PTO meetings kind of freak me out.
They are full of parents looking in charge and organized with day planners, iPads and mobile electronic schedules. They are planning events, hosting fundraisers and desperately searching for volunteers to help. I want to help, but navigating social situations is like walking up a set of stairs backwards for me.
It’s not that I don’t enjoy being around people completely. As a matter of fact, I can identify with this recent post I read on elephant journal about being an introvert. It’s just that being around a crowd can sometimes be intimidating and I would rather bake some cookies or donate a few dollars than sit in a meeting full of parents I don’t know very well for two hours.
The problem comes into play when you have a child that is truly an extrovert at heart. My youngest daughter is quick to make friends. I used to joke that she could make friends with a tree. She loves socializing and people are drawn to her.
I knew I was in trouble when she was seven years old and we were at my older son’s cub scouts banquet. Two of the boys went up to the buffet table and brought her back desserts. She is frequently invited to parties and sleep-overs and thoroughly enjoys being invited.
I don’t want my introverted personality to squash my extroverted child from being who she is, so navigating these situations can be tricky. I find myself getting frustrated when my kids want to have friends over and struggle with sports meetings and school functions. This can be extremely conflicting since I want to be an involved mom.
So what can you do if you are an introverted parent?
1. Accept yourself for who you are.
Trying to be someone you aren’t most likely comes across as fake and awkward. So you are a quiet person and do not enjoy socializing as often as some people. Give yourself the freedom to be yourself and know you have limits.
2. Take advantage of one-on-one time with people.
Most introverts have a difficult time in groups, but feel at ease talking with one or two people. Use this time to build friendships that will last. It’s always easier to attend a school function if you have a friend to sit near.
3. If you have a skill, use it.
Many introverted people are writers, painters, musicians or mechanics. So you don’t enjoy making phone calls to solicit business to donate to the football team? Offer to create a flyer, website, or whatever else you excel in. You can participate in ways that are comfortable for you.
4. Pull up your boot straps and invite people over.
Yes, I did just say that. I know, that sounds like a lot of work to an introvert. If your kids are extroverts, they feel more energized by being with their friends. Invite a small group and set a limit to when the event ends. I know for myself I am okay with my kids having friends over if I know they will leave at a certain time.
5. Give yourself down time.
Socializing can drain a more introverted person. The best way to recover is to read a book, write, go for a walk or do whatever you most like doing alone. You will thank yourself for it and not be too crabby around your family.
Being an introverted parent with extroverted kids is definitely a challenge. Being able to deal with it works best if you can understand each other’s needs.
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Ed: Sara Crolick