Over the years I’ve invested a lot of energy into understanding my child and the way God created her as an individual. I’ve written about that journey from many different angles in the hope it would help other parents who find my posts.
Lately I’ve been reading more about the INFP type now that Caroline and I have determined it best describes her. In the midst of all these years of parenting, I didn’t spend much time at all trying to figure out Caroline’s personality type for a variety of reasons I don’t need to get into there. But it’s interesting how when I look at it now it draws together many different ideas I’ve engaged with over the years.
I made this observation some time ago in Gifted Children Don’t Know Life Any Other Way:
One of the things we’ve learned about Caroline’s particular bent is that playing with stuffed animals and acting out their stories is not an option. It is a daily necessity. It is like sleep, food, air, and water. It is a basic need in her life. It’s not even a need for play. It is a need for how she processes information. If she doesn’t get it, it negatively impacts her just as it would if we denied her food or sleep or water. We know this as a fact because when she doesn’t get this kind of play time, something in her dies a bit until that need is met.
And she doesn’t know how to be any other way.
That is her reality and how she is wired just like I don’t understand how people can go through life and not be soaking up information all day long.
All gifted children have their “thing” and they don’t know life without it. It is as natural to them as breathing. It is a necessary part of their life. It would be easy for me to look at Caroline’s play with stuffed animals and think it is a childish thing, but it’s not about the stuffed animals, per se. It’s about what they allow her to do and a huge need they meet in her life. They aren’t toys. They are tools.
I don’t know where it is the INFP personality and where it is the giftedness, but it’s all there.
In a description of the INFP, this observation is made:
INFPs never seem to lose their sense of wonder. One might say they see life through rose-colored glasses. It’s as though they live at the edge of a looking-glass world where mundane objects come to life, where flora and fauna take on near-human qualities.
INFP children often exhibit this in a ‘Calvin and Hobbes’ fashion, switching from reality to fantasy and back again. With few exceptions, it is the NF child who readily develops imaginary playmates (as with Anne of Green Gables’s “bookcase girlfriend”–her own reflection) and whose stuffed animals come to life like the Velveteen Rabbit and the Skin Horse.
It is not an exaggeration to say that Caroline and David played with her stuffed animals for a minimum of an hour or two every single day for years. Not weeks. Not months. Literally years. Hours every day with very few days missed. It was as much a part of our daily routine as eating and sleeping. They made up personalities and stories for the vast majority of the stuffed animals. One particular group of stuffed animals has an entire on-going story that went on for years. They still talk about it and reference it to this day. Aspects of it have become part of our family vocabulary.
Keep in mind that Caroline is an only child who is homeschooled so we are her playmates and daily companions. How this would have played out if we had more children or she had a daddy who worked outside the home, I do not know. But God in His Providence gave Caroline a daddy who was available, creatively minded, and chose to invest this time in her.
If you are a parenting an INFP child, your child may have a similar need. It might not be of the same intensity. Your options for meeting that need might be different. But it is a need that should be met. Remember, your child didn’t decide to be this way. She was created this way by God. It’s all she knows. Our responsibility as parents is to be a good steward of our child’s way of interacting with the world and slowly teach her to take over that responsibility for herself as she prepares to enter the adult world.