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Personality Types and Motherhood?

Personality types and motherhood 2

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When I was at the doctor a few weeks ago, I looked at an article in a parenting magazine that talked about the different personality types and how that plays out in motherhood. (If you don’t agree with the idea of personality typing, you might want to skip this blog entry.)

I read the one for me (INFJ) and I thought it was very accurate. I wish I would have asked the receptionist to make a copy for me so I could quote it here, but I didn’t.

But reading that got me thinking about how different personalities adjust to new phases in life. So that got me thinking about how women adjust to motherhood and, more specifically, where I might find the adjustment easiest and most difficult. Here’s my current working theory on how introverts and extroverts adjust to motherhood. Feel free to tell me if you think I’m remotely in the ballpark or if I should just stick to doing something else. 🙂

I’m guessing that introverts might have an easier time in the earlier phases of motherhood, especially when caring for the baby entails a lot of feeding and at home time. Introverts thrive on being alone with their own thoughts so I’m guessing feeding baby ten times a day leaves a woman with lots of time with her own thoughts. Now whether she’s coherent enough to HAVE her own thoughts might be another story, but she is getting a lot of time with just her and a baby that’s busy eating.

So it stands to reason that perhaps extroverts have the hardest time early on when they are “tied down” to the baby. Extroverts thrive on lots of interaction with people and I’m guessing most new moms don’t get a lot of time with other adults to get the stimulation they need.

However, I’m guessing maybe it switches as the children get older. Introverts get less time alone with their own thoughts and extroverts get more opportunities for interaction whether it is with their own children or other families.

There’s my theory. Was this true for you? Care to shoot holes in my theory? Feel free – just be nice and remember I’m a rookie at this! 🙂

Personality types and motherhood

24 Comments

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  • Sallie, this is brilliant! I have an infant, toddler, and preschooler, so I’ve been on all sides of being tied down and having lots of opportunities for getting out. I agree with your theory and am intrigued to see what other moms think about it:)

  • I love being home, I love being by myself. the perfect day means we didn’t take the vehicles anywhere!

    So infant days were the most blessed of my life!

  • Though I have never thought about it before, I do think it makes sense. At least it has in my experience as an INTJ (think that’s what my type is… been a long time=)

  • Sallie, I would totally agree with your theory that introverts probably do best when they are spending lots of time at home with the baby. I am an INTP, and it never dawned on me to leave the house after my first C-section until my husband gently asked me if I would consider attending church again! 🙂

    I would say, however, that the personality type of the children would affect the dynamic later on. My son is an introvert, too, and I wasn’t able to have another child until he was almost three. Even though he was a busy toddler, I got plenty of time alone because he wanted time alone as well!

    Now, we have a little girl (16 months) with a very social personality. I am curious to see if that will be more stretching for me (especially when she is down to one nap a day!)…I know she is already stretching her brother! 🙂

  • I TOTALLY agree with your theory! I am an I something-or-other (I can never remember!). I do babies GREAT. Big kids….ehhhhh not so much LOL! I have 5 youngin’s (and a husband who travels a LOT 😉 ), and oh to have some solitude now and then!!!

    I’m also much more comfortable around babies in general. You’ll most likely never find me teaching a 3rd grade Sunday School class, for example. Kids over age 2 intimidate me. 😛 (Unless they’re mine LOL!)

  • So am I the token extrovert to speak up??? lol

    Yes, you pegged me good. I had never thought about why the babying years were hard on me, but I think you are right. All of my girls are older now, from college age, 2 teens and an 8 year old and I AM LOVING IT!!! I hang out with my teens and I love their friends!

    It was during the time when I had a 4yr, 2yr, and infant that I found friends on the internet in a Christian chat room…..it saved my sanity! I like how your theory makes it sound….not so bad! =) I loved my babies but the older they got, the more I enjoyed it.

