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The Peacemaker


This week, I’m continuing the series on the enneagram types. And today’s type is

The Peacemaker, which on the enneagram is type 9.


What’s the Enneagram?

It's an an insightful tool that helps people to find who they are and what makes them tick. Also, how other people experience them and how to hone their superpowers. And we’re looking at it from a parenting perspective. So today is How to parent the peacemaker...


The peacemaker is a very different character from last months, challenger.

Rather than being confrontational, they’ll avoid it where possible.


This character is happy to go with the flow- do what others want to do. They derive their peace from knowing that those around them are happy or at least, content.


Their motivation is their need to keep the peace, and they blend with others to avoid conflict.


STRENGTHS

  • They are natural mediators.

  • They are unthreatened by people who hold strong or adverse perspectives.

  • They’re good at helping opposing people to find common ground.


CHALLENGING SIDE

They can find it to get in touch with their own needs, which means they shy away from taking the risk of posing their own opinion or standing up for themselves. It can be hard as a parent to see past their ‘kindness’ and find out what their true opinions and needs can be. We can over-look them.


Sound like your child?

Sound like you?

Sound like anyone you know?



You might use these words to describe them:


uncontrolling

laid-back

go with the flow

Kind

Selfless

otherly

Thoughtful

tranquil

Un-judgey

unhurried

Undriven at times

Lazy

Inertia

Easily distracted

Slow to make decisions


They won’t be all of these, but if a high percentage correlates to the person you have in mind, they could well be a type 9, A peacemaker.


And we need this type of person. If your child has these characteristics, I’m sure your friends have reassured you that they’ll always be a good friend to others. But all these strengths need to be harnessed in the right way so they don’t tip into self-forgetfulness or a tendency to be out of touch wth themselves. Their strengths need to be harnessed in the right way.


Let’s look at what some famous type 9s


  • Queen Elizabeth the 2nd

  • Regan

  • Abraham Lincoln,

  • Obama

  • Audrey Hepburn

  • Ariana Grande

  • Keanu Reeves

  • Billy Eilish


This is conjecture of course, but fairly well agreed on by experts on the enneagram.


So as you can see they can do great things with their lives. But, if they haven’t quite learned to hone their strengths or been guided by wise parents, their strengths can make a mess.


  • Here is what they can do with their strengths:

  • Type 9s can ...

  • Support others

  • Broker peace

  • Defend others

  • Respect other perspectives

  • Be the wind under people’s wings

  • They’re often unambitious and make a fantastic number 2.

  • See the good in others

  • Be a calming influence

  • And allow others to feel unconditionally accepted

  • Inspire and stand up for justice


And they tend to live in a place of gratitude and optimism


But they can also

Frustrate people by their lack of decision making - or those around them can feel the pressure to make the mutual decisions. Peacemakers can be hard to connect with if they won’t let their needs and feelings show. The peacemaker can give the feeling that all is well, when deep inside they might even be quietly angry and resentful!


A few years ago we were invited to apply for a scholarship for one of our children. The process wasn’t a small one, so I enquired about our child’s real chances. The school liaison made all the right noises and lead me to believe they our child was in with a very high chance. Once we had been through the whole process I realised that there were some criteria that would not be reached and we could have been spared the trouble and false expectation. The liaison meant well and enjoyed leaving us buoyed after every conversation. But in reality, it wasn’t a reality. It felt more like we were dealing with someone who preferred optimism to realism. A lovely trait, but not always helpful.


And so it is with 9s. Sometimes they’re so focussed on making others feel good, with all well meaning, they overlook reality and can leave people bemused. So that’s the area a type 9 could hone: To have the ability to feel safe to connect with their real feelings, even when they are not positive feelings or feelings of agreement. And that’s where we come in… parents can help to hone and mature their gifts.




And why this truth avoidance?


During early childhood we pick up all sorts of messages and these messages inform our behaviours - the choices we make from our core beliefs.

