I googled “How do extroverts parent an introverted child?”
Results? Forums of introverted children complaining about their extrovert parents. We are winning over here, y’all.
I would have a playdate lined up every day of the week if I could. I mean, how important is nap time, really?
But, it’s only so many play dates and nights of guests over for dinner before I start to see the effects on my introvert child. He becomes needy, full of tantrums and public outbursts. Why? Because the poor kid is DONE.
My husband and I are extroverts, meaning social interactions energize us. Our moods are elevated, spirits lifted. A shared meal with friends quickly pulls us out of our doldrums. It’s true that motherhood has taught me to value solitude, but nothing can catapult me from a rut of mommy funk like a coffee date.
My son? He loves friends, no doubt. But only for a couple of hours and NOT more than a couple of days in a row. Kid needs his downtime, lying on the floor, looking at books and pushing cars. He will do this for an entire afternoon, emerging refreshed and ready to reengage with family.
So, while it would be awesome for me to be constantly going, I’ve learned, once again, that motherhood is about sacrifice. It’s for my child’s good to push the pause button, assess needs, and then decide whether we can accept an invitation. I have to remember:
Rest time is sacred. This is built into our day. My son needs AT LEAST an hour of alone time with toys and books while his siblings nap.
One-on-one time is prioritized. This makes a world of difference to my little introvert. Now that I have 3 kids, it’s easy to let this go. I have to schedule it into my week and grab little pockets when I can.
We have to look at the entire week before we make plans. I can’t plan things multiple days in a row. It’s worth consulting the calendar before saying yes to a park meetup.
Spontaneity isn’t our thing, in this season. Sometimes we can say yes on the fly. Mostly, we can’t.
We have to discern when to push and when to protect. It’s good to encourage my son to learn to cope around people when he just wants to be alone, but it’s also good to protect his personality and not continually set him up for failure. He’s more apt to lash out at a friend when he’s feeling drained, leading to discipline. I want him to succeed, both in being stretched beyond his personality and also feeling safe to retreat and recharge.
This isn’t forever. I have plenty of adult introvert friends that can be spontaneous and also monitor their own personal needs.
Kara Garis is a cloth diapering, baby wearing, semi-crunchy mama to two active boys and a baby girl. She lives with her husband in Oklahoma and loves running, cooking, traveling, reading and teaching herself how to braid. She blogs very infrequently at karagaris.blogspot.com.