    Christie

  • I’m a definite introvert, and I think you’re theory is spot on 🙂 No problems with staying home more with the baby – I loved it. Now that the kids are older the constant talking, noise, interruptions are *really* hard for me to handle most days. I’ve found the best way to do it is to take regular little breaks from the kids throughout the day, even for just a few minutes. My children are mostly used to this now and know Mommy needs it to maintain her sanity 🙂

  • Good insight, Sallie. Now I understand why nap time is so vital to my emotional health- it is the only time of day I get all to myself. I’m a night owl who is too tired now to stay up after my dh is asleep.

    Now I will refuse to feel guilty for needing that time to do what I want to do instead of catching up on chores or something. 🙂

  • Thanks for all the good comments. Yes, the staying at home part after the baby comes doesn’t bother me at all. I’m such a homebody already that I don’t think that will be much of an adjustment. My two main concerns about becoming a mother are:

    1. Lack of sleep early on – I know nobody does lack of sleep well, but I don’t do it well at all. I’ve even given up staying up til midnight on New Year’s Eve because I feel so yucky the next day. I usually end up sick if I don’t get enough sleep. So that concerns me for the first few months.

    2. Lack of time to myself – This is more my concern long-term. I need this like a flower needs water. So I’m already watching other bloggers for ideas about how to train a child to be more independent in playing/entertaining themselves for some time each day even though I am months and months away from that.

    Brandy – David and I are hoping and praying that Little Miss Peanut is an introvert. We’re both introverts so we understand that best and we also know it will give us a better chance of a few minutes peace to ourselves if she wants to be by herself too. If she’s an extrovert… it will be a stretching experience for us. 🙂

  • You have an interesting theory. 🙂 I knew I LOVED babies so much, and it didn’t bother me to be home with my first ones day in and day out. I am an introvert.

    However, now that I have eight TALKERS (and TALKERS and TALKERS :D) — I do find myself going off by myself a lot (periodically). My children are used to it, though. Usually they follow me if they really need me. Now the 3 year old isn’t as “sensitive” about giving me time to myself (smile) as the older ones, but she seems to be an introvert, so that helps. (When we’re out a little while, she OFTEN asks, “How long can we go home?”)

    On getting enough sleep, I HIGHLY recommend sleeping with your baby for the first 3 months or so. After that, you’re both more rested and the baby can (in my experience) be gently transitioned to sleeping by him/herself in the crib. I also recommend napping when baby naps, at least at first. You may think you have SO much to do during that time, but especially when you have only one, I think being rested pays off much more. If you really can’t bear to sleep with baby, I at least DOUBLE my recommendation to NAP when baby does. 🙂

    Susan

  • Sallie,
    Trust me: children are stretching experiences by nature. I think that’s why God gives them to us!
    It’s been said several times already, but I think you hit things on the head w/your theory. I’m definitely an introvert, and I love “doing” babies. We used to be constantly on the go when we just had a few little ones, but even so my babies allowed me to be an introvert while running all the social circles: they gave me something safe to focus on, and an excuse to be “antisocial”, if you know what I mean.
    Now that they’re older I am bothered by noise and commotion, and I find that I have to work hard (never hard enough, alas!) to stay close with them – but I find it’s easier to stay close to the extroverts, since they will come to me. The introverts are too much like me: content to find a quiet spot and be alone with their thoughts.
    So take heart if little Peanut is an extrovert: she’ll shower you with love as she gets older, and she’ll make sure you don’t grow apart!

  • yes, sleep when the baby sleeps. And no matter what personality your child is she will be exactly how God made her to be and He will give you the grace to rear her.

    Same as the lack of sleep–God doesn’t give you the grace to handle that right now because you don’t need it now. He will give you the strength for the moment when you need it.

    Don’t worry about those things–honestly. Give it to the Lord and ask for His help when you need it.

    And all the thinking, planning, praying, worrying now won’t change anything about how the baby’s personality and temperment actually turns out to be kwim?

    Just enjoy the rest of your pregnancy and take it one day at a time!

  • I think you did pretty good with it!

    Although, I got to say, my sister is very introverted, and she had two little babies with colic for what seemed like months on end. She had a difficult time being at home in those early days. She often felt trapped at home, unable to get time to think to herself. Newborns can be very demanding, and an introvert may have difficulty “thinking away from themselves” for days on end.

