There has been much talk (even TEDTalk) about the quiet-superiorities of introverts in the workplace. And as an introvert competing in an extroverted world, all of this talk has been very interesting and assuring. While I’m further convinced that introverts like me can succeed in the business, I still secretly desire to be a more extroverted parent. If I were more extroverted, my son would be more extroverted. If I were more extroverted, my son would have more friends. If I were more extroverted, I would find it easier to be among the parents of my child’s classmates. But I’m not an extrovert, and although I’ve taught (and forced) myself to become more friendly and social, I will always be an introverted mother. And now I realize that introverted parents are just as powerful as extroverted ones.
We Stay Calm…And Parent
Introverts are naturally calm. We are not quick to react (and over-react) to bad behavior and adversity. We take our time to assess the situation, and to figure out the best resolution. We don’t bother to fuss over situations that we can’t change. This calm natures keeps stress down in our homes, relieves tension in adverse situations, and allows our children to worry less about life.
My son accidentally ordered over $700 in On-Demand Cable. (Yes, this really happened.) My husband the extrovert would yell and scream, and refuse to allow my son to watch the cable TV, and then would eventually pay the high cable bill. I, the introvert, immediately think of how to resolve the situation with the least amount of stress. So I called the cable company, explained that my son accidentally ordered these movies without realizing what he was doing. Asked if they could reverse the charges, and then programmed a Parental Pin into the cable box to prevent future ordering.
Both responses will resolve the situation – but the extroverted response creates tension and stress, and still results in a high bill. While the introverted response resolves the situation completely, and doesn’t add any additional stress to the situation.
We Listen Without Prejudice
Listening is the greatest asset of introverts. It allows us to be great allies to extroverts, since they have a hard time listening to each other. It also makes us great parents. We truly take the time to listen to our children. We want to hear about their feelings, opinions, and assess their thought process—and don’t feel the need to talk over them or force feed our opinions down their throats.
Extroverted parents desire to participate in conversation more, and can sometimes come across as too opinionated or judgmental as they attempt to inject their feelings, experiences, and desires into their child’s rhetoric. Introverts produce children who believe their opinions, thoughts and feelings matter, and should be heard.
We Raise Leaders…Quietly!
Introverted moms have the ability to shape their children into leaders (even quiet leaders) because we teach them to that their thoughts and opinions matter (since we are good listeners), and the essence of who they are is not up for question (since we are often not judgmental).
Some view introverts as followers because we say little and often appear to be tagging along with extroverts, but usually that is furthest from the truth. As an introvert, I tag along with extroverts because they are entertaining. But I’ve never been swayed by one because I don’t fear losing their company—quite frankly I find them to be a bit exhausting. While my son is very shy, he would rather be alone then participate in experiences he’s not interested in, or tag along with kids he doesn’t care for. He may not yet be assertive and exuberant enough to lead others, but he is too comfortable with himself and his desires to be led by others. Which makes him a leader by default, even if he’s just leading himself. That’s a skill and tactic us introverts do quite well.
We Offer Stability
Introverts react less favorably to change, especially at home. Therefore, we are are less likely to make rushed decisions that might result in a lot of unpredictability or change. For example, my husband (the extrovert) plans poorly when it comes to finances, and makes important life decisions impulsively and without much planning. Before we had children, this was okay, even exciting at times. But once we had our son, I wanted more stability, and wasn’t down to move to Alaska, hunt my own food, and build a log cabin just because my husband was bored with his life and desired excitement. Although, introverts can react well when life is unpredictable, we desire stability. And this preference allows our children to relish in the comfort of a stable home.
Be assured, I don’t think introverted mothers are better than extroverted ones. I don’t think we raise better or worse children. But I do think we have the ability to influence our families in positive and powerful ways, just as extroverts do. I don’t believe that introverted parents raise leaders or keep calm, stable homes to the exclusion of extroverted parents. But I do believe that these are areas where we thrive.