Susan Cain & Parenting Introverts

UnknownI’ve recently been very aware of some misconceptions surrounding introverts. I never realized how society puts more value on those with extroverted characteristics than those with more introverted styles of interacting.  I wasn’t even aware that I was doing it too!

I chose this for Tuesday’s Talk because I really think parents need to learn more about raising introverts. We need to do what we can to embrace all the characteristics our children have.  So often, introverts are forced to pretend they are something they aren’t. Our kids need to know they are just fine they way they are! We should be celebrating our introverted children’s gifts –  they have so much to share with the world!

From the video

Susan Cain shares that one third to one half of the population is introverted.  From a parenting standpoint, if you have more than one child, it’s likely that one of them will be introverted or have a significant amount of introverted characteristics.  She pointed out that we, as a society, have a real bias in favor of extroverts. Schools and workplaces are designed for extroverts. We are always pushing for more collaboration and more “group work.”  On the other hand, when kids go off to work alone, they’re considered problem children.  Cain talked about how Western society seems to favor the Man of Action instead of the Man of Contemplation. Her research showed that when the 20th century came around, we went from caring more about Character to more about Personality.  Charisma became the most sought after characteristic.

But introverted leaders like Eleanor Rooseveltand Ghandi, show us that we need these people who are deep thinkers. Dr. Seuss, Steve Wozniak and Charles Darwin are examples of introverts who needed their solitude to be as creative as they were.

Susan Cain’s final points to share…

  • Stop the madness for constant group work
  • Go to the Wilderness. Have your own revelation.
  • Take a look at what you carry around in Your Suitcase. The world needs you and it needs the things you carry. Share it with the world.

As a Parent…why this matters to me

I used to associate introversion with shyness, but that’s clearly not the case. I knew that extroverts were energized by being with other people, while introverts were completely drained when they were forced to be in groups.  But Susan Cain really brought this idea into a completely different light for me as a parent.

While I listened to Cain talk, I thought of Katie loading tons of books into her backpack, whenever we went anywhere.  Once we got to our activity, she was busy doing whatever we had planned. Still, it was interesting to me that when she pondered the activity, she thought, “Hey, I’d like to read when that’s happening!”  Or when all the kids ran off to play backstage during downtime at theatre rehearsals, Katie would be reading in seats, waiting for the director to call them back.

I was fine with letting Katie be however she wanted to be, but I’d be lying if I didn’t tell you that it worried me. In retrospect, I was putting a value on her participation with the other kids.  I was hoping for her to “come out of her shell” or push through to enjoy being with them.  And now I look at this all a little differently.

Solitude is important.  Extroversion is not BETTER than introversion. For an introverted child, being forced into an extroverted world prevents them from exploring the depths of their own imagination.  It forces them to play in the shallow end. What a loss – to them and perhaps to all of us.

Connections…

If you have an introverted child, or if you’re an introvert yourself, you might check out Susan Cain’s blog The Power of Introverts.  Or if you’re not sure, take the Introvert Quiz she created.

contemplation

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3 thoughts on “Susan Cain & Parenting Introverts

  1. Pingback: Talent Development Resources : creativity and personal growth

  2. Hi Kim, thanks for commenting and reblogging! If you find more links along these lines, please share them here.

    The topic is really fascinating to me. I would consider myself an extrovert and my oldest child an extrovert. My husband is an introvert, and the daughter I described above is kind of moving out of that introverted phase, more toward the balanced middle. My youngest is more of an extrovert, but has shyness as a characteristic. That’s a tough combo too.

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