As an introverted parent raising introverted kids, one challenging aspect is: “Wait… where did my alone time go?”
Raising introverted children comes with its own set of challenges, especially when the parents, too, are introverted. I have three daughters who are all introverts, yet all distinctly different in their introverted ways. Sometimes juggling their personalities — along with my own — can make for an interesting household. Our struggles can be as simple as who is going to answer the door or as complicated as finding my own space to recharge.
Thinking back to my own childhood, there are things I wish I had known about myself that would have made life easier. So I try to pass on advice, and set a good example, for my own children to help them understand their limits and gain perspective of who they are.
Recognizing My Introverted Traits in My Children
I can see my introverted quirks in all of my children. It can be difficult watching them struggle with the same problems I dealt with growing up. Sometimes I find myself wanting the easy way out and falling victim to the “norms” of society by wishing my girls would talk to people more or act more outgoing.
But the realization quickly set in that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, and I find I need to evoke self-awareness and confidence rather than changing them into someone they are not. In any case, it makes me more aware of my struggles as an introverted parent.
(What are introverts like as children? Here are seven common characteristics of introverted kids.)
6 Challenges of Raising Introverted Children as an Introverted Parent
1. “Mom, can I have a friend over?”
One of my challenges as an introverted parent is socializing, specifically, being out of sync with my children when they want to socialize and I do not. My family adores each other — and alone time — so our household is usually very quiet and laid-back. We don’t have guests over often and my husband and I have a small friend circle. I get anxious when my usually calm household is turned upside down by a few extra people.
My girls love their alone time, too, but occasionally they do invite friends over. Obviously, I want my girls to socialize and have healthy friendships, but it’s also draining for me when they want to have sleepovers or I have to call parents to arrange a playdate. (Ugh, do I really have to call a parent?)
As an introverted parent, I have to step out of my comfort zone so I can help foster my children’s relationships. Thankfully, nowadays, I only have one pre-teen and my other girls are older, so the job of coordinating friend visits has finally lessened for me. (Truthfully, it always ends up fine when the friend visits are over and I see my children’s smiling little faces retreat back to their rooms to recharge.)
2. “Who’s going to answer the phone?”
The phone is ringing or the doorbell just rang… anyone going to get that? If you live with introverts like I do, they are probably waiting for someone else to make the first move (me included). Don’t get me wrong: I will make phone calls when I have to, but if I can get away with texting, I will usually choose that option (and my kids know this all too well).
As a parent, I want my girls to have phone etiquette and be able to have the confidence for the future to make those necessary phone calls to their employers; to communicate with a bank; or even to simply place a food order. However, this is difficult to demonstrate when my children see me choosing an app to order online rather than calling. To compensate, I help my children understand I am capable of calling and have the confidence to do so, because there are certain things that require a phone call.
Ah, but it is a bit amusing to see the anxiety and panic on all of our faces when the doorbell or phone sounds! (Hint: Cell phones are great for monitoring calls you don’t need to answer.)
3. “Wait, I have to speak…? Out loud?”
Maybe I could take the advice of my middle daughter, who tells me she already spoke with two people today and that was enough “peopling.” Touché! I totally get where she is coming from, but I also want my children to be able to use their voices when necessary — those wonderful and thoughtful voices they use all of the time in front of those they trust.
When my girls were younger, I felt their pain of speaking to others and wanted to jump in and be their voice. I wanted to help my girls get through situations because I knew exactly how they were feeling; and after all, wasn’t it my “fault” they were so quiet?
Of course not, and I quickly learned speaking for them was not helping their communication skills. I am quiet, not shy, as are my introverted children. But I do speak up when necessary, a learned skill. Today, I am confident my daughters are learning it is okay to be assertive (when necessary) and that speaking out may help in certain situations. And, most importantly, they don’t need me to be their voice. (Whew, I wasn’t in the mood to talk anyway!)
4. “Yes, I want to help out at my children’s school (but behind the scenes). How could I be misunderstood?”
