Parenting is hard. It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done, and thus I’m constantly looking for resources to help me understand healthy ways to do this nebulous thing of raising another human. As an Enneagram student and teacher, I’m fascinated by how each Type approaches parenting, and how this ancient wisdom tool can help us all become more aware, more loving, and more spacious with our children and with ourselves.
I follow the guideline that most master Enneagram teachers advocate: don’t Type your kids. Parents can always get things wrong and create a false reality/personality that children adopt, only to figure out later they aren’t the person you always told them they were. Bottom line: Typing children has the potential to create harm. But, I DO think the Enneagram helps us become healthier people and parents. It also gives us a “paying attention mindset” — watching the patterns of behavior, energy, and time orientation our kids are displaying, then utilizing our Enneagram knowledge to draw out well-rounded ways of being in our children.
An amazing Twitter thread that began between Kristel Acevedo and Gena Thomas about Enneagram Five womanhood and parenting (and many more Type Five voices) inspired me to reach out to both Kristel and Gena. Both graciously agreed to an interview! Welcome Kristel, we’re all thrilled to hear from you today!
Enneagram 5 Womanhood & Parenting
1. How do you as an Enneagram Five move about in the world? I tend to stick to spaces I feel comfortable in. New environments usually cause me to be more quiet and observant. However, once I am familiar with a space I feel freer.
2. Do you feel that being a woman and a Type Five has any distinct advantages and/or disadvantages? I like that I am observant, logical, and pretty balanced. To me, that’s an advantage because I don’t feel like I get swept up in frenzy.
3. If you identify as a WOC please tell us about your experiences. As a woman who is the daughter of immigrants and as a Type Five, I feel it is my duty to share my observations on topics that are important to me, especially immigration. I can share my views in a balanced and fair way, and also have the ability to listen to others. I think I do a good job, most of the time, of keeping my emotions in check when discussing my experiences as a WOC.
4. Talk about what gender means to you. Where do you feel most comfortable on the gender spectrum? What does this mean for your daily life, your work, family, and friendships? I identify as fully female, but I also think that I don’t carry some of the baggage of what some people believe a woman “should be.” Growing up, I saw my mom work hard outside of the home to break through glass ceilings. She never put her dreams on hold, but was still a loving (albeit, not very emotional) mother. She didn’t cook or spend her days cleaning up after us. I think it’s because of this that I didn’t feel the pressure to conform to gender stereotypes. I can just be who I am without thinking, “Is this what a woman is supposed to do?” I will admit that sometimes people have made me doubt the way I am naturally wired, but I have to believe that I am how I am for a reason. I spent a few years in my early motherhood trying to be a martyr. Once I snapped out of that and explored what best fits me as a parent, I could enjoy being a mom a lot more.
5. What is the hardest thing about being a Five woman? I’ve run into people thinking I’m emotionless. Or they’re not sure what to think of me because I’m hard to read. I’ve also been told that I look like I’m upset when in reality, I’m not. I have a hard time being with large groups of women that are all chatting away about something I’m not familiar with. I prefer smaller groups or one-on-one conversations. I also find that I get tired out easily. I try to keep my commitments low. What is the easiest thing about being a Five woman? In general, being observant and having the ability to bring a calming effect where ever I go.
6. What do you wish people knew/understood about women Fives? We are emotionally sensitive, we just don’t always show it.
7. Tell us a little about your experiences as a parent. How many children do you have and how old are they? Are you parenting with a partner or on your own? When in your parenting journey did you discover the Enneagram? I have two children. A boy who is eight and a girl who is six-years-old. I was a stay-at-home and work-at-home mom for many years. I began working outside the home when my oldest was in 1st grade. I’m married and thankfully my husband is a great dad! I discovered the Enneagram when my children were about five and three.
8. Talk about being in the Withdrawing Stance and being a parent. How do you deal with the dichotomy of these two opposing needs? I am lucky to parent with my husband who now understands my very real need to have time alone. He has learned to anticipate my need for alone time and will send me off to our room or to Starbucks so I can decompress. I find that when I have that time to myself on the front end, I can come back to my kids feeling truly refreshed and ready to talk, hug, sing, dance, and do all the fun mom things. I try to be fully present when I am with them, but I have also learned to let them know that I have my limits and that sometimes, “My brain is tired.” Thankfully, they have learned that when my brain is tired, it’s time for some quiet time.
9. How does the limited amount of energy that a Five has impact your parenting? I simply don’t have the energy to do all the things. That’s why we limit extracurricular activities and put a priority on family time at home. I sometimes feel bad that my energy is limited. But again, I’m thankful to be married to someone who has more energy than I do! Although as a Type Nine, my husband doesn’t have THAT much more energy! Do you find avarice creeping in on your relationships with your children? Maybe, regarding time, but honestly, not really. I realize that my time with them is limited and I want to make the most of it. Right now they are my top priority, but with each passing year they grow more independent and I know these needy little years won’t last forever.
10. How do you feel as a mother Type Five? Talk a little about the thoughts that run through your head, the feelings that skim through your heart, and the sensations that move through your body as you mother day-in-day-out. I love my kids, absolutely and without question. But I’m also not “obsessed” with my kids. I’m okay if I’m not there for every little thing. I’m not a helicopter parent. I don’t feel the need to do everything for them. I push them towards independence little by little each day. I am affectionate with them and tell them I love them all the time, because I know that it would be very easy for me, as a Five, to be emotionally cut off, and I don’t want to be emotionally cut off from my children. I have a Four wing and I think this helps me in my mothering. I’m moved by beautiful things, and I find my children to be beautiful. It’s easy for me to show them my love. I definitely have my limits when it comes to physical touch. I am okay cuddling for a limited amount of time, but I also like my space and feel panicked when I feel like my space is being infringed on. I also feel panicked when I feel they are throwing too many words at me for me to pick up. I crave silence and seek it when I feel my kids have pushed me to my limit.
11. Give us as any tips and tricks and life-hacks and sage advice as you’d like about being a Type Five mother. We will soak them in! What have you learned so far? I’ve learned that I don’t have to do it all. When my son was born, attachment parenting was popular. I exclusively breastfed him, cloth diapered, co-slept, etc. And I just about lost my mind. PPD hit me hard, and I was not enjoying being a mother. I wouldn’t even let my husband take over for a few hours because I didn’t trust him and thought I had to do it all. I learned that it’s silly to martyr yourself as a mother. I would much rather lean into the old phrase, “it takes a village.” Finding my village has made me happier and lighter. I love seeing my kids form meaningful relationships with other adults and teenagers. It doesn’t mean I love my kids any less just because I need a break from them. Being able to take breaks and do my own thing allows me to soak up the times we are together. I take my parenting responsibilities seriously, but I also want to have fun with my kids. That means we need to have some time apart so I’m not stressed out all the time.