to be assertive, strong and deny their fears and feelings of intimidation. These are the traits they needed to have in order to stand up to their domineering parents and still keep their own Active inborn approach.
Active child vs. Responsive parent
This scenario is thought to produce Enneagram type 7
The demands and concerns of the Active child are usually received with benevolence and a supportive, encouraging attitude. This creates a tolerant environment in which the child can express himself openly and receive attention without much effort from his part. The Active child becomes self-confident, carefree and expects his interactions to be positive and favorable to his needs. The Responsive parent is sympathetic and loving, thus stimulating the child's playful, self-expressive side and giving him a good deal of personal freedom.
This childhood scenario promotes a cheerful, optimistic type who knows how to charm and manipulate others into easily getting his way. Entertaining and expressive, such a child may later expect instant gratification for all his needs and desires and avoid investing time and effort into long-term goals.
Active child vs. Neutral parent
This scenario is thought to produce Enneagram type 4
In this relationship, the child usually tries to grab the attention of an indifferent or absent parent, by expressing himself with increasing intensity, until a response is achieved. The Active child may act in a dramatic, exaggerated manner, attempting to get his message across to the unconcerned caretaker. The Neutral caretaker will typically ignore the child's emotional needs, making the youngster feel frustrated, misunderstood and possibly abandoned. Sometimes the child turns these negative feelings inwardly, believing that they are unlovable and not special enough to deserve attention.
This scenario teaches the Active children that they are different than other children that seem to be getting the support they lack. They want to make themselves heard so they amplify their feelings, resorting to dramatic expressions of their emotions. These children may later become overly sensitive, artistic and theatrical, but also melancholic, self-loathing and depressive.
Responsive child vs. Active parent
This scenario is thought to produce Enneagram type 1
This interaction is generally centered around the parent's agenda, to which the child will subscribe in order to receive the desired approval. The Active parent will be demanding, dominating and will criticize any perceived "bad" behavior. The Responsive child, on the other hand, is unusually sensitive to criticism so he will try to adjust and adhere to the parent's values and perspectives, by being obedient, well-behaved and an altogether "good kid". This attitude will help him build the desired rapport with the fastidious main caretaker.
With time, the child will learn to put aside his real needs and wishes in order to do the right thing, to be correct and morally ethical. These types will prefer to have a clear set of standards and rules to adhere to and will only feel worthy and lovable when they live a righteous life, in accordance with their upstanding principles. Their parents taught them that acceptance comes only through obedience and discipline.
Responsive child vs. Responsive parent
This scenario is thought to produce Enneagram type 6
This child will usually establish a very close relationship with his caretaker and will tend to become dependent on the nurturing, affectionate figure that offers him support and understanding. A strong desire for harmonious relationships is created and the Responsive child will reject and feel threatened by conflicts and lack of stability. Such types will seek playmates and groups that share their values and interests and will take an 'us against the world' stance, typically towards unfamiliar people and circumstances.
These Responsive children will prefer to play by the rules in order to keep themselves safe from any disharmony that will endanger their comforting, supportive relationships. They will be playful, endearing and loyal to their chosen groups and intimates, while at the same time remaining alert and vigilant to avoid any conflicts and hidden threats. Suspicion of other people's motives can arise as a protection from abandonment and rejection - they are in fact very afraid of losing their safe, nurturing grounds.
Responsive child vs. Neutral parent
This scenario is thought to produce Enneagram type 2
In this case, the Responsive child will act in a pleasing, appealing matter but will most likely encounter an indifferent attitude on the part of the Neutral parent. Confronted with this apathy and lack of interest, the child can only resort to becoming even more pleasing and irresistible to the parent, until he manages to break through the shell of indifference and obtain the desired rapport. Such types will be helpful, empathetic, lovable and attractive and will have a knack for getting on the same wavelength with their parents - they know when and how to approach them in order to obtain their attention.
Growing up, the Responsive children will learn to intuitively sense and assess other people's moods and will know exactly how to fulfill their needs in order to be appreciated and loved by them. They have a wide repertoire of seductive behaviors and know exactly which approach to use in order to successfully engage others into a close relationship.
Neutral child vs. Active parent
This scenario is thought to produce Enneagram type 9
The Neutral child is often overwhelmed and frightened by the controlling, domineering Active parent. Lacking self-assertion skills, he prefers to withdraw and stay out of the way, minimizing his own needs and avoiding the parent as much as possible. On the few occasions the child reaches out to the caretaker, he ends up feeling rejected and bullied around for no apparent reason, which causes him to withdraw again. The loneliness, however, also feels like rejection and soon enough the youngster will be ambivalent towards both being alone and being with others.
Most of the time, a compromise will be made. This type will seek out company but will not invest themselves in it, preferring to keep in the background and go with the flow, partly removed from their actual situation. When alone, they will avoid introspection, which will bring about old feelings of depression and rejection, instead they'd rather numb themselves out with food, TV or other unimportant routines to avoid emotional pain.
Neutral child vs. Responsive parent
This scenario is thought to produce Enneagram type 5
In this relationship, the Responsive parent is inclined to give a lot of unrequested attention to the Neutral child, who perceives his parent's supportive and affectionate attitude as a form of smothering. The youngster will tend to withdraw from his environment, preferring solitary activities and contemplation, but as opposed to the previous scenario (of type 9), loneliness will not be accompanied by a feeling of rejection. At the contrary, being alone is a matter of choice and it gives a feeling of security and well-being, knowing that there is always someone to communicate with when they decide to seek out company.
Such children are genuine loners, who prefer and enjoy their solitude. They are introspective, insightful and love learning and discovering things on their own, usually rejecting any help or intervention from the outside. They are afraid of being intruded upon because their parents used to make a fuss over them and suffocate them with attention and demands for closeness.
Neutral child vs. Neutral parent
This scenario is thought to produce Enneagram type 3
This Neutral child's solitude is encouraged by his parent's own withdrawal and indifference, which doesn’t necessarily make the Neutral child feel openly rejected, but rather intrigues and challenges him. Serious, focused and rather unemotional, this youngster will most likely try to fulfill his occasional need for attention by impressing his parents with outstanding accomplishments and high aspirations, which make him feel worthy and valuable in their eyes.
Later in life, these children become motivated achievers who put great emphasis on results, performance, efficiency and a successful image that will make others appreciate and admire them. Deep inside they dislike being ignored because it makes them doubt their own value, therefore they tend to hide their weaknesses and flaws and project a desirable, attractive, "I-have-it-all" persona.