Parenting is always a little stressful. That just comes with the territory of being responsible for other tiny, virtually helpless humans. But there are certain circumstances that can make parenting particularly challenging.
For my husband and I, that is being introverts with extroverted children.
I am an introvert. I never knew that, because I’ve always enjoyed the performing arts. But the sad reality is that interactions with other people stress me out. I am far more comfortable discussing concepts, ideas, and completing tasks. Working in a team? Hate it. That’s why I ran track in high school– I was the only one responsible for my success or failure. And that’s how I like it. I would rather sit in a room of filing cabinets alphabetizing IEPs than engage in group discussion. I would rather sit in my living room listening to systematic biblical theological philosophy than experience social awkwardness. I choose silence over small talk, and solitude over multitudes any day of the week. My husband is the same to a degree, he likes being at home. But he’s also a helper-fixer and finds immense satisfaction in helping people.
What does this have to do with parenting? A lot.
For starters, it affects how I approach teaching my children. One of the greatest challenges for me is getting inside another person’s brainspace to see how they react/understand/process things. Especially when I naturally have a difficult time controlling my tongue. It is mentally exhausting trying to figure out how to keep the kids engaged in learning and present the material in ways they both understand and enjoy. Just this morning, I got out our pre-reading curriculum, handed my daughter her worksheet, which she promptly threw on the ground telling me, “I don’t wanna color the letter pictures, this is boring!”
Then she defiantly kicked her Hello Kitty-stockinged feet on the table and played table drums with her colored pencils… That girl may give me an aneurysm.
At the end of the day, I’m completely worn out and on edge because of the constant mental and emotional fatigue of tending boo-boos, refereeing sibling spats, and engineering teaching tactics. And there are extroverted people who don’t understand. And they can’t. Because they love people.
Personally, I have a super hard time living out Ephesians 4:32. I have to rely heavily on the Holy Spirit to make me kind and tenderhearted or compassionate to others, especially my children.
It all comes down to treating other people like people, who’ve been extended the same grace I have, and not as concepts, or symbols. That’s hard for introverts; we’d just as soon live and let live, stay out of other people’s business, and stuff our beefs down deep so we don’t have to handle confrontation. But that’s not what Scripture commands, and thank God, He’s faithful to reveal to me my blind spots and sanctify me through my relationships with others.
At the end of the day, I need to walk worthy of the call I’ve received in Christ Jesus, and humbly submit my comfort and preferences for His grace, compassion, tenderness, gentleness, and genuine love for people, teaching my children to do the same.
What about you? What are your parenting struggles?