What's Your Mothering Style?

MotherStyles uses a framework of personality type based on the work of Swiss psychologist Carl Jung and an American mother-daughter team, Katharine Briggs and Isabel Briggs Myers, creators of The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® instrument. According to this system, people have innate mindsets in four different areas: energy, information, judgment, and outer-world structure. To guess your personality type in parenting, answer these four questions:

1. Although you probably agree with some of each, which of these two descriptions sounds more like you? (Check one.)

Extraverted parents are energized by going, doing, interacting and experiencing. They are typically “in the know” and get children out to experience the world. Too much time isolated at home can make them feel shaky and ungrounded. They are uncomfortable with a child who is more of a loner and needs a lot of solitude.

Introverted parents are energized by solitude and time alone. They are observant, reflective and prefer one-on-one interactions. They know their children as individuals and provide them with “downtime” to unwind and recharge. Drained by too much interaction, they must guard their energy to make it through the day without exploding.



2. Which of the following two descriptions sounds more like you?

Sensing parents focus on details and specifics. They attend to practicalities and the here and now. Hands-on parents, they see to children’s basic needs and do concrete activities with them. They struggle to join in a child’s imagination or understand a child who is different. They can get stuck in a rut.

Intuitive parents focus on the big picture and possibilities. They quickly leap from facts to patterns and themes. They encourage children’s creativity and imagination, point up options and offer them choices. Drained by the nitty-gritty, they struggle to deal with practicalities and be realistic.


3. Which of the following two descriptions sounds more like you?

Thinking parents trust logic, objectivity and impersonal analysis. They let children do for themselves, foster independence and answer children’s why’s in order to fuel their rational development. They struggle to tune in to and be patient with children’s irrational feelings.

Feeling parents rely on values, feelings and personal information to decide. They strive to be physically and emotionally close, attuned to children’s feelings, and go to great lengths to make them happy. Seeking family harmony, they struggle to say no and be firm if it may cause conflict.


4. Which of the following two descriptions sounds more like you?

Judging parents are intentional parents who like structure, plans, limits, and order. They are adept at organizing day-to-day living so kids feel secure and don’t miss out. They aim to get things done, on time, and in the right way, but struggle to adapt to the unexpected, relax and have fun.

Perceiving parents take things as they come and keep their options open. They are flexible and spontaneous, and generally tolerant and accepting of children. They enjoy hanging out and can be relaxed about clutter, but struggle to do chores regularly and keep the house in order.


This brief quiz is not a validated assessment; it’s just a quick introduction to discovering your mothering style. In MotherStyles, we devote an entire chapter to explain each of these four dichotomies and provide a checklist of 15 mothering characteristics and 7 tips associated with each preference.



© 2013 Janet Penley