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Lisa Belkin

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Introverts and Extroverts in Parenting

Posted: 04/ 8/2012 3:49 pm

One of the core realizations of my adult life is that I am an introvert.

It took me awhile, because I sure look, from the outside, like an extrovert. I chat up a storm at parties. I chat up a storm most places, actually. My husband has been known to use the term "magpie."

Then I reported a story a number of years ago where I took all the "personality" tests out there that employers use in some workplaces, and, in the explaining one of the testers said "you turn it on at a party, right, but then you need to head to bathroom for some peace and quiet, no?" Well, that described every party I had ever been to. And since then I have been far more aware of the recharging role that "quiet breaks" and "regrouping" play in my life.

In an interview at the Huffington Post offices last week, Susan Cain, author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking told Arianna about her own "aha" moment, and the fact that our degree of introversion or extroversion are as much a part of our identity as our gender. We talk an awful lot about the latter, but not nearly as much, at least not until recently, about the former.

Since you are reading this on the Parents page, you probably know what I am going to suggest next -- it is as important a part of our children's identities, too. Which means it should be an awareness that is part of our parenting. Arianna talks about how she chased away the children at her own fifth birthday party because she preferred to read. What is the mother of such a child to do? I, in turn, raised one child who craves solitude and one who gets energy from a crowd. How do you parent an introvert differently from an extrovert? And what if your child is precisely the opposite from you? How does an extrovert respectfully raise an introvert? How does an introverted parent not become overwhelmed by an extroverted child?

 
 
 

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