If you have children, then you know they are involved in activities requiring parental support and involvement. I am all about the support, but when it comes to actually being present and involved, I tend to hesitate.
Volunteering to work the bake sale is completely different then baking items or sending donations. I will send anything needed, but please don’t ask me to come in and interact. Unfortunately, this hesitation was — and is — misunderstood by a lot of parents as not caring or a lack of involvement in my children’s lives. Occasionally, parental misunderstanding of me fell back on my own girls, and it was difficult to watch them being treated differently by certain people because of my presumed uninterest in my children.
Over the years, I really just had to become comfortable with myself and not worry so much about how I was perceived by other parents — I knew I was active with my children’s activities (but more behind-the-scenes than front and center). My friends who knew me well didn’t question it. And, of course, my introverted girls were right there with me!
5. “Do I have to get out of my head?”
Like most introverts, I tend to stay in my head rather than focusing on the outer world, but I am aware of when I need to get out there. My middle child would prefer to stay in her room — or on our mini-farm with her animals all day long — and it takes some coaxing to get her out and about. Establishing a balance between staying home, immersed in alone time and enjoying solo activities, can be challenging when one of my introverts is craving to be alone and the others are ready to get out there for a while.
When my girls were younger and couldn’t stay at home alone, I would have to take them wherever the family adventure was leading. Now, since they are older, sometimes I let them pick and choose family and friend activities. I understand all too well about being in a place, or participating in an activity, that you just aren’t mentally available for.
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6. “Where did my alone time go?”
Perhaps one of the biggest challenges for me as an introverted parent raising introverts is finding my alone time when all of my introverts have their own needs and seem to all come to me for help at the same time. My girls are all about four years apart — with my oldest an adult and youngest a pre-teen — and it seems as one finishes “introvert problems” at one age, another begins. Let me clarify with examples of their friend stages right now: My pre-teen is stuck in the mode of wanting to fit in and find her friend group, but not understanding her social limits as an introvert; my middle child has happily come to terms with her introversion and cherishes her alone time, but is craving that friend who understands her; and my adult introvert is convinced that she will be forever alone (and, of course, I reassure her that she won’t be)!
It seems like an endless cycle for me, helping them through their stages of life, and it can leave me feeling mentally exhausted. As the years go on, I have realized my alone time is crucial and my family won’t like my attitude if I don’t get enough “me time.”
Walking, hiking, and running are my little escapes away from my family — where I am able to play my music and think, relax, and recharge. Writing comes as a close second for allowing me to re-channel my energy, and oddly enough, acting! I have been fortunate enough to land a few background acting roles, and I love the little secret filming “missions” I am able to experience. Through acting, I get to be someone other than a mom for a couple hours (or days) And, in the end, I am fully recharged and in “mom mode” after being a police officer or in the nineteenth century for a bit.
Although Being an Introverted Parent to Introverted Children Is Challenging, It’s Also Extremely Rewarding
Being an introverted parent of introverted children does have its challenges, but it is also rewarding because I have three people in my household, who for the most part, “get me,” and I get them. As a “seasoned” introvert, I am sometimes able to predict “introvert problem” outcomes and offer advice only my introverted daughters are in-tune with. Watching them put my knowledge to use in solving their own challenges leaves me feeling satisfied and proud of their efforts. However, when they solve a problem on their own, it leaves me beaming.
Additionally, as my daughters grow older and better understand themselves, we are able to joke about our little quirks and help each other through everyday introvert problems. I mean, going out and ordering ice cream can be comical, right? Keeping track of who actually talked to the store clerk last time for everyone can get taxing. Maybe we should keep a “who made contact last” log?
Occasionally, as an introverted parent, I have to step out of my comfort zone to nurture my children’s relationships and to help them realize there are multiple paths to obtaining something and achieving the desired results. Instilling confidence in my introverted daughters is important, as well as providing reassurance their introversion shouldn’t hinder their existence, but rather, enhance it.
Fellow introverted parents raising introverts, what are some challenges you face? Feel free to comment below.