Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Introverted parenting ... is it harder?

Recently, on another blog, the topic of personality types was brought up and having some history/ familiarity in this area, I began pondering my MBTI profile (INFP for those curious) and how it plays out in my role as momma. Mostly I have been thinking about how being an introvert may affect me as I parent.

As a point of clarification, when I speak of introversion, I am speaking of where I derive/focus my energy. I like to spend time alone, to do dwell in my head, pondering (things like this), and I am most comfortable here. I still need people, especially my people, but being around people can be draining for me because it requires me to work outside my head, to stay focused on the here and now, and leave the comforting ebb and flow of my internal mind. If you are not an introvert these things may sound odd, check out the links below to get more information if you are curious:

http://www.knowyourtype.com/introversion.html (basic and quick)
http://www.learningplaceonline.com/relationships/friends/caring-introvert.htm (a much beloved article)
http://www.theintrovertzcoach.com/definitions_of_introvert.html (look near the bottom of the page for nine different definitions of introversion, I have no idea about the legitimacy of the rest of the site)

Anyway, back to me (always, always back to me …sigh) … My point is that being a momma doesn’t really leave me much opportunity to sequester myself away into my head. There are always things asking for my attention, not to mention people who prefer I actually speak to them, answer their questions, and acknowledge them once and awhile. And then there is the fact that I have a very extroverted middle daughter who is currently in the “What are you doing mom? “Why are you doing that mom?” “Can I please have …” “Can I please go…” “Will you please …” etc etc and on it goes until all I feel is the tension between my shoulders getting tighter and my brow getting squishier (producing very nice wrinkles, and not the good laughter type ones either), and my responses getting shorter and more and more aggravated. And it isn’t her fault, nothing she has done, or asked, or wants is unreasonable and it is very easy to satisfy her curiosity, her needs, and her wants but by 2:30 pm I feel this overwhelming need to fall into my head a shut the rest of it out for awhile.


Then the guilt comes, or even the resentment. The resentment. The worst is the resentment, and it isn’t because I don’t love my kids, or life, or anything. It is the fatigue, the exhaustion, the desperation I feel regardless of how much sleep I’ve had, it is from the lack of mental rest I get. And because of these feelings I go to dark places, and then my 2 year old looks into my face, furrows her brow, practicing for her future wrinkles, (goodness… I hope not … ohhhhh), and asks “Grumpy, mommy?” because that is who I have morphed into, the “grumpy mommy.” I smile, and she smiles and she asks again, “Happy now mommy?” “Yes, dear child, for the moment.” But I am still tired, even if she is darn cute.

So I wonder,
Do I go to this place because I am introverted and more inclined to be overwhelmed by the “in-your-face-ness” of motherhood or is it simply because I am a mom? Do all moms experience this desire to run away from the goings on around them and hide on the computer, in a book, at the sewing machine?

Can being an introvert make parenting harder on a person?

21 comments:

Anonymous said...

Found you on Intent - was interested in your 30 days . . . but I just couldn't resist commenting here.

Introverted parenting! I can really relate to all you said here. Being in the car with my daughter sometimes makes me wish I could put some sort of window between us (like a limo driver); the talking just doesn't stop. I asked a dear friend/mentor about this, and she shared with me about her daughter who was of the same demeanor. She shared that she and her husband actually worked to teach their daughter that it wasn't ok to talk all the time, that it isn't ok to have "wasted words." I thought that was a great idea, but alas, it doesn't solve the whole "problem" of introverted parenting. And yes, I would say it's harder . . . but I know a LOT of extroverts who say it is the hardest thing they have ever done too. So perhaps it's not really harder, just a different hard(?)

bubandpie said...

I clicked over here from Owlhaven (I'm a fellow tag-ee!). Parenting is ALL about the running away for me, but I'm an introvert as well as a mom, so that doesn't really answer your question, does it?

Queenheroical said...

bubandpie, no I can't say it answers my question but it is nice to know I'm not the only one planning her next escape.

Anonymous said...

