Being Skillfull with Family

This year, due to Covid, you may have had fewer face-to-face interactions with your family than usual. Whether or not this is the case, learning how to be more skillful with family members is super important. We can pick our friends, but not our family. So, families are laboratories for learning what motivates each Enneagram type, and how to get along well with them.

Below is a description of family relationships/roles and ways to be skillful for each type from Kacie Berghoef and Melanie Bell, authors of The Modern Enneagram.


  • Enneagram Type One Reformers fill the role of family perfectionist, fulfilling parents’ expectations to the letter or instilling values and standards in their children. Ones are upstanding and lead the family by example, but can get critical when you diverge from their rules. Connect with the Ones in your family by encouraging them to have fun, and letting them know that you value them just as they are.
  • Enneagram Type Two Helpers fall into the role of family helper, pleasing their parents or diligently looking after their children’s needs. Helpers seek to meet family members’ unstated needs through acts of service, caring, and sometimes intrusion. Connect with the Twos in your family by acknowledging the importance of their needs and showing them love no matter what they do.
  • Enneagram Type Three Achievers fulfill the role of family star, embodying their parents values and dreams or encouraging their kids to succeed. inspire their families. They often squelch their own desires by picking up on their family’s dreams and striving to become the family success story. Connect with the Threes in your family by guiding them to follow their own interests and desires.
  • Enneagram Type Four Individualists shed light on the family’s problems, encouraging their loved ones to address difficult familial shadows. They add soul to the family, and bring shadows into the open – making sure families can’t forget things they don’t want to acknowledge. Connect with the Fours in your family by taking responsibility for the past, and holding emotional steadiness.
  • The Enneagram Type Five Investigators prefer to have some space from family dynamics, and seek the role of family expert in areas of interest. They bring rich expertise to their families, but may be difficult to engage otherwise. Connect with the Fives in your family by allowing them the space they need, while nurturing them in developing emotional connections with others.
  • Enneagram Type Six Loyalists move between building family unity and rebelling against the family unit. They’re often rebellious children and protective parents. They show steadfast commitment to family, but may test family members for loyalty, and sometimes rebel. Connect with the Sixes in your family by showing them that you’re trustworthy and devoted, while being steady and clear with your boundaries.
  • Enneagram Type Seven Enthusiasts fill the role of family cheerleader, bringing smiles to family members and seeking to minimize pain. They stir up excitement and make family gatherings fun, but may act out when they get bored and frustrated. Connect with the Sevens in your family by savoring joy together – especially mindful, everyday joy – and supporting them during the hard times.
  • Enneagram Type Eight Challengers become family protectors, exerting power as children or parents and taking on responsibility for loved ones.  They are protective of family members but sometimes also push to exert control over the family. Connect with the Eights in your family by showing strength and solidity, but also allowing them to be vulnerable and lean on you when they need to.
  • Enneagram Type Nine Peacemakers act as family peacemakers, mediating conflicts between parents or children and refusing to take sides. They create a harmonious, cohesive family environment, which sometimes means they sweep problems under the rug. Connect with the Nines in your family by sharing pleasant times, while encouraging them to speak up and assert their needs. 


  1. Does the above list offer clarity around discerning your home base type? 
  2. Does the above list help you understand what motivates those in your family?
  3. Does it offer you any insights in how to be more skillful with your family members?  

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