    I think all new mothers learn something wonderful and how to adapt to the fact (if they rely on God and accept their new role) that their lives are no longer their own. I’m sure our personalities have some effect on how quickly we adapt. But our willingness also to accept where God has placed us at the moment, with complete trust in Him, also has great affect on that adapting period.

    From my own experience (which I’ve tested borderline ‘E’ and borderline ‘I’ all my life at different testing times with the Myers-Briggs), I think that extroverted mothers don’t necessarily have a difficult time in the beginning. Being an ‘E’, which I’d have to say I was closer to when my firstborn came along, actually made getting out with baby easier. . . Breastfeeding in public was easier. Accepting my “flaws” (those things we think we do poorly at as new mothers, just really learning experiences) was easier, and I didn’t mind being in public for people to see I wasn’t that “perfect mommy” I thought I had to be. I shared my problems more openly in hopes of finding answers from experienced mothers. Being ‘E’ actually helped me to communicate more openly and willingly when I needed to do so.

    I’m very convinced that having children will change, if not obliterate, one’s personality. At least in some ways. And perhaps that God’s way of preparing us for something more in His plan.

    I couldn’t tell you if I was an ‘I’ or an ‘E’ at this time in my life with two preschoolers and another child on the way. I be what I have to be with God’s help when it’s needed. Somedays, I long to have quiet and peace alone, and then other days, I have so much patience with them and want to be with them so badly that I am amazed!

    Emily

  • I’m an INTP.

    One thing I would add, as an N, I miss intellectual conversation and stimulation during the day. (My husband’s also an INTP, although he’s borderline I/E and J/P, so I get intellectual conversation in the evening.) Reading interesting and eclectic blogs (like this one!) helps. Also, a couple we are good friends with who are both Ns moved to the area recently, so that’s been a real blessing.

    As a NP, I find keeping up with the housework the hardest part. Laundry I do fine with, but the rest is more of a challenge for me. (I did the laundry growing up, and it’s become so rote I can think about other things while folding laundry. Also, I was allowed to keep any loose change I found, so I enjoyed it for its random rewards as a child, and this has trained me to like laundry as much as is possible for me to like any housework.) However, I’m training up the next generation–today, my four year old mopped and dried the kitchen floor all by herself! We’re hoping she’s a J so we’ll have someone who enjoys cleaning around. She did enjoy mopping, and did a great job for a 4 year old.

    I don’t do well without sleep, either. The feeding plan in “On Becoming Babywise” was a lifesaver for me. My daughter slept through the night by 6 weeks and by son at 2 months.

    I attended the NOVA homeschool conference (http://www.novaconference.net/index.shtml) this past weekend. Susan Bauer (The Well Trained Mind) spoke about the importance of a quiet time every day, and explained how she worked it in her house. There were a lot of great speakers, and a lot of the advice was directed to being a good Homemaker, Wife, Mother, and Christian. There was also some good homeschooling advice. They’re going to be selling a CD Rom with all the speakers for $40 in a few weeks, I highly recommend it. (In fact, there was so much good information, my head still hurts!)

    Another book I read that was motivational and inspirational to me lately was “Lord, Meet Me in the Laundry Room.”

  • One more thing…One of the speakers at the NOVA conference, it might have been Susan Bauer, but I’m not sure, said that fair isn’t always equal. For example, sending a child to their room as a punishment is a different punishment for an introvert child and an extravert child (it might be a perceived as a reward for an introvert in a large family!)

  • I found the article here http://www.parenting.com/parenting/mom/article/0,19840,1184990,00.html

    I am an ENTJ (I think that’s the same personality type as Hitler – 🙂 Just kidding – but it is an extremely powerful type, called The Field Marshall. The article refers to it as Executive Mom and does describe me to a T. I think you are right that for extroverts, the later years are more fun as when the children get involved in outside activities, extroverts are in their element, with more variety and personal contacts.

    One of my daughters – Jasmine – is one of the very few introverts in our family (out of 12 kids, 3 spouses and 10 grandkids) and she has a completely different mothering style than I. I often wish I could be more cuddly and nurturing, but I figure God has different plans for different kids and so he needs different moms to get the job done.

