What is an Introvert?

    Many people conflate shyness & introversion. It is not the case that all introverts are shy. Most of the introverts I do know can be articulate &, in the right circumstances, sociable. It is basically that introverts re-energise by spending time alone. Their interior world is more important to them than their exterior world & they value solitude over companionship. Plenty of people have heard of the Introvert/Extravert dichotomy because of the Myers-Briggs Foundation. This project takes the principles of character typing developed by CG Jung & explores how those character types function in society. It is important to recognise that:
  • Introversion / Extraversion are not the only personality traits explored.
    There are separate dichotomies (the others are Sensing/Intuition, Thinking/Feeling & Judging/Perceiving), leading to sixteen distinct character types. Exploring the other traits is not the purpose of this hub but it can be seen from this that there's eight broad Introvert types. 
  • Each of these dichotomies is defined on a sliding scale
Which ranges from a powerful preference through to a slight. Thus, every person will have a unique combination of features. Somebody who defines as Introvert may identify strongly with this aspect of their character type, others may hover near the centre of the sliding scale. They may, more exactly, call themselves an Ambivert - somebody who can move between introversion and extroversion, according to mood and social situation.

Why is Introvert parenting particularly intense?
Ask most introverts & they will tell you that our society seems to value extraversion over introversion. From our earliest days they are encouraged to seek out friendship groups. There's lots of new parent groups which pregnant females & their partners can access in order to have a "support network" obtainable to them when their kid is born. Even small communities abound with pre-schools & nurseries where young babies are cared for in, sometimes huge, groups. If babies are schooled, this continues through their schooling. Our workplaces are often busy & bustling. Introverts can often feel as though they are being suffocated by sociability! If basically existing as an introvert can sometimes feel overwhelming, why pick parenting as a draining role for an introvert to undertake?

Primarily, it is the all-encompassing nature of parenting. For most parents, parenting begins with pregnancy & for nine months an introvert mother-to-be is seldom truly alone. Even when carving out "me" time, he's her lovely small passenger along for the ride. & one time kid is born? Well, often, that complete symbiosis of father & kid from pregnancy actually looks as if the simple part! I don't know about you but I seldom worked in any job where my colleagues would follow me to the toilet & try to continue negotiations with me whilst I was shut in a cubicle!
I am addressing introvert mothers here but I recognise that fathers can be introverts . Of work. & I recognise that increasing numbers of fathers are their kid's primary carer in the early years. I hope all introvert parents, mothers or fathers, find something of value here.
This hub is all about recognising that parenting is challenging - most parents require to do the best they can for their babies. Whatever persona a parent is, having responsibility for the health & well-being of a whole other human being can feel like an overwhelming responsibility. To do it well means ensuring your own well-being is protected. It is a lot simpler to give your time & energy to your babies when those things are replenished regularly. The additional challenge for an introvert parent is generating the time & space to do that when, for most of us, it means carving out sufficient, high-quality alone time. Locking the toilet door probably won't do it (although it might be a start!)

1. Accept that you are an Introvert:

It can be tempting, when the world seems a lot more receptive to extrovert personalities, to try and re-invent yourself. If being an extrovert makes it simpler to spend time along with your infant then - pow! - become an extrovert.

Suddenly discover the joys of large crowds and noisy soft play areas which eluded you before. (Permit this introvert a brief shudder of horror before proceeding!) There is validity in the idea that they ought to explore our "shadow" sides and Jung felt that they ought to all have an understanding of our opposites but understanding and becoming are not the same.
Whilst character can, and does, evolve over a life-time, affected by life experiences and social groupings, the underlying traits are most likely to stay. According toPeter Geyer, 75% of those who re-take a Myers-Briggs check will document the same result a second time (and this can be higher, if the participant has strong preferences). This implies that the core aspects of who they were are deep-seated, possibly innate and unlikely to shift drastically in our lifetime.

Thus, than trying to become less introverted, a parent who embraces their introvert character is likely to be in a better position to make adaptations to their parenting style to accommodate their need for space.

2. Accept that you are not ONLY an Introvert:

Reducing who you are to word is always going to be a small basic and self-limiting. None of us have character trait. Those other letters on a Myers-Briggs scale?... They are important and your combination of aptitudes will probably be unique to you. Moreover, letters seems even more limiting than a word. 

Taking those letters as the foundation for exploring the rich multi-faceted nature of humans seems a healthier approach.Me? Well, to limit myself to letters for a moment (!) I came out as an ISFJ when I was one time eighteen. I am an extreme Introvert. But, I also have tendencies toward OCD and, as a result, my mental health is better when my home is neat and ordered. I prosper on method and strongly hate spontaneity! All these things have formed my parenting yet none of them were anything to do with being an introvert. The fact that I learned to mix my need for tidiness with my kid's need to explore (read: make a mess) grew out of my "J-ness" not my "I-ness"! And I am definite my Sensing and Feeling characteristics will have fed in to the type of parent I ultimately became, even if I am not aware of the actual outcomes.

