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Old 04-28-2012, 11:28 AM   #1
forty-two
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Default Personality and ceding authority to parenting 'gurus'

Why some people "take things too far" when others "use common sense", "take what's good and leave the rest".

Everyone sees the world through the lens of their own personality. We can learn how others see the world and use that to better understand and communicate with them, but we can't ever truly see the world through their eyes - we can only approximate it, not experience it.

And so all parenting gurus write through the lens of their own personality, and we read them through the lens of ours. Some we resonate with, others we see some and some , and others leave us , depending on how well our personalities mesh (leaving aside content - we can really *get* something that we *loathe*, and can be entirely at something we think is probably good, if only we could make heads or tails of it ). We are capable of seeing subtleties, making fine distinctions, with our top functions, but our less differentiated functions are not capable of seeing as much nuance, acting with as great a range or flexibility. Our dominant function is a deluxe Swiss army knife; our inferior function is a hammer - everything's a nail .

And so an approach that works great for a dominant Ni (INxJ) might not make any sense whatsoever for a dominant Se (ESxP), and vice versa. Even if both are doing the same basic thing - AP or GBD, say - they will probably look at it differently and do different things, or do the same thing for different reasons. Which is great .

The problem comes in when we read/listen to a guru who advocates a vision or method that is entirely opposite to our personality and general approach to life, and instead of tossing her to the side as not applicable, for some reason we think her approach is The One True Way, and so turn ourselves inside out in an effort to apply it. Since we don't really *get* it, we can't tailor it to our own situations, we don't see the subtle variations in what people more suited to this approach do, all we can do is blindly follow and hope it works out as promised .

Of course this feels completely unnatural and wrong. And so people will often give up after a few days or weeks of this, chalk it up to temporary insanity, and go back to what feels more natural.

But sometimes people have very strong pressure, whether internal or external, to conform to this very unnatural approach to life. The vision or approach or guru is Right, by definition, and so if it feels unnatural and wrong, it must be because of *me*, because of defects in *me*. And so they persist in following an approach that they don't get, ignoring all the warning signs, desperately determined to become someone they're not because they believe they have to .

There's no way that ends well . Especially with inherently bad approaches, but even with otherwise good approaches used by someone who doesn't get them yet feels they *must* use them no matter what.

And it doesn't just happen with Christian punitive gurus . I've seen the same train wreck in unschooling circles, in classical hs'ing circles, in AP circles. While it's the worst in abusive dynamics, when one side *is* deliberately pushing it's way as the One True Way, and brooks no disagreement, it can happen accidentally when a self-confident person of one type influences a low-confidence person of a rather different type.

So it's something to be aware of even here on GCM - sometimes I see the beginnings of it in people who latch onto a given way of implementing GBD as the only way, and are determined to apply it even though they explicitly say they don't get it. And are encouraged by well-meaning GCMers to press on, trust the process, it'll all make sense eventually. There's a difference in the initial awkwardness stage of something new and going against oneself - I think we need to be watchful for that line being crossed, both in ourselves and others .
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Last edited by forty-two; 04-28-2012 at 11:37 AM.
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Old 04-28-2012, 11:34 AM   #2
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Default Re: Personality and ceding authority to parenting 'gurus'

I think that fits well with the idea of principle centered living. Figure out your principles and then with each new idea that comes along you'll have a baseline to compare it to. Make thoughtful decisions, after looking at all the factors, that support your foundational principles. Live by those principles instead of someone else's rules.
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Old 04-28-2012, 11:49 AM   #3
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Default Re: Personality and ceding authority to parenting 'gurus'

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Originally Posted by saturnfire16 View Post
I think that fits well with the idea of principle centered living. Figure out your principles and then with each new idea that comes along you'll have a baseline to compare it to. Make thoughtful decisions, after looking at all the factors, that support your foundational principles. Live by those principles instead of someone else's rules.
Yes and no .

Fundamentally I think that it is true that healthy people find a balance between what other people think is good and what they think is good, and thus compare new things that come along (whether from themselves or from others) with their baseline balance.

