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5 big takeaways from a new study linking personality type to parenting style.

A new study linking personality type to parenting style yielded some interesting results.

Let's cut to the chase. What kind of parent are you?

Say what? GIF from "The Daily Show."

Don't worry, nobody is on trial here. The answer is simple — you're a good one. 


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But thanks to a new study from Truity, a company that specializes in personality assessments, we can learn how our personality types affect our roles as parents. 

We know parenting styles and personality types are related, but thanks to a new study, now we know how they're related. Photo from iStock.

The tool being used is the famous Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), which has its critics, but resonates deeply with a lot of people.

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In a nutshell, there are four dimensions on the MBTI, and the majority of us favor a side for each one. 

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1. Extroversion (E) vs. Introversion (I) — how one manages and replenishes personal energy
2. Sensing (S) vs. Intuition (N) — how one gathers and processes information
3. Thinking (T) vs. Feeling (F) — how one prioritizes personal values
4. Judging (J) vs. Perceiving (P) — how one organizes and structures daily life and work


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The end result is a four-letter code based on each of the four dimensions, and if you're unsure about your personality type, you can complete a free online assessmentThere are 16 possible personality types and you can learn more about each one here

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Truity took that information a step further by using a three-step questionnaire to find correlations between personality type and parenting.

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Here are five big takeaways from the study.

1. Each personality type has its own unique parenting strengths.

Yes, we all have our weaknesses as parents, too, but it's important to note that our personality types provide us with some pretty awesome strengths when it comes to raising tiny humans.

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Nothing is absolute. For example, just because "sensors" tend to emphasize traditions doesn't mean that "intuitives" don't. It simply means that the study found they focus their energies more on behaviors that come more naturally to them.

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There are so many different parenting styles out there, and one isn't better than another. But it's pretty cool to see how our personalities shape how we choose to interact with our children. 

All infographic images by Truity, used with permission.

2. It doesn't matter if you're a mom or dad, INFP parents are most likely to embrace the stay-at-home lifestyle.

It's important to note that the chart lists the percentages of women who are stay-at-home moms. Due to the small sample size of male respondents who are stay-at-home dads, the chart for men reveals the percentages of men who would like to be at home with their kids primarily. 

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Either way, INFP respondents (or introverted, feeling types) are the ones who tend to embrace the stay-at-home parent role more than any other type. 

Another interesting point is over two-thirds of the fathers surveyed said they would give up their day jobs to be stay-at-home dads. 

3. When it comes to rating their own parenting skills, extroverts gave themselves a lot of props. Introverts? Not as much.

Respondents were given a series of statements about parenting and were asked to rate their level of agreement on a scale from 1 (strongly disagree) to 5 (strongly agree). In almost every instance, extroverts rated themselves highest while introverts went in the opposite direction. 

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Here's a snapshot of the results. 

If you think that means all extroverts are better suited for parenting, think again.

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"Previous studies have shown that extroverts are more likely to express positive emotions in general," the researchers at Truity said. "We can expect them to score more highly on any measure where they are asked about emotions such as happiness and joy."

4. Feelers prefer having kids more than thinkers do. And some personality types just don't dig the whole parenting thing at all.

OK, so it's too late now for those of us who are already knee-deep in parenthood, but in case you're wondering how personality type correlates to the desire to have kids, this section is for you.

And for the comedians out there — they didn't conduct research on the "do have, don't want" category.

Of all of the personality types, INTJ responders were the most likely to say that they never wanted children. 

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Why?

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Truity interviewed a few INTJ respondents to get their thoughts on the topic. One INTJ father of four had this to say:

“As an INTJ, being free and able to grow and learn is very important to me, so being a parent can be a challenge. I have to constantly carve out time for reading, thinking and quiet, which can be a real challenge. But, if I can find some maintenance time for myself, I can be a really good parent. If I don't my impatience with my children really surfaces.” 

That's not to say that thinkers can't handle parenting. They just need some "me time" every now and then. And let's be real — every parent needs some time to themselves. 

5. Sometimes surviving parenthood starts with surrounding yourself with people who "get" you.

For the people who choose to have children, it will be the toughest job they'll ever have. But it can be a little easier if they know there are others out there who experience similar joys and frustrations of raising kids. 

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"Most parents report that one of the best ways to cope with the struggles of parenting is to hear from other parents going through the same challenges," said the people at Truity. "In this respect, personality typing can be a unique form of stress relief for parents."

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Regardless of personality types, that is something we can all agree on.

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Connections Academy

Wylee Mitchell is a senior at Nevada Connections Academy who started a t-shirt company to raise awareness for mental health.

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Teens of today live in a totally different world than the one their parents grew up in. Not only do young people have access to technologies that previous generations barely dreamed of, but they're also constantly bombarded with information from the news and media.

