Image and text by Gabrielle.
If I haven’t stated it out right, I think I’ve at least hinted that my daughter Maude seems to be an introvert. This is actually new and exciting news at our house! Over the last few years I’ve read quite a few articles about introversion but oddly, had never really applied what I was learning to my own kids, and instead had thought only of the adults in my life as being introverted or extroverted.
But in June, I was having a conversation with Laurie Smithwick, someone who has a combined introvert-extrovert family, and she was telling me about one of her kids needing to take breaks from parties or group gatherings in order to recharge. Something clicked in my brain — I recognized Maude in her description! Memories like Maude opting out of an outing with the family so she could stay home and read, or Maude enjoying a party and then hitting some sort of emotional wall and either mentally checking out, or getting grumpy. Maude is an introvert!
So over the last few months we’ve been talking to Maude about introversion and how it might play out in her life, and we’ve been trying new and different approaches to her social schedule to see how they work. We’re careful to build in space between her social events. We’ve said no to invitations on her behalf when we can see she’s had too much people time. We’ve discussed with Maude that if we send her to her room or the reading loft for some alone time it’s not a punishment, it’s an attempt to be kind to her. I know I mentioned that Maude is thriving these days, and I think part of it is the realization she’s an introvert and our attempt to make her life more introvert-friendly.
It made me wonder, did we not notice Maude’s introversion because she’s being raised by extroverts and has simply figured out how to mostly navigate an extroverted world? And then I started thinking about the different combinations that might happen in a family. Introverts raising an extrovert. Extroverts raising an introvert. An extrovert-introvert pair, raising only introverts. Or an introvert-extrovert pair, raising only extroverts.
I’m also wondering about people that don’t feel strictly extroverted or introverted. I would count myself among them! Perhaps it is my Gemini dual personality, but I can see myself in descriptions of both extroverts and introverts and wonder if it’s more of a spectrum than sharp categories. And lastly, I’m wondering if any of our other kids will identify as introverts.
Where are you on this topic? Have you noticed extroversion or introversion in your own kids? And are they the same or different from you? When you bought or built or put together your house, did you have the needs of introverts and extroverts in mind? Or perhaps you feel like introvert/extrovert theories are a bunch of bunk! I’d love to hear!
P.S. — In case it’s helpful, this “How to Understand an Introvert” chart has been making the social media rounds. And if this topic is new to you, or you view introversion as “bad”, this book, called Quiet, is a good place to start.