But doing so by finding ones' fundamental, foundational principles is a rather N, particularly NP, way of going about it, I think. I've seen waaaaaaaay too many mission statements written by SJs that *completely* missed the point. And those statements are then ignored accordingly - that's just not how they do things .

XSxJ is actually very well suited for taking others' rules and comparing them to their internal experience to figure out what to do. And telling them that's bad, what they *really* need is some internal principles instead of external rules, is perpetuating the very problem it was meant to solve .
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Old 04-28-2012, 12:30 PM   #4
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Default Re: Personality and ceding authority to parenting 'gurus'

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Originally Posted by forty-two View Post
Y

XSxJ is actually very well suited for taking others' rules and comparing them to their internal experience to figure out what to do. And telling them that's bad, what they *really* need is some internal principles instead of external rules, is perpetuating the very problem it was meant to solve .
I don't understand this part of what you are saying. (Keep in mind that I'm not very knowledgable about MB types).

It's sounds to me like comparing others' rules to their internal experience and comparing others' rules to their internal principles/values, is just a slightly different way of doing the same thing.
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Old 04-28-2012, 01:20 PM   #5
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Default Re: Personality and ceding authority to parenting 'gurus'

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Originally Posted by saturnfire16 View Post
I don't understand this part of what you are saying. (Keep in mind that I'm not very knowledgable about MB types).

It's sounds to me like comparing others' rules to their internal experience and comparing others' rules to their internal principles/values, is just a slightly different way of doing the same thing.
*Exactly* . It *is* fundamentallly the same thing. But it can look *very* different.

And I've seen firsthand how an ISTJ is somewhat bemused and feels less than by others' insistence on principles over rules - it feels different to her, and when she tries to explain it, she's told she's not seeing it right, that this new way is so much better. They probably meant well, but they saw rules as bad - following external rules against themselves hurt *them* so much, therefore they are bad for all - and so zealously crusaded against rules. The people who found value in the rules were clearly mistaken and had to be saved from themselves .

Thus perpetrating the very thing that hurt themselves so much .
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Old 04-29-2012, 02:19 PM   #6
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Default Re: Personality and ceding authority to parenting 'gurus'

I don't know anything about Meyers-Briggs, but IME people who hew strictly to childrearing systems of all types have anxious personalities. If they can just find some way to make the unpredictable predictable and the unquantifiable quantifiable--if they can just find a checklist, somewhere, that guarantees results--then the anxiety will go away . . . right?

Anxious people tend not to trust their own intuition, that fuzzy and un-pin-downable thing, so when the alarms start to ring, they just keep on doing more of the same thing to try to drive away the anxious feeling, because, hey, checklist. In addition, there is the phenomenon seen in victims of con games: if you can get the mark to invest enough in your scheme, they will very likely keep investing more, because nobody wants to admit that they wasted all that time or money or what have you.

Anxious people may end up following punitive and cruel child training gurus--some of the accounts at ezzo.info are so sad. They might end up as the exhausted parents of "indigo children" who are completely out of control. They might have years of their lives stolen by Scientology. It's all about trying to find the checklist that will make life easy and simple and free of fear.
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Old 04-29-2012, 02:33 PM   #7
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Default Re: Personality and ceding authority to parenting 'gurus'

The people I know in real life who have embraced formula-style parenting have been more anxious as a rule. As in, almost all of them. I don't really know if it's MB-related...but then again, I don't apply as much weight to those classifications as some other people do

My real life friends who have been all about being formula parenting, a la Ezzo, all were needing something, someone to tell them what to do to get the results they desired. I think books like the ones Ezzo has written prey on that nervousness and anxiety. There is no guarantee that if you do X, Y, and Z the way someone has spelled out that you would get results A, B, and C. For people who tend towards anxiety, that's often a train wreck waiting to happen. Especially when the results you desire don't happen.
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Old 04-29-2012, 03:53 PM   #8
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Default Re: Personality and ceding authority to parenting 'gurus'

I agree that people who trust an outside guru absolutely are searching for something, and willing to cling to anyone who promises it.

