INTJs are "Individual Integrity" mothers. As people who define their success from within, we spend a great deal of time developing self-esteem, confidence, independent thinking, and self-sufficiency in our children while still providing protection and boundaries. But we also struggle with the noise and confusion of family life, mothering confidence, and leading a balanced life. To quote:
The INTJ mother may need more time alone away from her children than many other mothers.
You don't say. I'll take that as permission, thank you. And did I mention that I love this book? Because I do. Janet P. Penley, author of MotherStyles, does us all a favor and recognizes that we (as in you, me, and Gandhi) are at our best when we embrace who we are, play to our own strengths, and find ways of compensating for our weaknesses. She asks, among many other questions:
Do you think a good mother should...provide structure, consistency, and order? Be tolerant, flexible, and go with the flow?
It may seem obvious, but those descriptions are opposites, impossible to achieve in the same moment, and there is a lot of gray area between those two ways of being. And from what I have gathered, gray is a good color for raising children. Or to paraphrase Penley: be a mother, but first be yourself; and then, let your kids be who they are.
So simple, so freeing, so profound. So not the way I was raised. The world contains a lot of people who have a lot of ideas about how a lot of things should be done. One of those things is raising kids. Most people get their ideas either from examples (that's just what is done) or book learnin', observation, and contemplation. And most people take their ideas very seriously, after all, the fate of their children and (therefore, by implication) your children depends on doing things the right way. Which usually means their way. After all, most people believe in their way or they wouldn't be doing it.
But what if you find yourself only able to be spontaneous if you block out time for spontaneity in advance? What if being spontaneous gives you hives? And what if the idea of the same old thing every day just drives you nuts? What if you just can't live without the occasional impromptu fun? Should you not do it because it's not in the schedule?
Penley does not judge, she just gives the facts with compassion and some solid reflection and advice for each mothering type. She advises each mother to embrace her own natural mothering style. And, Hank bless her, she spends a little extra time on addressing the rarer types such as INTJ, INTP, ENTJ, INFJ, ISTP, and ENTP (each roughly 1-4% of the population).
Because, guess what, "ISFJ, ESFJ, ESFP, and ISFP, all together account for about 55 percent of the female population." Penley says these four types of women are more likely to feel in sync with mainstream culture and to be supported for being who they are. They set the norm. But if you are not one of these types, you're likely find yourself out of sync and uncertain because what works and makes sense for you isn't the mainstream-approved "right" way.
I find a lot of solace in knowing that the reason I feel different is because I am different. Not defective. Not inferior. Just different. And trying to mother like an ESFP makes about as much sense as Kate Moss wearing a size 12 because the average women does. It just doesn't fit. Girlfriend needs a double zero (00). While other women, like maybe me, need a go-to range of sizes because we, ahem, evolve.
While some mothers might struggle to understand a child who is different, an INTJ mother values non-conformity and respects her child's differences. But the INTJ mother often struggles with the inherent noise and disorder of raising children. INTJ moms get drained by the bustle of togetherness. Some moms need relaxation and fun to rejuvenate, but INTJ moms would be happier going for a walk alone or taking a self-improvement class.
And then there are the kids. Thinking-type moms can be nightmares for feeling-type children if they aren't tuned into their kids emotional needs. INTJs prefer practical and concrete expressions of love to sentiment. But above all, we value systems that work and are more than willing to tailor our communication to meet that end.
Interpersonal dynamics is not the same as ettiquette. Just knowing which fork to use for the salad isn't enough. You have to be able to communicate that information to a deaf person, a blind person, and a martian. And to do that well, you have to account for them being different from you. Otherwise simple communication becomes frustrating and opens the door to a lot of misunderstanding. For the thinking types, this means unnecessary confusion, inefficiency, and
uncomfortable displays of other's emotion , which is both confusing and inefficient. For the feeling types, this means hurt feelings and guilt.
In other words, yuck and muck all the way around. Even if we have different reasons for our preferences, no type wants yuck and muck. Except for maybe the sociopath type, but that's a different book.
Thank you, Janet P. Penley for providing a guidebook, which is to my view, the mother-child equivalent of Babblefish. I plan on getting a lot of use out of it over the years.