Fatherhood Friday

I am an introvert and it is affecting my parenting

Being a SAHD, outside contact is limited without an effort made to strike out and make said contact. Up until now it wasn’t a big deal because I was taking two university classes which enabled me to get out of the house, sans baby, for a couple of hours each day. My son was also under 6 months old and still getting used to this world, so taking him out and about wasn’t a big priority. That and he enjoyed sleeping. ๐Ÿ™‚

But now with school over, and a son just over 6 months with more energy and enthusiasm for life everyday, I’m looking to get out and do things with him. The problem is that it scares me.

See, I am an introvert, and while not severe enough that I shun all human contact, it does severely discourage it. New situations scare me. New people scare me. Crowds are draining. Loud places are draining. Talking to people is draining.

So the rational part of me wants to get out there and meet new people. It wants to go to the park and sit down and talk to other parents. It wants to go to playgroups and things like that. It wants to be normal. But this crazy introvert side of me doesn’t let me. It turns my stomach into a writhing mess. My palms sweat. My heart races. My breathing increases. And this is just at the thought of going out and doing something like that. And I know 95% of the time it is fine. People are generally really great, but I just hate that initial awkward phase. I can’t just go over to someone and say hi. So I end up standing there like a tool.

This is something that has always plagued me. It isn’t something I thought about these past 6 months, but now that I actually want to get out and do something, all these introvert responses begin to turn on and I’m frozen. I start to check into things and see what is out there, but it stops there. I never take that next step and go out and do things. A step that in my head seems really simple when looked at objectively. But I just get stuck.

This is something I need to work on as a dad. He’s only 6 months old and I’m struggling with going out to new things. What am I going to be like when he starts activities? When he starts school? Not even just my mental state, but I am displaying this overly-introverted attitude and he will pick up on that. This isn’t a character trait I want to pass on to my son. At least not this severe. My wife and I are both introverts, but I seem to be a little more so. Or maybe she’s just better at dealing with it. ๐Ÿ™‚

Anyway, this is something about fatherhood I hadn’t really thought about and it kind of crept up on me this week. It is an issue that I need to address sooner rather than later. I don’t want my own issues and insecurities to affect my child. Other parents must deal with this. What do they do? How do they address their insecurities so they don’t negatively impact their children’s lives? This isn’t something that comes across online, of which I am a prime example. I love talking to people on line. I’m making lots of friendships/connections through twitter because there is none of the anxiety. This is a “irl” (in real life) sort of problem.

For more great Fatherhood Friday posts, check out Dad-Blogs.com. It is a great community for dads (and moms). There were 30 contributors last week which makes for lots of good reading.

Fatherhood Friday at Dad Blogs

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8 thoughts on “I am an introvert and it is affecting my parenting

  1. Starting conversations really is much harder than people realize. Mums will automatically start talking to each other at kid’s groups and at parks but Dads just don’t, we aren’t built for it.

  2. I am an extrovert and my wife is an introvert. She is a stay at home mom. I am the one pushing us all the time to get out there and meet people, schedule play-dates for our son (who is 6).

    I think the one thing that has helped her is signing up our kids for classes at the YMCA. Right now she is taking our 3 year-old daughter to a gymnastics class. But both of our kids are involved in alot of activities at the Y which isn’t always the most social thing but I think it does help in meeting other people.

  3. It sounds to me like the hardest part is just facing up to your initial fear and getting yourself out the door. I think you’ll find that, when you have a baby with you, it could possibly be a little bit easier to make the kind of connections you’re thinking about and get past than initial awkwardness. But I am a bit of a introvert as well (with an extrovert streak though), so I can relate to this. And think of it this way: when you see other dads (in particular) out with their young kids, they might be thinking about these same kind of issues!

    BTW, based on your profile, you got some things in common with relatives of mine. My late father was a bow hunter and he’s in the Pope & Young record book for a deer he got around 1960. And my brother-in-law is a bass play who has been involved with the rock scene in Philadelphia for many years.

    Rich

  4. For me, it’s helped to get into regular routines. For example, if you take your kids to a play group the same time every week, you’re going to run into the same people and conversation will become easier.

    I imagine this is something you’ll need to figure out as you become a pastor. My pastor is an introvert, but he’s learned to make it work. Conversation can be hard, but it’s usually worth the effort.

  5. My wife is an introvert, although it’s a little worse than that. She’s been diagnosed with Social Anxiety Disorder, which is funny (not funny?) because the acronym for that is SAD. She has made great strides though in the 10 years we’ve been together, and having the little fella kicked in her Mama Bear instinct which has helped her to overcome a lot.

    She still has days she doesn’t want to be around people…but it’s getting better.

  6. I suffered for years with a social anxiety disorder, so I can understand what nervousness around others, especially those you don’t know well, feels like.

    It took years for God to help me overcome this disorder (and I’m not saying you have an extreme disorder like I did); it was slow going, but prayer and Christ’s grace through the sacraments ultimately conquered. I also saw a psychologist who helped a bit as well. May Christ richly bless you!

  7. Thanks for all the comments guys.

    @Glen: Conversation starters are not my forte. If ppl could just skip the pleasantries and go to real conversation, I’d do better. ๐Ÿ™‚

    @Lutheran: I can see the appeal in enrolling them in things just to help get out of the house. Right now my little guy is only 6 months old, so that’s tough. It’s like a small step though, which I like. I don’t have to commit to talking to ppl like at a playgroup, but my son still gets to do things, and I am introduced to a social setting without expectations.

    @Rich: Good point. Babies (and kids in general) make good topics of conversation; a sort of social lubricant. And yay for bass players and hunters. P&Y, that’s awesome!

    @James: Someone else mentioned getting into a routine as well. Then it is more of a slow build into the social situation.

    @Brandon and Devin: I’ve been hearing more and more about SAD. It can be pretty brutal. My wife likes to joke that I suffer from it, and maybe to some degree, but I like to think that I can manage it. Some days that seems easier than others.

  8. I’m an introverted SAH mom, and this issue of getting out of the house more and not letting my temperament affect my child’s need to socialize is something that I have been thinking about a lot for the past few weeks. I’ve especially been thinking about this because my daughter displays extroverted characteristics, adn I don’t want to hinder her chance to express her personality by remaining cooped up in the house, all the time.

    In addition to being introverted, I have also dealt with social anxiety in the past, but I am much more comfortable now when socializing, than I was a few years ago. It’s just that I’m not good at initiating conversations. I find that when I do happen to see other parents while I’m out with my daughter, I do feel comfortable talking to people about my daughter and things having to do with parenting. But that’s really only because those topics are a built in conversation starter. But I find that I am uncomfortable trying to get a conversation going beyond those topics. And I fear making a fool of myself.

    Just today, I found a pamphlet, in the local library, about activities for my daughter’s age group, and I am definitely going to take advantage of the opportunity to get her involved in a couple of the activities, so that she and I can get out of the house more, and she will have a chance to make some friends.

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