I ran into a friend after school drop off one morning. Immediately, I recognized the look of exhaustion on her face. We started chatting about the joys and challenges of raising kids, the desperate need for alone time, and the desire to sometimes escape the noise.
And then something occurred to me. She thought she was a bad parent because she didn’t realize she was an introvert. Been there. Done that.
Introverted with Kids
While the rest of the world seems to shout endlessly about the joys of a rowdy crew and the voices around the table, some of us are secretly hiding in the laundry room for a moment.
And make no mistake, it’s not because we don’t want to be with our kids. We just don’t want to be with them ALL THE TIME. Frankly, we don’t want to be with anyone all the time. It’s not personal. It’s just introverted-ness.
I think it’s a shame that I didn’t realize I was an introvert until I was well into my thirties. Had I known that my need to be alone for at least part of the day was something I had no control over, I could have saved myself some serious mom guilt. I also would have understood better why I never felt like I could have a coherent thought when my kids were toddlers and preschoolers.
But here’s the great news, I actually think there are quite a few upsides to being an introverted parent. Let’s start with the obvious, shall we?
Embracing the Empty Nest
Right about the time I had my I’m an introvert epiphany, this one followed closely behind. I had no reason to fear the empty nest. Most certainly, I will miss my children being at home because I love and adore them.
But because I enjoy my alone time, there is no reason to fear being left behind when my kids fly the coop.
What will I do with myself? Anything I want! Read a book, sit and stare at nothing, fix a meal and enjoy it slowly…you name it and I’m looking forward to it. My husband (also an introvert) and I already have many introverted activities planned. We are 11 years out.
Empathy For Shy and Quiet Kids
This one is near and dear to my heart. I was a shy, quiet kid. I survived childhood mostly with my head staring down at my feet.
Currently, I am raising several shy, introverted kids. Shyness is not a bad thing, but I really hate how the world often makes kids feel bad about it. Because I’ve walked in those shoes, I’m always drawn to the quiet, introverted kids.
While we do try to reinforce good manners with adults, I don’t force my kids to interact in ways that make them overly uncomfortable. Chances are they will grow out of their shyness eventually just like I did.
Resisting Overscheduling and Finding Balance
In a culture of overscheduled kids, an introverted parent’s need for downtime can become a real asset.
Many introverts have spent a lifetime carving out quiet, alone time for themselves and naturally do the same for their families regardless of the children’s temperaments. I think this fosters better balance and healthy routines for kids. It includes time to play by themselves and time with their families.
The world will always be spinning out there for the action loving extroverts, but creating a safe haven in your home is a gift to introverted kids.
Recognizing and Steering Clear of Drama
Another big upside of being an introverted parent is that most introverts are observant by nature and recognize drama from a mile away. By using our own intuition and modeling healthy relationships, we can help avoid relationship drama in all areas of our life.
One of our best features is the ability to step back from a situation and examine what’s really going on before we get too involved. Modeling these same steps for our kids will hopefully reap long-term rewards in their relationships as well.
Despite its obvious challenges, being an introverted parent can be a positive if we embrace the best aspects of our personality and take the time to recharge without feeling guilty. What do you think? Is being an introverted parent challenging, rewarding, or both?