  • I would have to agree with Elizabeth B. on using Babywise if you are super concerned about the sleep. I am like you and easily become ill when sleep-deprived. And maybe it is an INTP-thing to be attracted to the method (I noticed Elizabeth is one, and so am I), but I have a similar testimony of success. So far one slept through the night at 7 weeks and one at 9, and both of them also took good naps throughout the day (and still do, even the four-year-old). I don’t think Babywise works for every personality or family style, but a fairly organized introvert should easily have success with it…

  • Hi Sallie,

    I don’t have an answer for your question but a few comments about the personality type.

    I’ve been reading your blog for a few months now and learning so much from all the links in the Blogs of Beauty Awards. So encouraging!

    I just wanted to comment that I too am an INFJ. Did you know INFJ’s are very rare? Well, according to Portrait of an INFJ. Nice to know there is another INFJ out there!

  • Tracie,

    Sallie and I read the link that you sent about INFJs. That article described 99% of Sallie. Unbelievable. That’s exactly who she is.

    The 1% of the article that didn’t match her was the part about a cluttered desk. She’s the one with the VERY organized desk. I’M the one with the cluttered desk who occasionally gets the “two minute desk rescueâ„¢” treatment by Sallie.

    This post inspired me to take one of those tests. I found out I’m a ISFP. It’s neat to see how the I and the F make Sallie and I so much alike, and the S and P on my part compliments the N and J on her part.

    Now…. what will Peanut be? Hmmm……

  • Sallie,
    I think your theory was pretty accurate. I, too am supposedly an INFJ. I say supposedly because sometimes God has given me the ability to be extroverted for work, and those requirements overflowed into my personal life.

    Congratulations on your pregnancy. I am sure you’ve heard this 1,000 times or more, but enjoy those early days. They grow so quickly! My precious Hannah is almost 9 months old.
    Also, congratulations on figuring out who you are and how you’ll be with your baby in advance. I, unfortunately, read a couple of books that made me think I did not have to be true to who God made me as a mother. Of course, you can never truly figure it out until “Peanut” is here, but I lost some of the joy in my 1st 4 months by trying to listen to the advice of other people instead of my Lord.

    I do believe that God creates each child for their parents, and he will equip you to make it through the sleepless nights.

    Congratulations, again! Thanks for such an encouraging website!

  • I am, if I remember correctly, an INTJ..and I think your theory is very plausible as long as you get a quiet baby. lol My first baby rarely stopped fussing. He had colic. It is not easy to think when someone is screaming at a high pitch with no breaks.

    Here’s my advice for that. Don’t be a hero. I wouldn’t let anyone else help me when he did that, so afraid of tinkering with the bonding process. Silly. We would have bonded regardless and I would have been more rested had I handed him to someone and said I was going for a walk.

    Once after a very long crying session, I was begging this poor baby to stop for 5 minutes, just so I could take a deep breath. Finally I cried with him. Hubby came in and took him and he stopped crying immediately! We were driving each other crazy (and we still do…he’s 17). 🙂

    Remember…don’t be a hero. Just be a human mommy.

  • Oh rats. Your system deleted my long comment! 🙁

    Well, to sum it up: every person also has a “stress” personality. Often, it’s the opposite on the first factor: E/I. For example, we’ve lived in 7 different homes over the last 9 months for ministry reasons and because we went to another country to have our baby… we’re now settled in the last place (PTL!). I’m an E, and my husband is an I. But because of all the stress, he’s been more willing to deal with people than normal (‘get out and get away from it’ kind of thing), and I’ve been the recluse… almost to the point of rudeness sometimes, which I’ve had to try to get over. But after moving so many times, my normally extroverted self has been sick of meeting new people, and I just want to buckle down with the family I know and love.

    I would imagine this might commonly factor in with women at baby -time. I wonder if any other women have experienced this?

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Sallie-Schaaf-Borrink-060313-B-250x250I'm Sallie, teacher by training and now homeschooling mom of Caroline. My passion is to provide products, encouragement, and information that helps others discover and do what works with their children. I also write about living a cozy life as a highly introverted person. Welcome! ♥

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