Future Introvert?

Today was a big day in the Spectatrix household. My husband and I found out that the baby I’m having in June will be a boy! This new knowledge brought up a whole host of emotions as well as questions — now that we know a bit more about this growing person, what other kinds of things will we learn about him in the future? Just who will this new person be?

One of the big questions we have is whether or not our child will take after us in temperament. Since we’re both introverts, we assume that he will also be an introvert, because of genetics and because of the environment we will raise him in. But I don’t know if this is a safe assumption; I’m sure there are examples out there of introverts raising an extrovert and vice versa.

In some ways it would be easier if he were an introvert because we would understand his perspective more readily. On the other hand, he might have an easier time of it if he were extroverted because of the societal bias against introversion. I’m sure both would have their challenges and benefits, and I hope that we could help him graciously navigate the world in whatever way works best for him.

What are your experiences, both as parents and as children?

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11 Responses to “Future Introvert?”

  1. frustrated introvert said:

    Hi spectatrix. Well, first of all, CONGRATULATIONS! on your baby. Second of all, you were right to add the part about it not being a “safe assumption” to think that your child will probably be an introvert just because you and your husband are introverts. I say this because my boyfriend and I are highly expressed introverts, but from what I have observed, I think that our daughter is an outgoing extrovert. Our daughter is almost two years old, and I definitely started to think about what kind of temperament she would have when she was a newborn. From newborn till now, I have observed that she doesn’t shy away from people. She loves to be around other people, and it doesn’t matter whether those people are new to her or if they are familiar. She especially enjoys being around other kids. When she first meets an adult, she gives an engaging smile and she doesn’t mind being held by that person. When she meets another child, she is ready to play and she loves to hug. Even though I am an introvert, I have taken the time to do research on both introversion and extroversion so that I would know some of the differences between extroverted behaviors and introverted behaviors. My daughter mostly exhibits extroverted behavior, but she does know how to keep to herself for short periods of time. For example, when she is in a quiet, keep-to-herself mood, she sits on the couch and flips through the pages of a book or magazine, and during that time, she doesn’t like to be bothered. But for the most part, she runs around and laughs and babbles, and wants to be part of everything that is going on. This is draining to me since I like to have some down time to myself. but she wants to engage with me a lot of the time.During some of those times, I will sit her in her high chair and give her some colored pencils and a piece of paper so she can color for a little while. I have also figured out the tv shows that she really likes, so I have her watch those shows when I need a break. I think that one part of it is knowing about the differences in temperaments and how to parent your child according to that temperament. If a child is more introverted, then the child might want more down time to simply do things of his or her own and probably won’t have a need for constant attention. If the child is more extroverted, then he or she is going to be more interested in receiving attention and being part of what is going on. A lot of parents end up parenting all of their kids the same way, because they might not be as aware of the different temperaments and personality types and how important it is to parent specifically to the child’s temperament. I think that once the parents are aware, it makes it easier for the child because the parent is able to understand the child’s needs and to explain the child’s temperament to other people who might not be as aware.

  2. Allie said:

    I have a very extraverted mother and a very introverted father. I am about as introverted as a person can be. I take after my dad in other ways as well. This has driven my mother crazy all my life. My mother spent the entirety of my first 18 years trying to make me be some extraverted person. It did not work.

    I was so glad to move out and go to college. I had a dorm room to myself and I spent all my time in there or at the library. I lived with roommates for a bit after than (who thought I was nuts because I stayed in my room all the time) and then spent 3 glorious years living alone.

    I’m married now (10 years) and I miss living alone. I LOVED living alone. It was so peaceful.

  3. James said:

    Hey Spectatrix,

    I’d say don’t worry about it. I don’t think you’d disown your bub if he turned out to be an extrovert so it seems like you’re worrying over something that you can’t change and would have to adjust to anyway. :)

    Oh, and @frustrated introvert,

    Paragraphs are your friend. ;) :p

  4. frustrated introvert said:

    To James, I actually did try to make paragraphs but it stll got lumped together, so please don’t police me. Thanks.

  5. spectatrix said:

    Frustrated Introvert,

    Thanks so much for sharing about your experiences with your daughter! It’s really helpful to hear how other parents approach this issue, and I’m sure your daughter will appreciate the fact that you are trying to understand her needs.

    Also, I’m not sure why the paragraph function isn’t working. Sorry about that!

    Allie,

    Maybe I will take your story about your mother wanting you to be extroverted as a cautionary tale, and not go in the other direction with my kid :) And I can totally identify with the happiness to be found in having your own place/space. I grew up sharing a room with my sister, and the first time I had a space of my own, it was wonderful!

    James,

    I wouldn’t say I’m worried, just speculating on what life will be like once the little one arrives :) And trying to be as prepared as I can be!

  6. jrf said:

    The book “The Introvert Advantage” has a chapter on parenting issues that might be good to read, or review if you read it sometime in the distant past.

    I have an eight year old daughter who, while not at the far end of the spectrum, is more of an extrovert than I. She needs a sufficient supply of social engagements with peers to function smoothly and happily. But a young child depends a lot on the parent to make social engagements happen–to keep a social network of playdate partners alive and healthy, and simply to coordinate things. That involves maintaining possibly more engaged relationships with more other parents than is in the natural comfort zone of the introvert parent. At least that is my story.

    Most important is to have your eyes and ears open to figure out what your child needs, and not make assumptions based on what you, from your temperament context, would need.

  7. sb222 said:

    I can completely relate to Allie’s situation. My mom always jokes about being the “anti-social one” in the family (which I’d love to correct her on, but I annoy her by doing that already :) )

    Sometimes it gets problematic- misunderstanding intentions, making inaccurate assumptions- but I think you’ll be a great mother!

  8. spectatrix said:

    JRF,

    Thanks for the reminder about “The Introvert Advantage” — I have read it, but was not tuned in to the parenting aspect of it at the time. And thanks for your words of wisdom about what you’ve experienced. I hope that I can keep my “eyes and ears open” and provide the best response according to what my child will need.

    SB222,

    Aw, thanks! :)

  9. Evelyn said:

    Congratulations on the baby news! Lots of good advice here.

    I’m not a parent but I am introvert whose parents were two opposites. My mom was an extrovert and my dad was an introvert. I was very shy growing up and, in my early 20s, decided to try being more extroverted and found I enjoyed it. I can do all right in social settings to this day, but, deep inside, I’m still an introvert and like to be alone.

    My husband is very extroverted but he was an only child and spent a lot of time by himself so he, too, sometimes needs a day to himself, as he got used to that as a kid.

    Whatever your kid’s temperament is going to be, accept them as they are. I was very much like my dad as I was growing up. This sometimes bothered my mom and she would say, “You’re just like your father!” and did not mean it in a good way. My advice, do not say this to your kid! Bite your tongue, walk away, just don’t ever say this!

    My dad suffered from severe depression and had a nervous breakdown when I was six years old. He was in a mental hospital for two years and eventually recovered and had a successful career as a doctor. My mom had no end of worry regarding him though she dearly loved him. She was probably exasperated that I was “just like him” and she had two people to worry about. I have turned out all right, though.

  10. spectatrix said:

    Evelyn,

    Thanks for sharing your experience :) More good advice to heed!

  11. The Visible Woman | Spectatrix said:

    [...] he stares them down until they dissolve into fits of baby talk and goofy grins. Before he was born, I wondered if he would be an introvert like his father and me, but for now it seems he can’t get enough of the attention of strangers. It’s put me in [...]