Do I give my baby a pacifier or let her cry herself to sleep? Should I force the defiant toddler into a coat or let him feel the pain? Shall I let my child make his own decisions or enforce the rules with an iron fist?
I'm a Judger, a.k.a a freakishly neat, compulsively organized, stressed out, OCD bore. Ditto my ENTJ husband.
So will someone please explain how we managed to produce an INTP teenager, emphasis on the "P"?
“Can you imagine what this will be like when they’re older?”
I heard it in my voice before I had a minute to say more. There we were, my husband and I, watching our kids play, carefree, on our last night of vacation and I was already living in the future. I was dreaming of something better than this, whatever that might be. We had planned and dreamt of this trip, our first time introducing our children to the beach, and still I was struggling to stay there, in the moment, with the people I loved the most.
Years ago, I was chatting with another mom at a play group, who had daughters just a few months older than mine. She was talking about how much she adored her kids. Possibly, she loved them to the exclusion of everything else. She could not imagine how dull and pointless a person's life would be without them.
The signs are as clear as the nose on your face: as a toddler, your daughter had extreme stranger anxiety and a great deal of trouble warming up to new people (even her grandparents); as a preschooler, your son came home from daycare and immediately escaped to the privacy of his room; as a teenager, your child could speak beautifully in front of the whole class but avoided the after-school social because she said she couldn't deal with large groups of people. Congratulations! You're raising an introvert. How on earth are you going to cope?
Picture the scene: Family reunion at home for the holidays. Turkey in the center. Questionable casserole on your left. Immediate family, cousins, and in-laws only inches apart at the long, rarely-used dining table. It seems to be going well. Then it starts.
Suddenly, the world is waking up to the notion that introversion is not a disease. Susan Cain's book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking ignited the popular debate and got us all thinking about the challenges of living as an Introvert in an extroverted world.
I suppose it has become typical of social media. A stay-at-home mum (SAHM) wrote an article saying that although she was grateful to be a mother, being at home full-time was just awful at times. She wrote of the stress, the loneliness and the boredom. Another SAHM then wrote in reply. She slammed the first mum’s confessions as unnecessarily negative—even downright wrong. She claimed it was the biggest joy she’d known and loved every minute of it.
So the war was on.
A war of words, a war of perspectives, a war of personality and difference.
When it comes to raising well-behaved children, one size does not fit all. A simple "no" might be enough to get your rule-abiding, people-pleasing son to lift his hand out of the cookie jar. But if your strong-willed daughter enjoys pushing boundaries, then you are going to need a different approach.
Shy and thoughtful one day, rambunctious firecracker the next - toddlers are works in progress when it comes to developing their personality. While most parents will recognize distinct personality traits from the get-go, young children tend to defy classification by exhibiting behaviors that seem to come out of left field. Trying to label an egocentric, emotionally unpredictable, tantrum-throwing two-year old is a bit like trying to hiss and yawn at the same time - an impossible feat.
But you are not as helpless as you may sometimes feel.