Parent orientation to the enneagram

Our parents & the enneagram!

Our orientation towards our parents impacts our enneagram number.

If I had understood the enneagram when I was younger I would have been more aware of what was happening in my kids lives and parented with more wisdom.
It doesn’t mean my kids would have ended up with different numbers. Our enneagram number is a reflection of the story we develop in response to the nurturing and protective figures in our life.
No parent is perfect and we can all grow up in the same household with the same parents and have different enneagram numbers. But our number explains how we tried to find connection, love and security.
The more aware you are of what you needed as a child through the lens of the enneagram the more this will shape your own parenting.
Parent orientation to the enneagram

Ones are disconnected from their protective parent.

As a child they may have experienced the rules of the family as arbitrary, unfair, too strict or too unstable. These children felt they couldn’t rely on the guidelines and structure provided by the family.

2’s are perhaps ambivalent to their protective parent.

Perhaps, the protective parent was stressed, and this came over in authoritarian ways. The child felt the way to get close to the protective parent was by winning their affection and protection not confronting it. So they became little nurturers.

Sixes become connected with their protective figure.

The protective figure was the person who provided guidelines, structure, and sometimes discipline.

As children they wanted the approval of their protective figure and felt anxious if they didn’t get it.

As a child they found security and safety in rules, structure and authority figures.

Parent orientation to the enneagram

Fours are disconnected from both parents.

They don’t see themselves in either parent.  “I’m not like mum or dad.”  Lacking definitive role models fours turn inward to their feelings and imaginations as the primary source of information about themselves.

Fives are ambivalent to both parents.  

They were looking for a niche in the family system, a role they could fulfil which would provide them with protection and nurture.  Not finding it they withdraw into their thought world to find that something special to bring to the family table.


Nines are connected with both parents

They have powerfully identified with and incorporated into their psyches the agendas and issue of both the nurturing and protective figures.  

They use a lot of mental and emotional energy in keeping all these identifications in harmony as well as trying to find their own voice.

parent orientation to the enneagram

3’s are connected to the nurturing figure.

In the early years 3’s learn to tune into the hopes and desires of the nurturing figure. They learn what will produce smiles, approving looks.

A 3 learned how to perform, how to be seen as valuable and successful, how to be affirmed and get adoration from this connected relationship.

As a child sevens were disconnected to the nurturing figure. 

Sevens perceive there was a problem with their nurturing figure and they didn’t feel bonded with this person or feel the person was a safe and consistent source of nurturance. So they began to demand their desires be met through life’s great big adventure and their imagination.


As a child eights were ambivalent to the nurturing figure.

They didn’t strongly bond or identify with the nurturer but they also didn’t separate from them either. They learned they could maintain some kind of connection with the nurturing figure and fit into the family system by functioning in a role that was complementary to the nurturing figure.