But I hesitate to label it as having an anxious *personality*. Anxious is a negative trait, and I do not like to label someone's personality - who they innately are - as being inherently bad . (That's why I like MB - it usefully describes people, but in a way that avoids labeling some types as "good" and other types as "bad" - *all* types can be healthy or unhealthy, do good or do bad.)

Which was my point here. Lots of people, of all types, are anxious about a segment of life, and are willing to latch onto a guru who promises them success. What makes some have ok experiences, some have bad experiences and some go completely over the edge?

My theory is that the better the person meshes with the approach, the more confident they become in using it, and the better able they are to use it, not let it use them. A bad approach is still a bad approach, but at least the person doesn't lose themselves in trying to follow it. They may trust the guru, but their internal alarms more or less mesh with the guru, so they can and do feel free to use common sense.

But the worse the person meshes with the approach - yet continues to use it - then the less confident they become in using it, thus causing them to cling even further to it, unable to make necessary distinctions that very well may have been obvious to the guru but aren't to this person, and so spiral down further. Their internal alarms are ringing, but since they never *stopped* ringing at any point since starting the program, they are incapable of telling how serious the problem is or even what it is. And so they go way too far, because since everything feels wrong, how can they tell when things are *really* wrong?

But it's not because their personality was inherently weak, but that it was inherently weak *to this specific approach*. Every personality has its weak points, and this person was unlucky enough to encounter something they were particularly vulnerable to at a time when they were susceptible to it.
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Old 04-29-2012, 04:04 PM   #9
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Default Re: Personality and ceding authority to parenting 'gurus'

I think the punitive people I know who follow "gurus" are very regimented and anxious, too.

Myself, I'm an ENFJ. I don't know what that means in terms of my chances for following a path rigidly or molding it to fit, but I think my own disturbed childhood has shaped me far more. I have never and will never join some type of armed forces, couldn't be in a sorority, will never choose to take karate or anything that has me bowing to another person, and preferred jobs where I self-regulated, because I can't stand authority. I'm fairly certain my political beliefs favor this as well. And my parenting beliefs follow this as well (and possibly that's another form of rigidity...? Hmm...)
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Old 04-29-2012, 04:17 PM   #10
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Default Re: Personality and ceding authority to parenting 'gurus'

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Originally Posted by DoulaClara View Post
I think the punitive people I know who follow "gurus" are very regimented and anxious, too.

Myself, I'm an ENFJ. I don't know what that means in terms of my chances for following a path rigidly or molding it to fit, but I think my own disturbed childhood has shaped me far more. I have never and will never join some type of armed forces, couldn't be in a sorority, will never choose to take karate or anything that has me bowing to another person, and preferred jobs where I self-regulated, because I can't stand authority. I'm fairly certain my political beliefs favor this as well. And my parenting beliefs follow this as well (and possibly that's another form of rigidity...? Hmm...)
Rejecting all external authority and clinging to internal authority is the flip side of rejecting all internal authority and clinging to external authority - both are rigid in their own ways, and I don't think either is healthy . (Not saying you are doing either .)

I do think an anxious internally focused person can latch onto a path - see it as The Answer - and cling to it against all external signs it's a bad idea. Which is *exactly* like an anxious externally focused person latching onto a path - seeing it as The Answer - and clinging to it against all internal signs it's a bad idea.

I was really speaking to both sides in my OP .

Eta: I do agree that Ezzo-style punitive tends to attract more regimented types. I don't think Pearls' brand necessarily does, though .
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Old 04-29-2012, 07:20 PM   #11
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Default Re: Personality and ceding authority to parenting 'gurus'

I tend to reject external authority as well... or at least, I don't accept any sort of authority unquestioningly So people like Dr. Sears who basically said, "Trust your instincts" and then gave me facts to make my own decisions with were the ones I listened to. Anyone who said, "THIS is the ONLY RIGHT WAY" pretty much lost me right then.

