Friday, June 14, 2013


My book club read a powerful book this month. Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain is a fascinating treatise on how American culture values extroverted people significantly more than introverted people and how that plays out in our society. The author makes a strong case that this is a big mistake. (You can hear Susan Cain give a brief overview of her findings in her TED Talk.) The women who gathered to discuss the book were split between introverts and extroverts six to four. When everyone in the group is present we are nearly evenly divided but clearly the introverts were excited to talk about this book! As they spoke it became increasingly obvious how much they related to the author's words and how misunderstood, undervalued, or out of place they sometimes felt.

As the discussion continued we noted that many of us had both kinds of children and the extroverts in the group clearly felt that they understood their extroverted children better than their introverted children, while the introverted mothers felt they understood their extroverted child(ren) well but were sometimes exhausted by them.

This is a rich fountain of the kinds of ideas on family and faith dynamics that fascinate me and I have been thinking about it a lot. Here are a few things I think parents might want to know:
  • Introverts and extroverts are both created in the image of God. 
  • If you are an extroverted parent raising an introverted child, get thee to Amazon and buy this book. You will appreciate a look at life from the other side.
  • Your child's feelings about public speaking have nothing to do with their intro- or extro- version.
  • Both types of children need lots of reassurance that they are valuable but your introverted child may need more of that from you because they get less of it elsewhere.
  • We are part of a society that values how things look. Make sure you look past the presentation to the content when dealing with your children - sometimes the most grandly presented speech is completely devoid of any meaningful content while the low-key and simply presented speech can be filled with profound observations.
  • Don't feel that you have to fill up every silence. Leave room for the less talkative (more introverted) child to offer a topic of conversation that interests him or her.
  • Jesus may be the only true ambivert (a person perfectly balanced between being an extrovert and an introvert.)
  • Help your child learn to live out their own extroversion or introversion, and help them to appreciate the gifts of their friends and siblings who are the opposite.
One more way to look at God's amazing creation! Every creature unique, and gifted for the life of the world. Can you imagine the possibilities as you look at your child?

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