Thursday, April 29, 2010

Motherstyles - extraversion vs introversion?

The Lake District, England - May 2008

So, you all know I'm a bit of a Motherstyles evangelist since I read the book.

I gave you my highlights when I first posted about it but I want to go through each of the letters in a little more depth.

Your motherstyle is made up of 4 letters. I'll write separate posts about the other 3 letters in the weeks to come...

The first one is an E or I, for extraversion or introversion.

Basically, it's about where you get your energy.

Are you energised after spending lots of time with people or are you energised by having lots of alone time?

Do you turn outward or inward for your energy?

When I used to do assessments, I'd explain it like this - if you walk into a party and there are tons of people there, when you get home afterwards, are you pooped (drained) or are you "on a high"?

Sometimes we work against our natural style (which causes stress) because of work or other circumstances.

E.g. I work with a guy who is Very Senior. He's a natural introvert but because of his position, he has to do presentations regularly. He can do them and does them really well because of experience and practise but really doesn't enjoy it that much because of his natural style.

It's not who you WANT to be, but who you ARE. There is such freedom in being exactly who you are, don't you find?

In the book, they say we do our best mothering when we have energy so you need to know your energy source.

I'm an E so I need lots of interaction with people to be at my best. The book says Es need to realise that their family can't provide all they need.

I found this interesting - Is have to guard their energy very closely and tire out if they don't have lots of alone time during the day.

So true. D and I used to bicker about socials such a lot in the early days of our marriage (we're married 15 years today!). He'd quite honestly be happier never seeing anybody and I'd like to get together with others two, three times a month. Yes, he's an I.

Until we settled on this brilliant compromise - we do a "together" plan once a month but I can do lots of lunch plans with my friends as much as I'd like :) Win-win. I am energised and he is left alone, mostly.

That's why (if I have any real life friends reading) it takes us such a long time to make arrangements to get together with friends.

I also have a new thing I do - the coffee plan. D can deal with people in small doses :) so if we do a quick hour/ 90 minutes, he's much more likely to want to get together.

But back to the parenting thing. Here's what stood out for me:

A strength that I particularly relate to is being able to engage in casual conversation with children. I used to say "I'm good with children" and this is what I meant because I do get along with all kids (once they can talk :) - it's the babies I don't know what to do with :)

The struggle with Es that she mentions and that I found particularly hard is this - Es find it hard being at home with babies (no social interaction, etc.). So true. Probably one of the reasons why I couldn't WAIT to go back to work from my maternity leave. Also why I enjoy the babies so much more now that they're a bit more social :)

I want to say something else - apparently the style that is most "esteemed" by mothers (especially American ones) is ESFJ. That's because 55% of the population is ESFJ. So imagine the turmoil and guilt the rest of us feel!

So who do you think you are - E or I? And your hubby? Any other insights from your life?

P.S. Saffy asked me before if an I can be a good public speaker and I said YES! Barack Obama is an I and we all know he's a great orator.

Remember, it's where you get your energy and neither E nor I is better. It's just different.


  1. I am definitely an introvert. Jesse won't answer my question. The thing with all of these personality categories is that you can be a percentage of each, and it's just the one that is stronger that you get labeled with. So, perhaps Jesse's a little more even, but I'd say he leans toward extrovert.

    As far as how it affects my parenting style, I need my own free time, apart from everything else, to energize. "Everything else" doesn't as much include Josiah as it does my other daycare clients, dr's appointments, all of my creative endeavors, family events, etc. I can last much longer if I get a break from everything else even if I still have Josiah, but at least some time during the week, I enjoy a break from him as well.

    I don't do well in huge social groups either. I mean, I can do them, as you said, but they wear me out much more. But in small groups, I thrive.

    Happy anniversary! 15 years is quite a big deal! Hope you celebrate it in an extra special way.

  2. Happy anniversary!!!

    I'm so totally an E and Walter is so totally an I and I suppose thats why we work so well together! As a couple I mean, we so could NOT work together in an office environment, we'd probably kill each other.

  3. Oh I need to read more on this, because some days I totally love to be alone and get so much from it. But everybody thinks I am an E. I love people, but not crowds, not too many. One on one - great! So that makes me? I?

  4. I'm an E, but my husband is an I. I think we balance each other out... :)

  5. I am an E, but Husband is an I (with an emerging E side). What I mean by emerging is once we're out, he's fine and has a good's getting there and breaking his normal routine that he!

  6. Happy Anniversary! Of course Husband and I fit exactly with you and D. :)

  7. I am def. an "I". I have to have alone time every night doing something I want to do. I am very aware of this need and make sure I get it. My husband completely understands and is more than happy (when he is home) to leave me alone for a bit and let me get my quiet time. I have a very easy time with babies. They nap and leave me be to get things done (LOL) My older kids challenge me more. I got used to it real quick, but I do notice myself getting tense and feeling drained when I haven't had just 5 minutes of peace.

    My husband is pretty much even kill. I would say he is more of an E. He has to be around people or he will not be happy. But he also values alone time (could be just because he had to get used to me needing it and he enjoys time by himself to read or do his own thing.) This works perfectly for us. He works and gets social interaction and I stay at home and don't have to be around a lot of people unless I want to be.

  8. Okay... reading the comments I find it really interesting that most couples are opposits of each other. Is this usually how it is?

  9. Happy Anniversary!

    One of my co-workers invites new employees to take the Myers Brigg personality test, and has records of our coworkers' personality types going back three decades. It's fascinating. We're in software, so folks are mostly I, but I'm ENFJ. Lucas is INTP. I remember reading somewhere that people are drawn to their opposite personality type. When LauraC recommended MotherStyles, I immediate forwarded the book link to my friend April, who has the same personality type I do, saying, "So THAT'S why we see eye-to-eye on parenting!"

    Jessica's an I, but she's very outgoing, very verbal, very empathic. She just needs time away from people for a few minutes every day to decompress. Still, she's more likely than Melody, my E, to introduce herself to a stranger. Melly's usually too busy talking to bother with introductions.

  10. Thanks to you, I officially know that I'm an "I"! Jeremy falls somewhere in the middle, but I suspect he's actually an E. He does much, much better with groups of people than I do. One thing that has made my life much less stressful since the babies were born is making sure that I have some time alone. It works out that J works a different shift, because 4 nights a week, I get to be completely alone to do whatever I want after the babies go to bed!

    Happy anniversary, by the way!!

  11. Firstly, HAPPY ANNIVERSARY!!!! :) 15 years. 1.5 decades. Such a nice event. Congrats, congrats, congrats.

    I thought I was an E. I always had. Mostly because I was always voted student leader at school, am a confident public speaker and like to chat to people. My logic would've fitted with Cat's. But actually I'm probably more I than E. I do my best work in silence - usually at home, uniterrupted. I love home. I love my little sanctuary. Like Mandy, I thrive in small groups, but DETEST shopping malls.

    B is TOTALLY an I. But he's in software development :p Sorry - I'm stereotyping. A friend has a party coming up - a big themed one - and I think we should go. He offered to stay home and babysit the minx.

    That stat about 55% being ESFJ. Do you think that 55% are *really* ESFJ or they tick the boxes to portay that image because they want to conform? I'm always suspicious after the pedi told me about people telling porkies about their kids developmental stages :)

    Thanks for such a smart post.


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