Familial Traits

James sent me an article a few weeks ago about “introverts”!  We had been discussing family dynamics, differences between his family and my family, differences in our siblings and parents and how we saw various familial traits in our children.  It’s kind of one of those on-going discussions you have as adults, trying to be self-aware and as parents, trying to do the best you can with these unpredictable, little people that you are responsible for.  The thing is that if you don’t “get” your spouse it’s going to be a heck of a lot harder to really get your kids since they’re half you and half your significant other’s!

I’m sorry did you say you don’t like people?

Okay of course he didn’t actually say that but, one of the main differences between James and I, is his need to have time alone at home and my need to be with people.  To be fair, if you asked some of my friends, they might beg to differ…I’m not a party animal but I love social interaction.  In terms of my marriage, I don’t know that we’ve ever experienced a great deal of tension over this difference but in all truthfulness we’ve only really been able to put into words and express the depth of these differences in the last few years.  James has probably sacrificed more of himself for my sake, because it’s true that introverts are often misunderstood and James’ personal journey has taken a few twists and turns along the way to compound my inability to relate to his specific needs.  I’d share more here but my husband is an introvert and one of the main tendencies is a great need for privacy.  But he’s been patient and because we’re pretty good at communicating with each other we’ve worked these through and I am slowly grasping what he finds refreshing is usually a few hours away from people.  The big dilemma now is recognizing how these two very different traits have shaped our children…

The “intros” versus the “extros”!

Some of the reason this discussion has re-surfaced is because we’re going through another cycle of discovery with our four kids.  Learning new things about them, seeing their growing personalities, watching them as they interact with friends and just generally trying to figure out the best ways to relate to their unique personalities.  The discussion of their introversion or extroversion is kind of interesting because it’s led to a few “ah-ha” moments as parents.  I think it would be fair to say there is a sliding scale of these two types of people.  Some are extremes while others fit somewhere neatly along the scale, leaning more one way than the other but finding traits that could fit either.

For example, our oldest and youngest children, seem to sit more on the side of extrovert but have a few introvert tendencies.  They love people, when they are in their own home; they enjoy being snuggled, embraced, and physically in contact on a pretty regular basis from a good variety of people,  they both love to talk, although they aren’t really ones to engage with complete strangers, as they have become more comfortable with themselves they are both pretty enthusiastic and can be very animated in the right situation, the list goes on.  They would likely not be classified as extreme extroverts but a great deal of their outward interactions put them closer to extrovert on the scale.

Our two middle children definitely lean more towards being introvert with a few traits that fit in the other direction.  You might wonder why this matters…so they’re different, just deal with it.  You would definitely be right but as their mom and the one who spends the most time with them and most often has to be their advocate, it’s important for me to try and understand them.  

Okay so what does that all mean anyway?

I don’t know that there’s any huge lesson per say, but just like any new piece of information you gather about your child you try to explore it, grasp how it affects your child’s perceptions, actions, behaviour, interactions, and you try to improve as a parent when you react to situations because you have new knowledge.  So a bit of research, some gathering of definitions…
Quite simply, introversion is an explanation of where an individual draws their energy; from solitude or from the company of others…Signs of introversion can show up very early in life, often first making an appearance in the first year. As babies, introverts can be reluctant to be held by strangers, are easily overstimulated at the grocery store or at the park, get fussy when their personal space is invaded.”  (Are You Raising An Introvert?; BY R. L.LAFEVERS 04.16.11)  

and “expert” opinions…

Caring for your introvert

and wha-la you’ve gained a new appreciation for what makes your child tick!

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