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.

Roles 

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. 

Diplomats (82%) 

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 (79%)

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.

Analysts (68%) 

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.

Strategies 

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.

Conclusions 

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.

You can see the full set of data, including correlation coefficients, in the Academy. Please also consider participating in our Member Surveys!

3 months ago
I do honestly want to have kids and be a parent, but I also want to adopt, I am not really into the idea of having kids biologically which is a weird think I know, but that is my opinion. I am also pretty scared to have kids which is not really normal for someone who is an assertive type like me, but that’s only because I think I’m not prepared for it yet unlike other people.
3 months ago
I have thought about having children in the future many times, and the answer is still no. The cost of raising a child is a minor thing. But the biggest issue is that I'm not a family kind of person, and I don't know how to raise a child properly.
3 months ago
Here's the funny thing - I am ENFP/J - T (pretty close on those two) and I don't really want to have kids, at least not soon. I mean, I do, but it's certainly not my first dream. I want to travel a bunch, work on some movies, write some books, live alone (with a large friend group, of course :) ) and unhampered in that regard for a while. Anyone else like this?
3 months ago
As an INFJ-A I'm really happy with this. I find that this; ”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.“ is true. However, I am against having kids, having children, because that brighter, better, bigger, future is not here, not now. I don't want to have kids knowing that they will grow up knowing that I can hardly pay the rent for a lousy apartment. I don't want them growing up knowing that the tuna I am currently putting on their sandwiches was the last bluefin tuna in the ocean. My mother said something to me the other day. She told me that when you're a parent and you have a lot of kids, there are some things – like sustainability, and buying reusable shopping bags – that you don't have the time, money, or energy to do. That scared me. It scared me because that was just a small simple thing. And she couldn't do it. It made me think a lot about having children. How can I make the world better for my kids when I don't have the time, money, energy to do so? I'm an INFJ, I'm an Idealist, I'm an advocate for sustainability, ecology friendly, environmentally friendly things. I'd rather make the world a better place for my nieces and nephews, for the people next door, for the children down the road, in the next country, continent. I'd rather at least try to make the world a better place and sacrifice the opportunity to have a child then have a kid and not be able to do anything. How many more lives would I be affecting?
3 months ago
As an INTJ, I was relieved to see my type is among those who least want children. I was never into playing dolls or house as a kid, and now in adult hood the thought of being around children all the time and being responsible for them frightens me. It's good to know there's nothing wrong with me and that there are others with similar views.
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