Being an introverted parent is vastly different than being an extroverted parent. They don’t think alike, dream alike, nor make the same parenting decisions. They definitely don’t have the same internal dialogues; many introverted parents think one response but wisely give another. Here are a few examples.
“Mom, I know we’ve spent all day together but do you want to come play with me?”
INSIDE ANSWER: “No – I don’t want to play with you.”
WHAT THEY SAY OUT LOUD: “Yes, of course – but see what Dad is doing; I know he’d love to play with you too.”
“Dad, what are you going to ask Santa to get you for Christmas?”
INSIDE ANSWER: “I want to have total peace and quiet that I KNOW will not be interrupted.”
WHAT THEY SAY OUT LOUD: “I have everything I want, sweetheart; I have you.”
INSIDE ANSWER: “I SO want to change my name.”
WHAT THEY SAY OUT LOUD: “Yes, honey?”
What is an Introvert? Introverts are characterized with a personality that
- Turns inward more than outward
- Prefers low-key environments
- Regains energy by spending time alone
- Feels drained from social interactions
- Prefers a few good friends more than many less-intimate friendships
- Focuses more on internal thoughts and moods than external situations
From a 2010 Psychology Today edition entitled, “Revenge of the Introverts”, we learn that scientists are discovering the brain of an introvert does not work like their extravert counterparts. Introverts actually take in information from their environments and need alone-time to process what they are observing and experiencing. If they don’t have that quiet time or solitude, they will naturally feel overwhelmed. Introvert brains tend to be very active and therefore, putting themselves in situations which add additional stimulation (i.e. crowds, high-energy, or high-sensory) are by necessity limited.
How does this God-created personality affect a parent’s relationship with their kids?
- You are not a mistake. Realize that it is not a mistake how you are made. Introverted parents will struggle with different things than extroverted parents do and that, my friends, is perfectly OK.
- Not their job. Realize that it is not your child’s responsibility to create an environment that is comfortable to the introverted parent. Work on not getting frustrated that the child is not meeting your personal needs – it’s not their job.
- Be nice. Kids are naturally loud, inconvenient and exhausting. Introverted parents are going to feel this more poignantly than extroverted parents; they have a higher chance of feeling anxious, depressed, and inadequate. So, be careful. Don’t judge yourself too harshly when you really hate your lack of a schedule, the millions of interruptions to your time or the peace and quiet you so desperately need but aren’t going to get. Bottom line, don’t expect yourself to be someone you’re not – be nice to yourself. If you can accept how God has made you, you have a chance of being a great parent just the way you are.
- Give yourself a break. Figure out a way to create frequent breaks throughout the day. If you are caring for a toddler, you may not have a long period of time to quietly sit or enjoy solitude, but if you can grab even 5 minutes here and there throughout the day, you’ll tend to do better. Put in times to quietly think, appreciate and practice thankfulness.
- Measure happiness carefully. Extraverts tend to be happy about everything, but introverts have the advantage of not worrying so much about actually being happy (they worry about other things). While extroverts want to try everything on the buffet of life, introverts tend to savor meaningful moments. Embrace how you understand happiness and fulfillment, knowing no two parents measure it the same way.
- Know what you’re good at. Introverted parents are good at assessing situations and knowing that change needs to take place. Introverted parents are good at allowing their children to process life and tend to encourage a slower pace of life. Introverted parents value relationship over activity and tend to accept their children how they are made more easily than an extroverted parent. Introverted parents unite – and realize how good you are at this parenting thing.
Dear Friend, parenting is hard enough without us trying to be someone we’re not or we’re judging ourselves harshly for who we wish we were. The Spirit of God has made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life. (Job 33:4) We need to celebrate how God made us knowing that we are the parent our child needs as God is the architect of our families and builds our families by purposeful design. Take comfort in His plan, lean on Him for wisdom and seek Him for the strength you need to endure. He is faithful to you.
May this day be a day you celebrate how God is working in you to be the person and parent He desires. To all my introverted readers, here’s to you! Fondly yours, Elizabeth
And now…introverted thoughts that will make you smile (hopefully).