Introverts and children
It is a common misperception that introverts don’t like people. […]
It is a common misperception that introverts don’t like people. As an introvert myself, I can assure you that I like people very much. I just prefer to take them in small doses. But there are certain small people that I take in big doses, and I love it! I am, of course, referring to my children.
Another common misperception is that the opposite of an introvert is an extrovert. The truth is that the opposite of an introvert is a child. The younger the child is, the more opposite an introvert he is. Take our little guy, for example. He absolutely never wants to be alone. If he’s awake, he wants to be held or talked to or played with or fed. It would seem that our little guy is an extreme extrovert.
Generally speaking, introverts cherish two things: 1) Time alone to “recharge” and 2) A personal “bubble” of space around them that others cannot enter without permission. Obviously, these two things are very difficult to maintain once you become a parent. For that reason, some have suggested that introversion is incompatible with parenthood. I beg to differ, though.
I’ve come to suspect that there is a special grace given to introverts when they become parents. This allows them to spend time around their little people in large doses and to let their little people come charging into their bubble. These things seemed impossible to me before parenthood, but now it’s a daily occurrence. Furthermore, I not only endure all the interaction, but I actually enjoy it. Perhaps parenthood is the great equalizer between introverts and extroverts.
I sometimes think of the father character from a movie called The Croods. Aside from all the things I don’t like about that movie, there is one thing from it that resonates with me. When it’s time for the family to go to sleep each night, they all pile on top of the dad and sleep in a heap on him, like he’s the family mattress. Never in all of my introverted days before parenthood would I imagine desiring such a thing. But now, I regularly scoop up all my offspring and pile them on top of me, just like old man Crood does—and I love it!
My wife and I have to work very intentionally as a team in order to provide some alone time for each other. We do this by taking shifts. There are a few time slots throughout the week when I stay at home with all the kids while she goes out for a walk or does some reading and journaling in a quiet spot. She comes back totally refreshed after just a couple of hours to herself. Meanwhile, I get my alone time by staying up late at night after everyone else goes to bed. This system of taking shifts has helped us both to find a way to “recharge our batteries” with little bits of solitude throughout the week. I highly recommend it to all my fellow introverts out there.