I'm an introvert with a capitol "I" I've realized, and personally I suspect parenting is definitely harder for an introvert. Perhaps it's even part of why I have no children so far, and even have been slow to warm up to the idea of marriage for so long. Introverts crave deep connection, and they nurture it, but I think with young (like toddler and preschool) children it can be especially stressful for an introvert, as there is often so much energetic bomardment and also chaos/noise/pulling. I know it was very hard for me when I used to teach preschool. It was actually THROUGH teaching young children like that that I realized just how introverted I truly was...so I think that might say something.

Blessings, Wendy
http://www.blogger.com/profile/26854969

Becky said...

WOW, I can't believe how much I related to your post. I too am an introverted parent who is often planning my next escape. Then the guilt kicks in as I know my 11 year old extroverted child has the opposite problem, meaning she's miserable if she's not going, going, going.

2:30 is my drop dead time too. Often my family will come home, and I'm rather quiet, which prompts them to ask "Are you alright Mom?"

I imagine all Moms have their challenges, including the extroverted Mom. Imagine an extroverted Mom dealing with an introverted child. The mystery and frustration has got to equal that of the introverted parent dealing with the extroverted child.

Interesting thought to ponder....thanks for writing your post. Will check back again soon.

Heather said...

Hey There - I've been pondering my introverted parenting after I read "Motherstyles: Using Personality Type to Discover Your Parenting Strengths" which talks about parenting in light of Myers Briggs personalities. The author, Janet Penley, is also an introvert and she's got a newsletter and website that addresses different pareting situations in light of our personalities. One thing about introverts - as you've noted - is that we need uninterrupted time alone, and so far, I think our expectations of ourselves as mothers don't let us get a lot of that. But knowing we need it, maybe we can fit some of it into our day? I keep thinking I need about 20 minutes between the time I get home from work and the time I talk to anyone at home just to sit on my bed and do nothing - or look at a magazine, or anything I want to do. Easier for me now that my kids are over the age of 10, but not a bad idea....

Cynthia Schultz said...

Parenting Introvert & Extrovert Children Claim no middle ground.

After 25 years at this job and juggling the outside ones too - I firmly believe we as parents take our kid's tendencies as personal reflections of ourselves. Well that might just be right: if you're introverted or your wife, there's a possibility that your child might be too. Here are a few things to consider from my recent post: Forcing Them to Change Invites Disaster Encouraging an introverted child to morph into an extrovert can have the same result as trying to fry your bacon in a toaster – eventually it will work, but the cleanup is hell. Instead, find ways to help your child recognize his or her strengths as you help them stretch toward trying extroverted activities (but only once in a while). Don’t expect them to continue using extroverted behavior when they’re on their own, it will purely be an exercise in exposing your child to variety; never a bad thing in moderation. You can find more at: http://sydneyintrovert.livejournal.com/596.html

My kids' mom said...

As an introverted mom, I was happy to stay at home with my 2 girls, that is, until my eldest daughter started preschool. The best preschool in the neighborhood is parent participation, so of course, without knowing much about parent participation preschools, I eagerly signed up my daughter. I started off, last year, very eager to meet new parents and make friends, but now, in the second year, I am socially exhausted. I am even having a hard time summoning the energy to maintain existing friendships. Apart from being an introverted, I'm a very anxious person and seem to find any excuse to worry. I worry about making new friends and then when I do make new friends, I worry the friendship will come to an end and all that social energy I used up will be for naught. My eldest daughter is a very strong willed extrovert, so just keeping up with her is tiring enough as it is. Let alone, coming up with small talk for preschool drop offs and pick ups, let alone all the birthday parties, etc. I know I still expect myself to be an extravert, which is a mistake, and the anxiety wears me out even more, but is there a trick to finding balance as an introverted mom?

Please help!!!!

QueenHeroical said...

Hi "My kids' Mom" -- wow, I sort of forgot about this particular blog entry -- it does seem to gather more hits than anything else -- I suppose that should serve as a reminder than we aren't the only ones. But more to your comment -- Wow, I can't imagine having to be so active -- I tend to avoid too much social obligation - I figure I have enough at home. But that said, my introverted ways concern me on behalf of my children whom I do feel need greater social interaction. The classic push pull of parenting. So I now findour lives more tied to social groups (in particular a homeschooling group) and I too have been fretting about the making and building of friendships within this new dynamic.

