To Kid or Not to Kid: The Desire to Be a Parent by Personality Type
Do you want to have a child?
For some people, this is the easiest question in the world. Perhaps they’ve wanted to be parents since they played house as children themselves. Or maybe they’ve always known that parenthood isn’t for them. For other people, this question is difficult, triggering many contradictory thoughts and emotions.
We went to our community and asked who agreed with the statement, “You want to be a parent.” Here are the results by personality type:
Although, with every type, the majority of people agreed with our statement, there are clearly differences in opinion, driven mainly by the Nature and Mind aspects of personality. Let’s delve deeper.
Sentinels (83% agreeing)
Pragmatic and conscientious, Sentinel personality types tend to uphold social conventions, including traditional ideas about family. As a result, many Sentinels look to parenthood as a meaningful way to pass on their values and shape the next generation. These types create stable, orderly home environments for their children, and they may also have a strong interest in creating and passing down family traditions.
Not all Sentinels are equally interested in parenthood, however. Consider Logisticians (ISTJ) (66%), who are significantly less likely than other Sentinel personalities to want children. Why the disparity?
It’s possible that Logisticians’ Thinking trait motivates them to carefully weigh the pros and cons of every decision, including parenthood, rather than making an emotional decision or simply going along with what’s expected of them. Their Introvert trait may also predispose these personalities to seek meaning on an internal, individual level – for example, through personal development and learning – rather than through external, collective decisions, such as becoming a parent.
On the other end of the spectrum are Consuls (ESFJ) (89%), who were more likely than any other personality type to agree. With their warm and caring Feeling trait, Consuls feel drawn to serve as pillars of their community and sources of strength and stability for the people around them. So it’s hardly surprising that the majority of Consuls embrace the prospect of parenthood with enthusiasm. Consul personalities bring their greatest strengths – including their dependability and consistency – to raising children, and they may even view parenthood as their life’s work.
Diplomat personality types nearly matched Sentinels in their desire to have children, albeit due to likely very different motivations. As Intuitive, Feeling types, Diplomats are often starry-eyed idealists who find the world beautiful and fascinating, a perspective that they may wish to share with children. Diplomats might be drawn to the idea of creating a brighter future by raising their children to be kind, curious, and creative, with strong moral principles.
As with Sentinel personalities, Introverted Diplomats were less likely to want children than their Extraverted counterparts. Mediators (INFP) were the least likely Diplomats to want children, although they still agreed by a significant margin (76%). Because they’re so altruistic and often devoted to various causes, Mediators may worry about not being able to devote themselves fully to raising children, which could make them hesitant to become parents.
Explorers long to experience everything they can: activities, places, relationships, and, for many, parenthood. As with Diplomats, Explorer personality types may feel compelled to share their curiosity and passion with a new generation. Their Observant trait also makes them down-to-earth and calm under pressure, two skills that are essential for parenthood.
Many Explorers love to indulge the childlike side of their spirit, and they bring their passion for games, making believe, and exploration to parenting. The prospect of sharing new experiences with their children is meaningful and exciting for Explorer personalities. Entertainers (ESFP) (88%), for example, wouldn’t hesitate to don frilly garments for a tea party, and one can imagine the delight an Adventurer (ISFP) (81%) might take in arts and crafts projects with their children.
Among Explorers, one personality type stands out in the data: only 59% of Virtuosos (ISTP) expressed an interest in becoming parents, making them the least likely personality type overall to want children. Like Logisticians, Virtuosos’ Introversion and Thinking trait seem to make them less inclined to become parents. Given their need for space and alone time, Virtuosos may feel less driven than other personality types to bring children into the world. As Prospecting types, Virtuosos hate to limit their options, which may make them hesitant to have children but also hesitant to rule out the possibility altogether.
Overall, Analyst personality types were the least likely to agree that they want children – not surprising, given that this Role includes not one but two Introverted Thinking types. The disparity between Introverted and Extraverted Analysts is significant, with the latter demonstrating a much higher interest in having children.
Logicians (INTP) and Architects (INTJ) were among the least likely personality types to want children, with 60% each agreeing. Both of these types approach important decisions through the lens of rational analysis rather than emotion. As a result, they are less likely than many other types – particularly Feeling types – to experience a strong instinctual pull to have a child. The majority of people with these personality types nevertheless answered in the affirmative, perhaps because they would like to share their knowledge and their individualistic, independent worldview with a child.
When it comes to the desire to have children, Assertive personality types (81%), perhaps due to their natural self-confidence, were slightly more likely than Turbulent types (79%) to want to be parents, but the difference was ultimately not significant. As you might expect, however, the disparity between Extraverts and Introverts was notable.
People Mastery and Social Engagement (85% each agreeing)
As Extraverts, People Masters and Social Engagers may be somewhat more likely to want children because they are comfortable with strong external stimuli, from social interactions to busy, noisy settings. Child-rearing certainly entails a fair amount of this sort of stimuli, and rather than shrinking from it, Extraverts are excited and energized by it. In addition, Extraverted personality types may embrace an external, action-oriented approach to creating meaning in their lives, which could predispose them to wanting children.
Confident Individualism and Constant Improvement (74% each)
Perhaps because of their inward focus and their need for alone time, Introverted personalities are less inclined than Extraverts to want children in their lives. The busy, noisy, messiness of raising children can be exhausting for anyone, but especially for Introverts, who must have time to regroup and recharge in order to function at their best – and time and personal space are always in short supply when you’re a parent. While most Introverts indicated that they are willing to make the sacrifices required of parenthood, some may simply feel that concentrating on their friends, their jobs, or their communities is a better fit for them.
Having a child is a life-changing decision. Based on our survey, the Extraverted and Feeling personality traits tend to strengthen one’s desire to become a parent. On the flip side, Introverts and people with the Thinking trait were somewhat less inclined to have children. That said, these are patterns, not rules. Ultimately, whether or not to have children is a deeply personal choice, influenced by a multitude of factors.
What about you? Do you want a couple of rug rats, or are you childless by choice? Do you believe that your preference is related to your personality type? Let’s talk about it in the comments below.