On Being The Mom Of An Extrovert (When I’m Not One Myself)

She’s like a magnet for people, isn’t she?” he said.

We were sitting, as we do every Friday morning, enjoying our Starbucks mommy/daughter treat, when this comment was offered. My little girl was chattering away to, well, everyone really, about her new coloring book.

As she colored, she gave a running commentary. Everyone near us stopped to listen.

A woman sitting with her two children smiled. Her older daughter looked on, fascinated, completely engaged, as my little girl explained that it was a Sophia coloring book. Do you like Sophia?

The man, a regular who we often see, laughed as my daughter asked, “Do you want to do some coloring?”

I’m used to the effect my daughter has on people. She is outgoing, confident, friendly, kind.

But a magnet? Well, I hadn’t thought of her like that before.

To be honest, I’m generally more aware of how overwhelming she can be. How in your face. Enthusiastic and opinionated and demanding.

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Frankly, I am often cringing inside as I try to reign her in — just a little. I can’t bear the thought of squashing that wonderful personality, but sometimes I wish she was just a little less: less loud, less outgoing, less gregarious.

Less of an extrovert.

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But then she might also be less friendly, less inclusive, less thoughtful. Less her.

My internal cringing says far more about me than it does her.

Nevertheless, I’m finding the parenting of this bundle of confidence difficult. The truth is, having such an extrovert child is exhausting. It is constant. It is draining.

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In social situations where I might stay on the edge, I can’t. She does the butting in for me. Where I might stay quiet and just listen, I can’t. She’s right there in the middle of the conversation.

I need to strike a balance between encouraging her confidence, and teaching her restraint and social intelligence. I need to teach her that not everyone is as confident as she is, that she needs to tread more lightly sometimes.

I have to check my own natural tendency towards shyness. She is not me, and I should not expect her to be — or react — like me. I must not hold her back just because I feel awkward.

It is wonderful that she is outgoing and fearless, and it will ultimately serve her well.

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