A couple of years ago this would have tied me up into knots and exhaustion -- but I have since been working on finding my "foods". The things that keep my introverted self well fed and happy -- to coin a familiar phrase -- I have been seeking my joy. And though my family brings me great depths of happiness and wholeness, they are not my everything. I need to seek out other things which I like purely because they make me happy. For me these things are poetry, artwork, creating, writing. When I have these things (in moderation - like any good food) - I find I have more energy to (for lack of a better word) endure the social demands put upon my life. I know I have a safe harbour to retreat too at the end of the day -- a treat waiting.

I'm not sure if that is helpful to you - but it has helped me. It has also alieviated my anxieties about other people -- strange as that may seem. But as I discover more about me, I find I play the "I should be like..." game less. I am happy being this person, I like my putterings, my happinesses. I find rest in them and in turn have more energy to go forth into the extraverted world.

This may not make it easier to make friends (my standards for friends tend to be fairly high) but I am more open to knowing new people (as acquaintences usually) - I save my "people" for when I really do want to be with people :)

I hope that helps some and good luck. Please do let me know if you find something that works for you - I may want to try.

On goes the journey.

Dawn said...

You are very wise. I really appreciate your approach to balancing out your personal preference for quiet reflection with your need to grow and get out of your comfort zone a bit socially. This is a wonderful way to fully develop, as God wants us to, rather than being stagnant. Thanks for your insight.

Laura said...

Thanks for the insightful comments, especially your most recent comment, QueenHeroical. I found your blog entry by Googling introverted parenting, after a long weekend of wanting to crawl into a hole to escape my toddler and preschooler. I think your suggestions to make time for solitary putterings are valuable...it should help me to spend time sewing and walking, things I enjoy in peace and quiet.

Anonymous said...

Why would an introvert have children? This strikes me as very strange, and potentially cruel to the children.

Red Bohemian said...

This is me, me, me, too!

I fight this battle everyday with my 4 kids. I am deeply introverted--so much that even a hug can have the opposite effect of its intent. I also have a chronic illness, too. When I am ill, I want to be LEFT ALONE! No, I don't need anything; yes, I'm sure. Or getting the kids to bed at night. "Would y'all please just go on to BED!!!!!" with the unspoken part, "so I can just be alone?" I have had it by around the same time of day you do, too. I thought that was funny. Well, not so funny. I think the archetype of the mother is infinitely generous, eternally comforting, just a lovely well of resources that her children (and by extension, her parter) are free to partake of any time they need or want to. 24/7;365/366. So yes, I feel guilty that I'd rather roam the universe inside my head than the one that is outside of it. I cannot help it; I am wired this way and it can't be changed. I do explain to my older children how I am made (with varying amounts of success) but it's still really difficult. Every night, I really just want to run away!

It is hard, very, very, very hard. I think we are doing the best we can with the card we were dealt. Thank you for sharing your thoughts--It's so wonderful to know that there are introverted mothers out there.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this article. I identify with this so much! I am an introverted SAHM of a homebody 1-year-old and the world's most extroverted 4-year-old. She wants to go, go, go! The little one wants to stay home and play with Mommy alllllllll the time. And I just want to lie on my bed and stare at the ceiling fan in blessed silence. I feel guilty, because I worry that they won't know how much I love them. It's good to know that I am not the only one.

LambAround said...

I found this post through a search for "parenting as an introvert". I've been having a hard time deciding whether or not to have a baby and, as an introvert with a touch of social anxiety thrown in, I think my #1 reason against kids is how much time and attention will be required from me. All the socializing with other parents and kids (yes, socializing with the friends of my potential kid!) sounds exhausting.

http://lambaround.blogspot.com

Anonymous said...

all this time and i thought i was going crazy! i didnt know what was wrong with me, if i was deppresed or unhappy with my life. i just found out tha i was an introvert! i feel so releaved to know that explaines why im the way i am with my son and the people that surround me. i was reading these comments and it felt like they were about me. thank god there are more like me and now i dont feel like a bad parent.

