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Topic: Will the constant company of children do my head in if I have kids?
jonmuto
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Will the constant company of children do my head in if I have kids?
on: Mar 3, 2012, 4:48pm

I am a fairly intensely encumbered / enlightened introvert…one of those that manages to appear extremely outgoing and extrovert but runs out of steam very quickly and has an absolute requirement for solitude at regular intervals, or I find that I have very little to give other people.


I am not yet "planning" for children, in so much as one can, but as a 37 year old man in a loving, long-ish term relationship, and having only recently had the "eureka" moment of realising that I have been an introvert all this time…I often find myself wondering (and trying not to worry about) whether I would find the non-stop intensity and omnipresence of my own children unbearable!


I must sound like a horrible person…I do love being with kids, and spend a lot of time with my godson….but we all know it's a very different story when you can give them back…


And I don't believe that this is me harbouring a typically male 'fear of responsibility' or similar…more of an intellectual interest as to whether there are recognised patterns of introverts struggling with the constant intensity of children…or whether one just adjusts. Perhaps it's different when they are your own, part of you, in the way that I don't have any problem with my girlfriend being around (although we have yet to move in together!)…


Anyway, not quite sure what I'm asking…but it is a recurring thought I have had and would be interested to know if anyone has any thoughts, experience or observations.


Thanks!


M


ygthinkstoomuch
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Re: Will the constant company of children do my head in if I have kids?
on: Mar 6, 2012, 5:58am

I've been lurking in the parenting forum and hoping someone would address this. I'm a young parent and perhaps not the most qualified to answer, since there are multiple stages of parenthood that I've yet to reach. However, no one else has, so I'll give it a shot. In my opinion being an introverted parent does require extra effort. That being said, parenthood is no less rewarding for introverts. While it can be more difficult, especially if you have an extroverted child, an introvert has a lot to offer as parent.


I'm a stay-at-home-mom. I've just begun educating my five year old at home, and my other child is not yet two years old. I'm absolutely crazy about my children, and I try to put a tremendous effort into being a good mother. I only recently realized that I'm an introvert, but it explains why being a mother has been so challenging at times. Frankly, I thought there was something wrong with me. I couldn't understand how I could love my children so much and yet crave time alone so strongly. I tagged it as selfishness, resolved to work on it, dealt with it as best I could, and went on.


Then a few months ago I stumbled across Susan Cain via an interview with another blogger that I subscribe to. Since then, I've spent a large portion of what little free time I have reading on the subject of introverts. I can't tell how comforting, how marvelously affirming it is to know that I'm not a lousy mom–I'm an introvert! (It has helped me in multiple other facets of life, but that's all rather off-topic.)


I realize that you are looking for perspective, not actual tips for raising children at this point. However, for future use or others who may be lurking, here's what works for me.


–Develop a routine for your family. When everyone needs you and is talking to you at once, it helps to know that you have their afternoon nap or bedtime coming up. Sounds cruel but it's true.


–Get your spouse on board. My husband has precious little free time because of the hours he works. However, he volunteers to watch the kids early one morning each week. I leave, get something to eat, and read, usually. Again, knowing that I'll get some time to myself helps.


–Pick the brains of those around you that have similar personalities. They've been a valuable resource for me. I'm heavily involved in a small church community, so that's one of my main resources.


–If you're struggling with a specific problem, Google it. While I've yet to discover a site dedicated to serving and offering resources to introverted parents, there are many, many articles and blog entries that address the issue. Parenthood rarely takes you where others haven't already been. Fortunately for me, some of those ahead of me are willing to put what they've learned online.


In closing, being an introvert doesn't necessarily mean that you shouldn't have kids. If you're prone to carefully reasoning your way through problems, thinking before you speak, and not following the crowd, you could be fabulous father-material. In my case, it just requires extra planning. Parenthood has its bumps, no matter how you're wired.


Again, I'm sure there are others who can weigh in on this more effectively than I have. I'd love to hear from them.


nbdurie
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Re: Will the constant company of children do my head in if I have kids?
on: Apr 16, 2012, 10:30am

You ask a good question. I'm an introvert mom, married to an introvert, with 3 introvert boys, so here's one perspective. Though we all need our alone time, I find hanging with 4 introverts as much less exhausting than 1 extrovert. When they are your own kids, you know each other in a deep way, not superficial chitchat. You can read each other's signals. You can enjoy sharing a book with them.


Our culture says parents should run from activity to activity with kids. We've learned to tactfully turn down invitations to Chuck E Cheese. Parenting can be a joy for introverts. I read that stay-at-home moms have a higher percentage of introverts than working moms, possibly self-selection. I find the few, close, 24/7 relationships more rewarding than superficial work relationships.


That being said, vacation in 1 motel room for 5 can test our reserves. My husband and I take turns with the kids, so each of us can get a break. He'll take them to the pool, then I'll take them to breakfast so he can catch up on email.


If you work all day, then worry that your kids will take away needed alone time, my husband's experience is that his kids rejuvenate him, get his mind off of work. When we can be authentic at home, it is not exhausting. But we do have to tell the kids to give us space sometimes. Raise bookworms and you will have all the space you want. icon smile Forum Good luck.


