I recently had a lightbulb moment. I found out the reason why I parent the way I do and why I feel a certain way about parenting. It is all very simple. So simple that I felt a little stupid for not knowing about it until now. The very simple reason is : personality & parenting. A person’s personality affects her parenting. I am an introvert.
I have always known that I am an introvert. I have done the Myers-Briggs Personality test before. I recently did it again. It’s just that I have never linked my personality type with my parenting. Recently, I read some articles on personality type and parenting and realised that this explains why I feel the way I feel and do things that way I do. I used to feel mommy-guilt about certain things that I like/dislike, do/don’t do. For instance, I like time alone and often feel that I need to get away from my children. Major mommy-guilt inducing factor. Good mothers love their kids and won’t feel like they would love to abandon them sometimes. I am a bad mother because I don’t feel such strong ties. I feel all the more guilty when I go out with friends who, without fail, will be on the phone with their kids to catch up with them, even when they are just apart from their kids for that 2-3 hours. Me? I relish that 2 to 3 hours of not hearing from my kids. When people talk about the dilemma of going on a kids-free holiday because they think they would miss their kids too much to enjoy the trip, I thought they must be (a) trying to fake how attached they are to their kids, (b) they are stark raving mad, or ( c) have needy personality who cannot go one day without feeling needed by their kids. Why? Because a kids-free holiday would be heavenly for me. I have gone on a one week trip without my kids and I didn’t miss them one bit. In fact, I thoroughly enjoyed myself. Then, I started wondering if there was something wrong with me. Shouldn’t I at least miss them a teeny little bit? I started wondering if I love my kids at all. What kind of bad mother am I?
Attachment Parenting is something that I could never really come to terms with. Even though I breastfed and strongly believe in breastfeeding; even though I used the baby sling, I just could not call myself an “attached parent”. Demand feeding basically drove me nuts, especially when it was done round the clock. I could handle demand feeding during the day (after getting used to it), but there must be a portion of the day where I get a break, and naturally, that would be the night. #3 was demand-fed and woke up every 2 hours at night until he was 16 months old. Attachment Parenting advocates make it sound that every mother should enjoy this, but I didn’t. At 16 months, I have had enough, and weaned the boy off night feeds. In fact, on hindsight, I think I did pretty well for an introvert to have hung on until 16 months. I need structure and organisation in life and demand feeding throws this off completely. This is why scheduled feeding (with adjustment to breastfeeding) actually helped me to succeed in breastfeeding for the very first time. Who knows how many introvert new mothers fail at breastfeeding because demand feeding is just too much for them to handle?
Co-sleeping was out of the question. Apart from the fact that I really cannot sleep if there is a kid in my bed, I need my space (and I don’t mean the physical space on the bed). If I cannot get away from the kids during the day, then I need my space and my time during sleep time, even if it is only for half the night.
Babywearing? Are you kidding? It tired my out both physically and mentally. To a large extent, I did not have a choice as my kids were all sticky babies. I did not relish having a human appendage. My aim was always to get them off me as soon as possible, as much as possible. I enjoyed having my babies with me, don’t get me wrong. But I enjoyed them more when they were not stuck to me like chewing gum.
Even now, I often have periods of time I don’t want to talk to anyone or listen to anyone, especially my kids because they talk non-stop. I used to say that my ideal holiday would be to spend a few days in outerspace all by myself because I would not need to talk to anyone and the complete silence would be marvellous.
I used to feel abnormal as a mother. This is especially so when the prevailing parenting trend is attachment parenting with all that co-sleeping, babywearing, spending every waking moment of your life engaging your kids. Ok, I know some AP people are going to start on the philosophical part of AP and all that ‘attachment parenting is more than breastfeeding, co-sleeping and babywearing’ rhetoric. You guys know what I mean. Right? Anyway, this is not about attachment parenting only but parenting as a whole.
At times, I wonder if I am too ‘cold and unfeeling’. There are certain feelings I do not dare to share with people for fear of being judged because these feelings do not fall within the perceived ‘acceptable norm’. Now that I understand myself and why I parent the way I parent, it is a great relief to know that I am not abnormal or bad. It is just the way I am. There is nothing wrong with me. Furthermore, knowing this helps me to adjust my expectation of myself and my children and I learn to be more conscious of the things I do and I learn to work around my needs vs their needs.
Do you know what personality type you are and how it affects the way your parent? Also, do you know your children’s personality type? Right now, I do not think my children and I are at polar opposite end of the spectrum so it is not too bad.
In case you are wondering, I am an INFJ. It is supposed to be very rare. Who would have thought?
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