Today’s youth are also living through a pandemic that has created an extra layer of difficulty to an already challenging age—and it has taken a toll on their mental health.

According to Mental Health America, nearly 14% of youths ages 12 to 17 experienced a major depressive episode in the past year. In a September 2020 survey of high schoolers by Active Minds, nearly 75% of respondents reported an increase in stress, anxiety, sadness and isolation during the first six months of the pandemic. And in a Pearson and Connections Academy survey of US parents, 66% said their child felt anxious or depressed during the pandemic.

However, the pandemic has only exacerbated youth mental health issues that were already happening before COVID-19.

“Many people associate our current mental health crisis with the pandemic,” says Morgan Champion, the head of counseling services for Connections Academy Schools. “In fact, the youth mental health crisis was alarming and on the rise before the pandemic. Today, the alarm continues.”

Mental Health America reports that most people who take the organization’s online mental health screening test are under 18. According to the American Psychiatric Association, about 50% of cases of mental illness begin by age 14, and the tendency to develop depression and bipolar disorder nearly doubles from age 13 to age 18.

Such statistics demand attention and action, which is why experts say destigmatizing mental health and talking about it is so important.

“Today we see more people talking about mental health openly—in a way that is more akin to physical health,” says Champion. She adds that mental health support for young people is being more widely promoted, and kids and teens have greater access to resources, from their school counselors to support organizations.

Parents are encouraging this support too. More than two-thirds of American parents believe children should be introduced to wellness and mental health awareness in primary or middle school, according to a new Global Learner Survey from Pearson. Since early intervention is key to helping young people manage their mental health, these changes are positive developments.

In addition, more and more people in the public eye are sharing their personal mental health experiences as well, which can help inspire young people to open up and seek out the help they need.

“Many celebrities and influencers have come forward with their mental health stories, which can normalize the conversation, and is helpful for younger generations to understand that they are not alone,” says Champion.

That’s one reason Connections Academy is hosting a series of virtual Emotional Fitness talks with Olympic athletes who are alums of the virtual school during Mental Health Awareness Month. These talks are free, open to the public and include relatable topics such as success and failure, leadership, empowerment and authenticity. For instance, on May 18, Olympic women’s ice hockey player Lyndsey Fry will speak on finding your own style of confidence, and on May 25, Olympic figure skater Karen Chen will share advice for keeping calm under pressure.

Family support plays a huge role as well. While the pandemic has been challenging in and of itself, it has actually helped families identify mental health struggles as they’ve spent more time together.

“Parents gained greater insight into their child’s behavior and moods, how they interact with peers and teachers,” says Champion. “For many parents this was eye-opening and revealed the need to focus on mental health.”

It’s not always easy to tell if a teen is dealing with normal emotional ups and downs or if they need extra help, but there are some warning signs caregivers can watch for.

“Being attuned to your child’s mood, affect, school performance, and relationships with friends or significant others can help you gauge whether you are dealing with teenage normalcy or something bigger,” Champion says. Depending on a child’s age, parents should be looking for the following signs, which may be co-occurring:

  • Perpetual depressed mood
  • Rocky friend relationships
  • Spending a lot of time alone and refusing to participate in daily activities
  • Too much or not enough sleep
  • Not eating a regular diet
  • Intense fear or anxiety
  • Drug or alcohol use
  • Suicidal ideation (talking about being a burden or giving away possessions) or plans

“You know your child best. If you are unsure if your child is having a rough time or if there is something more serious going on, it is best to reach out to a counselor or doctor to be sure,” says Champion. “Always err on the side of caution.”

If it appears a student does need help, what next? Talking to a school counselor can be a good first step, since they are easily accessible and free to visit.

“Just getting students to talk about their struggles with a trusted adult is huge,” says Champion. “When I meet with students and/or their families, I work with them to help identify the issues they are facing. I listen and recommend next steps, such as referring families to mental health resources in their local areas.”

Just as parents would take their child to a doctor for a sprained ankle, they shouldn’t be afraid to ask for help if a child is struggling mentally or emotionally. Parents also need to realize that they may not be able to help them on their own, no matter how much love and support they have to offer.

“That is a hard concept to accept when parents can feel solely responsible for their child’s welfare and well-being,” says Champion. “The adage still stands—it takes a village to raise a child. Be sure you are surrounding yourself and your child with a great support system to help tackle life’s many challenges.”

That village can include everyone from close family to local community members to public figures. Helping young people learn to manage their mental health is a gift we can all contribute to, one that will serve them for a lifetime.

Join athletes, Connections Academy and Upworthy for candid discussions on mental health during Mental Health Awareness Month. Learn more and find resources here.

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