There are many small and seemingly incidental experiences in childhood that will have influenced a child’s thinking: maybe a scenario where they were encouraged to fight their corner or maybe a child had an unkind class mate and the parent or teacher said,

"Don’t make a big deal out of it. Let it pass”

At an influential age - experiences or advice from an influential person can form a view of the world and they use this information for their survival in difficult circumstances. In the case of The Peacemaker, they get by, by keeping quiet, avoiding trouble, letting things pass. Even if it means not getting heard or standing up for themselves.


Whatever upbringing you’ve had or offered your own children, no matter how wonderful, there will be small and big messages picked up that will form core beliefs.


Somewhere along the line, a peacemaker has worked out that they derive emotional peace from putting other people’s peace before their own. Laying low or makes life easier.


Do you know anyone like that?


They develop a habit of putting other people’s needs before their own. That can mean that sometimes they need to keep their own needs and desires to themselves, just in case they don’t get met.


It’s easier not to have feelings, than to be disappointed.


Becoming acquiescent in this way is what can be called their survival method. Not life and death survival, but the place where they can protect their own peace.

But as well as being their survival method, it is also their superpower!


They

are kind

don't have to be RIGHT don't HAVE TO WIN dont' have to push to the front


I wonder if Pumba, from the Lion King was a peacemaker.

– "don’t go back and face your life-calling, Simba! Hang out with us.

Hakunda Matada"


"Let it go, move aside, don’t be a trouble-maker" is the survival message of Pumba and of a type 9


And they can take that approach all the way through life. For good at times, but also for bad and the messy…


But, all to say that childhood has it’s challenges no matter who you are and how dreamy your childhood was. And the survival mode does help you through them. But in adulthood it shouldn’t be necessary to still be in that childish mode.


So the critical piece of the enneagram is to see what childhood story you’re still living in – And where the growth and maturity needs to addressed.


And the job of us, as parents, is to see if there are some characteristics that we can help our children to harness for good. So that their challenges, which have given them their superpower, are not used for self-defence or survival, but for good, strong mental health.


So what’s the motivation of a peacemaker?

What is it that they want?


They are looking to be avoid feelings of discord. They like to meet other people’s needs and avoid having needs of their own so they don’t feel disappointed because the discomfort of lack of harmony feels too big for them.


They’re wired to avoid disagreement of any sort.


There are other character types that share the peacemakers desire

. to bring peace

. to lay low


But it might not be their guiding force.


With an Enneagram 9, it’s this key motivating factor that defines them.



If you’re parenting a type 9 you may well feel conflicted about whether you want to step in and mature this child out of their lovely, otherly, seemingly kind and generous characteristics. There might be a niggle in you that feels they are too kind or easy at times, but the tension will be whether you want to tip the apple cart. If it’s a peaceful way of living, why challenge it.


Their teacher may say they’re a dream in class – helpful, agreeable and never causing waves. At home they may be acquiescent, low-maintenance and always bringing the peace. Why fix it?


But, if you’re anything like me and want your children to be deeply known, confident and secure then you could appreciate the value of seeing past their apparent motive – to bring harmony, all the way to their hidden underlying need. Because they do have one.


The peacemakers core desire is for people to want to know their opinions and hear their quiet voice among the louder voices.


They want to feel safe to express their opinions even if they differ from yours or people around them. They want to be heard, even when they don’t show it.


There’s so much more to a type 9 than camouflage-mode.

They have strong convictions and their own value set.


So in short

They’re laid back and kind, but their real feelings and opinions can be masked and the real person can get buried underneath everyone’s needs and they in turn get hidden. But at heart, they’re full of ideas and convictions.


So, if you’re recognising that you might have a peacemaker among your children let’s look at some ways that we can bring out the best in them.



How to bring out the best in a peacemaker


Well, fist we can celebrate their warmth and kindness, easy going agreeability. And enjoy the fact that they can bring harmony and help people to unite.


But in order to hone their wonderful skill-set,.


Let’s look at 5 ways we can parent the challenger…



These are great ways to parent in general, but they’re specifically powerful in parenting a child who may be a type 9 on the enneagram.



1 Help them to know themselves

They’re not lying when they agree with others, they’re just detached from their own needs. It takes some gentle perseverance to dig under the tender layers of harmony to get to their genuine perspectives. They may prefer to do that privately. They may need to build confidence that their parents and siblings won’t clash with them if they hold a varying opinion.