Likewise, any parent who tries to plan the way they raise their infant around aspect of their psyche is likely to find it virtually impossible. The needs of the infant and, indeed, the parent won't be fully met and there may well be increased tension and discord. Knowing that parenting is dynamic and acknowledging that it is never thing can help us when we are trying to work out what on earth is going on!?

3. Notice your kid's character.

If you are an introvert parent, you may spend pregnancy crossing your fingers and hoping for an introvert kid. You may have fond images of sitting side by side along with your tiny, in happy companionable silence, building elaborate rail networks from your box of wooden train-track. Or, you may envisage hours on the couch surrounded by books which you and your kid will share harmoniously. They will sit entranced and definitely won't try to gnaw the cover or launch a beloved classic at your head.

And you know what? It might happen like that. It did for me - the first time around. My eldest kid turned out to be a happy, contented introvert who would happily spend a whole morning planning and executing brilliant rail networks. They welcomed my participation but didn't appear to need it and would stay lost in his own world if I needed to step away for any reason.

This Introvert parent / Introvert kid relationship may appear the ideal but it is not without its challenges. As you both need tiny outside stimulation, you can finish up comparatively isolated. As the adult, an introverted parent may must bite the bullet and take steps to be definite you and your kid do have some social interaction in a week. Even the most extreme introvert can gain from building friendships with other parents and building a support network. Even introvert babies can learn and grow through thoughtful and sensitive interaction with their peers. As an introvert kid gets older, you may find that, although you went through it yourself, you worry about whether they are making friends and socialising . It is probably unfounded but you are a parent so that is what you'll do!

And in case you have an ambivert / extrovert kid? It is all a query of balance. You know your kid and it is possible for you to to read their cues. They won't be subtle about letting you know that they need over your company, no matter how scintillating a conversationalist you are! Their liveliness and gregariousness can be daunting for a parent who values silence but it may even be hugely life-affirming and enriching. Cherish your own character, cherish your kid's and cherish the difference.

4. Generate a rhythm.

Having a rhythm to your day or your week can be helpful for introvert parents. Whether this needs to be a strict schedule or more of a loose plan will be contingent on whether you are a "J" Introvert (likes schedule and structure) or a "P" (likes spontaneity and surprises). Irrespective, in case you know that going to a kid group will deplete your energy then making provision to replenish is not egocentric, it is necessary.

I loved child groups when my babies were small. Even I, an off-the-chart introvert, valued the chance to speak about milestones, complain about fatigue and make friends with individuals who had babies the same age as my own. I didn't require to keep away from these groups and I am grateful that they had lovely quality provision where I lived and that I could make friends with some brilliant parents whilst my babies made friends with theirs. It took me a long time not to feel guilty if, on the days when they had been out for a morning, I didn't use naptime to tidy or prepare food. I used it to recover - a cup of tea and a lovely book.

It might appear indulgent but in case you are your kid's primary caregiver then their well-being depends on your well-being. You are not being egocentric when you take the time to meet your own needs, you are being a responsible parent. And, if you are a working introvert parent? I would imagine it is even more of an imperative to give yourself some space. You are dealing with the intensity of life with small babies and the responsibility of work. Without a rhythm that includes rest, you may well burn out. It is not always simple, in this age of perpetual business, to see a space for introverted introspection but most introvert parents will know when they are stretched narrow. They get cranky - and we are not pleasant when we are cranky!

5. Think about your parenting style.

From the minute you know you are having a child, there's specialists longing to tell you how it is done. These specialists range from relatives members through to published authors, who must know what they are speaking about if they have got a book about it. Well, yes and no. Some parenting advice can be useful but any "one size fits all" philosophy is going to come unstuck when you think about all they have been saying about the variances amongst parents and amongst their children.It doesn't matter whether you are an introvert, an ambivert or an extrovert, the best parenting style for you is the you evolve to best suit your relatives. I do not like parenting labels but sometimes they can help us find our "tribe". If I had to choose, I'd choose "Instinctive Parent" - which may be a fancy way of saying "Make It Up As I Go". Which is, actually, fine.

I was one time very surprised to find that my instincts led me to be broadly Attachment in my parenting choices. As this type of parenting is associated with intensive parenting practices and is usually liquid about structures, it didn't appear to suit my persona type. But I found that things like carrying my child in a sling - my extrovert youngest - worked in my favour. He was stimulated and happy, being able to see the world from my back. I was one time able to take some time and space knowing he was safe and happy. What at first glance might have appeared counter-intuitive for an introvert, actually served my needs (and those of my child) very well.

Perhaps Introvert Parent is a label all of its own but an Introvert Parent who raises their kid according to their instincts is likely to be a happy and successful parent.

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