I was pleased to be interviewed for this article by Beth Dreher, Features Director at Women’s Day. I think it really helps for moms to understand their natural strengths and personality. Understanding yourself helps you parent with love but not lay a trip on your kids. It is not that extroverts don’t possess the abilities Beth writes about but that introverted moms may find it easier to access these strengths.
Let’s face it, parenting is the hardest job there is and to be impactful we need to tap into our kids’ individual needs. I find the lessons in Beth’s piece also apply to adult children. While the play group example isn’t as relevant, certainly being good listeners and giving those 20 and 30 somethings space can be hugely beneficial! So thanks to Beth for bringing these assets to light.
Round -the-clock play groups. Innumerable Mommy and Me classes. Happy hours for parents. It can seem like parenthood is built for those who thrive in the Around company of others. But introverted moms (and dads) have a ton of parental superpowers of their own.
Marriage and family therapist and blogger Kristen Howerton knows a thing or two about motherhood: She and her husband, Mark, added four kids to their family within four years, through natural birth and adoption. Understandably, she soon began to feel overwhelmed and outnumbered. “The volume of work it took to keep my household running was exhausting,” she writes on QuietRev.com. “But there was something more to it than physical fatigue: parenting was emotionally exhausting. I lived for nap time and bedtime. If one of the kids woke up early, I felt rage. I was desperate to get time away from them.”
After a few emotional sessions with a therapist, Kristen received a surprising diagnosis. “She told me I was an introvert,” she writes. “She said, ‘There is nothing wrong with you beyond the fact that you need time to yourself to refuel and recharge.'”
Initially, Kristen felt guilty and disappointed. “I viewed my introversion as a flaw I had to overcome.” But gradually, her thinking shifted. “Lately, I’ve been wondering: Could my introverted personality be a benefit?”
The answer, from experts and other introverted moms, is a resounding yes. Among other strengths, “introverted moms understand and appreciate the temperaments of their children,” says Jennifer Kahnweiler, Ph.D., author of Quiet Influence and other books on introverts. Read on for more hidden strengths of introverted moms (and dads!).
1. THEY DON’T OVERSCHEDULE THEIR KIDS.
“Because introverted women probably grew up with the expectation that they be outgoing and social, they’re likely to not drag their kids around to a million activities,” says Kahnweiler. “Their attitude is more likely to be: Want to read in your room? That’s fine. Don’t feel like participating in multiple clubs or sports after school? Okay with me.”
2. THEY’RE GOOD LISTENERS.
Details of a field trip. Advice from a doctor. Scheduling overlaps from your husband. An introvert’s ears are a well-honed instrument.
3. THEY THINK LIKE TODDLERS.
It’s a good thing! Kathy Chappell, self-described introvert and co-founder of the blog Introverted Mom uses her own knowledge of what being overstimulated feels like to spot signs of an impending meltdown from her daughter.
4. THEY ENCOURAGE INDEPENDENCE.
“When my kids were babies and toddlers, I allotted plenty of time for non-stimulating, quiet activities,” says Kirsten Brunner, Licensed Professional Counselor and Co-founder of the blog Baby Proofed Parents. “Being introverted, I needed this time and I knew they would benefit from it as well.”
5. THEY HELP THEIR KIDS PROCESS THEIR OWN FEELINGS.
“Put me in a situation, and I’ll look at it from multiple angles, think it through to its conclusion, and come to a reasonable plan of action,” writes Kristen Howerton. “You know who doesn’t do that very well? A 6-year-old.”
6. THEY TEACH THEIR KIDS TO RESPECT OTHERS’ NEED FOR DOWNTIME.
Tiffany Swanson, co-founder of the blog Introverted Mom, has two extroverted kids. But she has worked hard to make sure they understand their friends’ need for quiet time. “I tell them that it’s ok for their friends or them to go off alone and read or draw,” says Tiffany. “I’m hoping that, even though my kids are outgoing, they develop a sensitivity to and respect for introvert needs.”