Coptic Orthodox Diocese of the Southern United States
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My question is that I am 100% parent personality especially with my family, which I did not see it as a bad thing until I heard Your Grace’s sermon regarding these personality types. I always see everything black or white. What should I do and how can I change this?

The parent personality is mind and conscience dominant, often rigid, authoritarian, and tends to have personal control issues. There can also be some major egocentric character traits associated with this type of personality. If you see things as only black or white, you are most likely viewing your perspective as superior, not only as the better option, but as the only option. First ask yourself these few questions: What does seeing things as black or white do for you? Does it somehow feed into your ego or psyche? Does it assure you of something you are lacking? Does it provide you with a level of security over a presumed fear? What would happen if you let go of this black/white perspective?

Control issues and/or the positioning for power can sometimes stem from an upbringing where self-expression is suppressed due to a domineering parent. In a cohesive well-functioning family, each person feels respected, regardless of age or knowledge. The more spiritually mature one becomes, the more confident s/he can be that others can make judicious decisions, and accomplish their tasks independently and collaboratively. Thus, the parent personality can actually damage the child's self-image and obstruct his/her developing personality by over-interference. If only Mom or only Dad seem to have all the answers, why should the child bother to develop critical thinking skills? The children's spiritual development will be stifled and they will most likely find themselves in situations where they seek someone else to control them in their social interactions or they will ineffectively try to control others. The consequences will be manifested in a grown-up child either clinging to his/her spiritually immature child personality or developing a spiritually immature overzealous parent personality; and thus, will find difficulty in matriculating into the spiritual adult personality.

The parent personality strife can also be seen amongst servants and churches, when groups of servants or individual churches become needlessly competitive against one another. The truth of the matter is that the Coptic Orthodox Church is one unit, i.e., one body with Christ at the head, very much like a true well-balanced Christian family. A church or a group of servants assuming the parent role may mock the youth or activities of other churches or other servants, even within the same diocese, by taking a direct or indirect stand by disallowing their children or congregations to interact. In our greater church context and services, and within our own families, petty contentions and personal ambitions should never be goals, because the church as a whole, as is the family, should be the only goal.

Whether it is one's own personal family or a church service, parents and servants ought to serve by empowering others, and not by assuming power over others. It is important to engage your children in healthy discussions and genuinely respect their opinions even if they differ from your own. The process is just as worthy as the result. Therefore, know yourself, learn to be flexible without compromising important principles, and make room for your family members and others to discover their God-given potential free from your imposed influence.
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