Red Dog
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Re: Will the constant company of children do my head in if I have kids?
on: Apr 18, 2012, 11:14pm

Quote from leslieerin on Apr 18, 2012, 3:46pm

One of my biggest fears about having kids is the forced socialization that entails. Even just while running errands – random strangers will stop you, goggle at your baby and ask all kinds of questions. I can't even imagine how horrible going to a soccer or little league game must be. I don't even want a dog for the same reason – you have to talk to all the other dog walkers!


I say this not to be contentious, but there appears to be an element here that goes beyond being introverted, and is one of avoidance of social contact or being overly reclusive.


Socialization is not forced upon anyone, even though it may feel that way to you. One has the option to decline invitations to socialize. Events like soccer and little league are voluntary, not mandatory. What would happen if you attended an event but spoke little with others? Would anyone notice or care?


Although I am very introverted, when I walk my dog I usually enjoy meeting and talking with other dog owners, one on one. I've met some very pleasant people and only a few cranks and nasty ones. OTOH, I don't frequent dog parks where people let their dogs run wild and get into mischief, nor do I want interaction with those who might justify their dog's bad behavior. I decide for myself the amount and extent of social interaction that I want. But that is quite different from avoiding social contact entirely.


So it seems that the social avoidance you are describing is not an essential characterization or a feature of introversion, and that these two aspects are not synonymous.


Gumby5
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Re: Will the constant company of children do my head in if I have kids?
on: Apr 16, 2013, 5:53pm

I can understand your fears. My own experience as a stay-at-home mom of three (ages 10, 6 and 3) is that the preschool years are most trying, because at this age kids are more needy for your attention. Once they are older and able to entertain themselves better, it is much less exhausting. (This is probably true for everyone, introvert or not!) Plus I have really enjoyed sharing books and delving into their interests with them as they get older.


I wouldn't let your concerns put you off becoming a parent, as long as your partner understands your needs and is willing to work as a team to meet them (and hers).


I am an extreme introvert who somehow ended up working in public education for 12 years, married into an extroverted family and now stays home with three kids.

introdad
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Re: Will the constant company of children do my head in if I have kids?
on: Dec 22, 2013, 5:23pm

Quote from jonmuto on Mar 3, 2012, 4:48pm

I am a fairly intensely encumbered / enlightened introvert…one of those that manages to appear extremely outgoing and extrovert but runs out of steam very quickly and has an absolute requirement for solitude at regular intervals, or I find that I have very little to give other people.


I am not yet "planning" for children, in so much as one can, but as a 37 year old man in a loving, long-ish term relationship, and having only recently had the "eureka" moment of realising that I have been an introvert all this time…I often find myself wondering (and trying not to worry about) whether I would find the non-stop intensity and omnipresence of my own children unbearable!


I'd say for starters that the realization that you are an introvert is a big step in being able to handle it. I've got two children, 3 and 8, and have only the last few weeks realized that I'm an introvert (not so much because I didn't know how I was deep down, but because I didn't know this psychological trait even existed).. I guess it's too early to tell for kids that age, but our 8-year-old is more extrovert than I ever remember myself being, and I've always found it quite a chore to be his father, which I think to a large extent is bacause I've been feeling that being a parent requires you to be extrovert, trying to be in charge of every situation, managing what your kids do and how they do it. I'm now trying to see things in a different light, accepting the fact that I need to 'zone out' often during the day; not getting a guilty conscience from feeling that I'm being selfish I think will help.


I must sound like a horrible person…I do love being with kids, and spend a lot of time with my godson….but we all know it's a very different story when you can give them back…


I would say this: if you long for children, you'll probably find a way to manage it. There are plenty of tips on the 'net and on this forums on how to survive parenthood, like having ample personal time. On the other hand if you're thinking "I'm not really sure if I want to have kids of my own", it may be a sign that it will be too much for you. I know for me sometimes I've felt I've been going crazy, and even got some psychological help for a while (CBT) in order to get over the anxiety I was feeling about not being able to manage family life. The CBT really helped, and has led me to search for further relief. Still, I feel, that given what I know about how I've reacted to being a father, had I wound the clock back 9 years, I probably would have said "no, I won't be able to handle it". Sure, kids can be wonderful, but compared to the mental pain I've endured I can't at this point say it's been worth it. Perhaps if I'd realized that I am an introvert much earlier I would have been able to see things in a different light; indeed it will be interesting how I will react from now on with my knew-found knowledge about myself.


I don't think you sound like a horrible person at all. Just like the norm of society today is extrovert, there's also the norm that kids are supposed to be the ultimate source of joy and fulfillment, a viewpoint that religion also enforces very strongly. It's not easy to stand up in that wave and say, no, this won't work for me. People will say things like "You'll get into it with time" or "Of course you can handle kids, everyone does", which to me is akin to telling an introvert that "Everyone can do small talk" or "Don't be so introvert".


Anyway, the fact that you love to spend time with your godson leads me to believe that together with the fact that you know you're an introvert will help you handle parenthood. Don't forget too that children fairly early on can handle a great deal of issues that we instinctively don't think a child could handle, if you explain it to them, like why Daddy has to be on his own now and again.


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