In the early days of the “modern” Enneagram (1970’s), anyone who wanted to learn about it had to vow not to teach it to anyone else. Those in charge thought the world wasn’t ready for it.
When my book on parenting using the Enneagram came out in 1997 some feared parents would hit their kids over the head with it—or something. Eighteen years later, thousands of parents around the world have raised their kids with the help of “The Enneagram of Parenting”. Learning the Enneagram before having children encourages parents to embrace their child’s unique personality. Otherwise some will push their children to be replicas of themselves. The Enneagram instills caring, nurturing, responsibility and understanding in almost everyone who studies it, so there’s only the smallest chance it will be misused.
In 2007, I wrote and illustrated “Finding the Birthday Cake” for young children. I didn’t want the drawings to resemble kids they might know, so I used animals as characters.
Bird – Walter One
Puppy – Tina Two
Frog – Timmy Three
Horse – Fanny Four
Rabbit – Freddy Five
Cat – Stevie Six
Cows – the Seven Cows
Goldfish – Amy Eight
Dinosaur – the Ninosaur.
Tina Two, a puppy, wants to please, Timmy Three, a frog, makes great strides, and the skittish rabbit has a lot in common with 5’s. Amy Eight, the tiny goldfish, goes against the stereotype of her type. Stevie Six is concerned about safety:
Walter One is almost perfect, but he makes a pretty serious mistake by forgetting where he’s put the birthday cake he made for a party to be held that day. One by one, the animals join Walter to look for the cake in their own ways, true to type. They look forward to the party in typical ways, too: Walter wants the most perfect party, Tina wants the friendliest party, Timmy wants the most successful party, Fanny wants the most special party, and so on.
The Ninosaur lives in the wallpaper.
I don’t want to tell you who found the cake or who’s birthday it was. SOMEONE draws an Enneagram figure on an important element at the party, however, so the animals can learn about each other’s types. They end up knowing each one is loved for exactly who he or she is and the Enneagram helps them have the best party in the world.
The Enneagram is used in many ways, including in corporations or businesses where it helps assure the appropriate jobs and roles for people and shows employees how to get along with each other. “The Enneagram Made Easy” is the book most used for adult newcomers to the Enneagram. It’s over 150 pages long, while “Finding the Birthday Cake” is closer to 30 pages. Adults also like “Finding” so it can be used for adult newcomers who are extra busy and/or have short attention spans.
At the end of the book there’s some advice for parents (“Don’t tell you kids their type, let them discover it for themselves.” “Learn your own Enneagram type.” “Don’t rate one style as better than any other.” Etc.) There’s also a checklist parents and teachers can use to determine children’s types.
Please write firstname.lastname@example.org if you know a teen who would like to be on my panel of teens at the 2015 International Enneagram Conference in San Francisco next summer on Saturday, August 1.