I wonder... I've also moved around a lot (oh so very much...) during my life. Maybe seeing that there are many different sub-cultures in the USA and many different ways of raising children (as well as doing pretty much everything else under the sun) also helped me to be more immune to the "MINE IS THE ONLY RIGHT WAY" types of gurus.

I'm not terribly versed in the different personality types so I'm not sure about that aspect of it, but I think the above is why I personally was able to avoid being taken in by those sorts of teachings. I also research everything to death - especially if I think it sounds like a crazy idea. Elimination Communication? Yeah, I thought it was insane when I first heard of a friend doing that so I had to go and research everything about it and I ended up EC'ing all three of my girls. That's more how I work - I don't usually just take someone's word for something.

I'm an INTj/p.
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Old 04-29-2012, 08:11 PM   #12
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Default Re: Personality and ceding authority to parenting 'gurus'

INTJ is known as the most independent type, and will definitely tend to fall on the "rejecting external authority in favor of internal authority" side of the coin. We probably wouldn't agree with someone just cause they said they were the awesome sauce , but if *we* think something's the awesome sauce, well... - sometimes we are *too* dismissive of others' contrary advice .

So if we go overboard, odds are we probably did it to ourselves . Certainly I tend to learn things the hard way .

And we don't tend to have a lot of sympathy for people who cede authority to others and get into trouble - personality typing's helped me get them a lot better, and what they have to offer .

---------- Post added at 09:40 PM ---------- Previous post was at 09:29 PM ----------

You know how some people will do things because other people are doing it? INTJs will often do things *because* no one else is doing it . You can see the pluses and minuses in this .

Although an insecure INTJ may very well latch onto the first idea that sounds plausible and defend it against all comers - this is exactly like how other insecure people will latch onto someone else's approach that sounds plausible and then defend it against all comers.

And in areas out of our depth, INTJ can be as prone as anyone to latching onto an expert and hoping for the best. But usually anything *we* implement, we need to understand in order to actually do it. (The flip side being that anything we don't understand, we won't do, no matter who it hurts .)

---------- Post added at 09:49 PM ---------- Previous post was at 09:40 PM ----------

I'm losing the thread of my point somewhat , but I think it's that healthy individuals balance internal input and external input, and different types concentrate on different input and balance the E/I input differently. And so different types will get out of balance in characteristic ways, with varying levels of bad results.

But if a type gets out of balance in an *uncharacteristic* way, though it doesnt happen as frequently, the results are far more likely to be catastrophic, either to the person or their surroundings or both.

---------- Post added at 09:57 PM ---------- Previous post was at 09:49 PM ----------

Anecdotally, when I was seriously depressed, I started by sliding out of balance in characteristic fashion. I was me, but an increasingly one-sided me. And once I was really hitting bottom, pretty much unable to function, I started being out of balance in *uncharacteristic* ways, ways that were entirely foreign to healthy me. I recognized they were "not me" but not just how severely they were not me (ability to recognize relative badness in a healthy way had flown out the window).

And when I started to recover, I lost the uncharacteristic ways first, but the characteristic out of balance habits were much harder to shake. But I could function with them.

---------- Post added at 10:11 PM ---------- Previous post was at 09:57 PM ----------

Also, a person can zealously follow someone else's system by choice.

I mean, for every person who is insecure and follows Ezzo because he and others say he is da bomb, there's someone else who follows Ezzo because *they* themselves think he's da bomb. So if they go overboard, it's because they were internally driven to do so, not because they were externally driven to do so. Because the person herself thought she needed to turn herself inside out, not that someone else told her to do so and she believed them.
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~ forty-two ~
Possessor of The Answer to Everything and Solver of (Somebody Else's) Problems

INTJ: introverted iNtuition with extraverted Thinking
DYT 4/2: connecting intellectually and emotionally
Enneagram 5w4: a need to perceive and to feel special


Wife to my pastor dh (INTP, 4/1) since 2003

Mother to:
dd8, 'R', INxJ, 1/4?
dd5.5, 'A', IxFP, 4/1?
ds3, 'J', Ixxx
and two in heaven: miscarried 10/29/04 and 01/01/05

Blog: Lutherama
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