Anonymous said...

I am so glad that I am not the only one who wants to escape at 2:30 pm! What a great feeling to know that. Now I can tell myself not to feel guilty about this. I thought of getting a babysitter at this time several times a week, so I can get out and just "be me." I often will put a movie in at this this time for the kids as well. They are grumpy at this time, so it can be double trouble if I don't take it easy. Also- I am done at night. I want to escape and be by myself. My oldest of four is a HUGE extrovert. He is finally older so he can start planning his own social life a little bit, but it can be hard to strike a balance.

I have noticed a few questions about why an introvert would choose to be a parent. I think that both introverts and extroverts should have kids to have a beautiful and fulfilling life that stretches you and makes you better. When you are a parent you always need to build a support system around you, and as an introvert this can be planned so that you have regular breaks and time to be inside of your head. It is a push to keep this support system, but it is worth it. Just now as I am writing this post- I am looking back at my mothering up till now and I am realizing that almost all of my hard times could have been improved or completely nonexistent had I just had a babysitter for an hour or two several times a week. I have started doing this and it has brought new life into me. Now that I know that other moms are introverts like me- I feel great! I am not going to let myself feel guilty anymore! God made us this way and He loves us this way too! We need to accept our introverted personalities as a beautiful part of who we are. We can also accept the help that surrounds us and makes us whole. As mothers we can only give what we can give. It is enough. God put us with our specific children and He knows how to make things work. This has been such an eye-opener for me tonight. Thank you ladies!

Jane Elise said...

Definitely being a really introverted personality type, as opposed to being just over the line or whatever, and parenting a really extroverted child, like waaaaay down the end of extrovert-ness/ism/ity...is harder.

But I think it means we have to be more purposeful. We need to manage our time and their time, so the child gets the stimulation and company they need but the parent doesn't melt into a puddle on the floor.

It has taken me nearly 6 years to figure out why I was finding parenting so hard though. I only had the one child so I had nothing to compare parenting her to anyone else. I now have a baby and it is already different, noticeably different.

Btw, I found you because I am sitting here halfway through a 3 week school break having sent my extroverted child to her grandparents for the day because I am melting down and I was like....there must be others like me!! So I googled 'Parenting Extroverted Child' and then it was like looking in a mirror.

Introvertmum said...

As an introvert mum it is important to teach our kids to respect our "me time" and learn to do things on their own. For example, find a hobby you enjoy. Mine is reading and card making. I am teaching my kids (3) that I can play with them after I've finished reading or card making. Even if I can only achieve 10mins they will slowly learn. My eldest (10) is an introvert and it is such a blessing to be able to understand him and not try and make him someone he is not. I have explained to him its Ok for him to have times on his own when he feels like it. My middle (7) is mildly extrovert. My youngest talks all the time (4) lol. I am teaching him that there are times when he needs to stop talking for a while because I am feeling tired. This often happens in the car. It is so helpful to understand our personality. The most helpful book I read on the topic was "The Introvert Advantage". Thankyou everyone for sharing and helping us introverts feel OK.

Anonymous said...

In response to anonymous, who wrote, "Why would an introvert have children? This strikes me as very strange, and potentially cruel to the children. "


You have got to be kidding me. *facepalm* Get educated. It is very common and not a flaw. We need different personality types in the world, especially the parenting world. While some introverts may feel overwhelmed with children, not all feel that way. It's all about how they cope. If they find ways to cope, they can be excellent parents. Deep-thinking, kind parents are needed in this world, and most introverts are deep thinkers and kind.

-Kase

Michele said...

Love this post!

I am also an introvert. I stay-at-home with three kids--two of them extremely introverted. They suck the energy out of me by noon every single day. And it's summer vacation, and it will continue to be so for 1 1/2 more months. Ugh.

My husband started a new job where he now commutes 5 hrs a day. This means I am home with all three by myself until 8 at night. It's freaking bedtime, and I'm passed my limit at that point. Some days I don't know how I make it.

It feels good to know I'm not alone!