Practicing the art of validation will be your best parenting-move here. In all the small things, such as their preferred colour, cake, film, let them know that you could see why that could be, and be curious in a positive way. “Tell me what you’re seeing/liking/enjoying about that?”


This can carry to the bigger things too. If they have opinions about people or circumstances. Let them know that you find their opinion helpful, insightful, interesting, true for them. Let them know it’s a privilege for you to know their thoughts, eg. "I’m so glad you shared that. I’m going to reflect on that. I love that you think that way. Help me understand your thought process."


What we’re aiming for here is that this child doesn’t get their security from being agreed with.



2 Serve them

Share how it makes you feel to bless them. Share how it makes you feel – maybe it makes you feel closer to them, useful, or included …You can tell them that you know they’re more than capable, but that you want to do things for them.



3 Spot their small voice

They might venture in a question or statement to reveal their opinion and that’s their litmus test. Come back to them with acceptance. Or if you think a stronger character might shout them down, such as a louder sibling, return to the issue later and let them know that you value what they said.


Chat to the other family members about supporting that child to feel safe to have an opinion. Take time to listen to them, getting their opinion into the mix.




4 Don’t make decisions for them

We’re back to don’t solve here. Help them to have the courage of their convictions. To make decisions – they could be wrong decisions, but they’re THEIR decisions. If it’s safe to fail in your home and safe to process out loud, they’ll gain confidence.


Obviously, this needs to be a safe fail. I’m not suggesting anything too daring here. But where they’re growing, they may need encouragement. They might ask what you think they should do. Let them know you trust their judgement. Back them where you can, even if you have a better idea or a better way of saying or framing something, try to use their words, repeat them back to the child. affirm them and build their confidence in their own convictions. Be their coach, not their rescuer.



5 Extra encourage them to be peacemakers, to use their gift,

...but not to compromise their authenticity.


Get them comfortable with the word, ‘no’. It’s kind to let people know your boundaries. Confusing to say. 'yes', when you’d prefer to say, 'no'.


Help them to evaluate conflict. Sometimes, what looks like all-out war to them, could just be harsh banter. Try to get the kids and yourself to reflect after conflict and say where they thought it was on a scale of one to ten. I bet you’ll be surprised how differently everyone sees it.


Help them to see that peace isn’t entirely their responsibility. Whilst they have a fabulous gift. They can also get in the way when they’re faking peace instead of making peace.


Love doesn’t require agreement, it requires understanding.

If we have to agree or pretend that we agree in order to keep good relationship there’ll be a lot of lying going on or laying low.


I’m not a type 9, but I can see in our polarised world that there’s an unhealthy desire for everyone to agree – Covid, Donald Trump are good examples of opposing viewpoints that get nasty on line and uncomfortable around dinner tables. Those who don’t mind conflict make most noise and others lay low. Sometimes that skews the perceived real statistics. Brexit being a good example! So if you’ve ever found yourself keeping your cards to your chest so that arguments don’t break out, you’ll know how a peacemaker feels most of the time.


Agreeing is sometimes faking peace. And that might be ok over dinner with friends when it comes to religion and politics. Sure, lay low. But when it comes to connection and relationships, we know that awkward conversations can lead to genuine harmony when there’s acceptance of opposing opinions.


So preventing awkward conversations, ironically, can be actually preventing harmony. If we lead our children to listen well and agree to differ at times, it enables everyone to be seen and accepted and have the confidence to hold a contrary opinion with respect for others and self-respect.




In short, do all you can to help your children feel comfortable with their opinion, but keep an eye out for that child who feels they need to sacrifice theirs to pacify others. Help them to be heard and validated.


So those are 5 ways to parent a peacemaker. Responding to them in those ways will let them have their superpower and bring peace and harmony, but not at the cost of their authenticity. In that family culture they’ll learn to override their fear of conflict and experience genuine connection with people that agree with them…and with people that don’t!



Remember, that whilst I’m focussing on children, keep your antenna up for whether these characteristics are strong in yourself or people that you know so whilst you can help your kids, you can also be compassionate to yourself or others with this fresh understanding.














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