When I first became a mother, I had no idea I was an INFJ personality type, but looking back, I can now understand why I struggled so much. Being a mom is hard enough, but being and INFJ mom (or dad) poses some unique challenges. Fortunately, it also has some incredible benefits.
As an INFJ mom, these values were important to me: always be true to yourself, do your best, be honest, and do the right thing.
And, be in the moment (especially difficult for INFJs, so still learning).
A Creative Side to INFJ Parents
There are no downsides to this one, but I wanted to bring it up when discussing parenting because it’s a strong trait that makes life a little easier, and way more fun.
Creativity is a natural part of the INFJ personality, so it comes easily in the form of pretend play, big ideas, and making things. Fostering imagination and creativity in your children is pretty easy when you’re an INFJ, and that creativity becomes an outlet for both you and your child (or children).
I started crafting with my kids. We would make our own wrapping paper, paint pots and crochet scarves for birthday gifts, and make our own wall decorations. We even painted a huge picture together on one of our walls. We’ve played with everything from clay and paint to yarn and paper. We also danced a lot, played games in the dark, and had plenty of snowball fights.
These are the special moments, so I encourage you to grab hold of every opportunity to create, whether it’s making up stories or making a puppet.
Introversion – Self Care Conundrum
The first preference I want to start off with is introversion because I think this is one part of being an INFJ mother or father that can really get in the way. Introversion describes how an INFJ gives and receives energy. We recharge our batteries by being alone.
The problem is that being alone when you’re a parent is a pretty rare occasion. Kids, especially young ones, are loud, chaotic, highly active, and require a ton of energy. And, you can’t usually break away from them when you’re home. They are in constant need of your time and attention. So how do you get a breather to recharge?
You schedule in some self care. It’s not selfish to take a break from your kids. Some teenagers may actually make you feel like running away, so it’s really important that you are up to the task of being there for your child, and the only way that’s possible is with self care. Schedule it, whether it’s time alone in the bathroom or reading a book while your having your morning tea or coffee before the kids get up.
I escaped to a nice, hot bubble bath with a good book or a cup of tea at my side. Of course, I could still hear the kids through the locked door, but my husband had them and I didn’t need to worry. I would lounge around in there for an hour before coming out re-energized, smiling, and ready to interact with my sweet girls again.
Think of it this way. This isn’t for you (ok, it’s kind of for you), it’s for the kids. How can you be your best self if you’re burnt out, moody, and uninspired?
Intuition – Living in the Future
INFJs have an intuition function to naturally recognize patterns and details and develop a big picture. The information we gather here is then used by our feeling process to draw conclusions. This covers just about anything, from vacations, relationships, and financial decisions to play dates and potential danger, and this is usually a good thing. It protects us and keeps us from making poor decisions.
On the flip side, obsessing about the future can put us in a state of worry about things we have no control over. This is especially true with children. There are so many decisions to be made during their lives, and we always want to keep them safe and sound, but can we really do that and keep our sanity?
I struggled over every decision, falling down a rabbit hole of fear and anxiety. I wanted to control the outcome; somehow guarantee their safety and good choices. That’s our judging function hard at work dictating structure over chaos.
All the while, the decisions got bigger and more complex as my children got older.
I wasn’t a fan of parties, but my teenager wanted to attend one. Although I wanted her to know that I trusted her, I was weary of who was going to be there, alcohol, etc. I told her I would pick her up anywhere. I told her I would help her friends too. I told her to never put herself in a vulnerable position. Then, I told her she could go. Turns out, she left the party early to go to a friend’s house.
Being a J-type doesn’t mean you can’t let go of control. You just have to teach yourself how, since it doesn’t come naturally. If something is not within your control, take a deep breath and have faith in your child, friend, whoever or whatever it is that you are fretting over.
You’ll definitely lose some sleep until you get the hang of it, but keep in mind that 99% of the time, things work out just fine.
Feeling – Our Emotions Run Deep
Because INFJs make decisions through how we feel, we tend to use our gut feeling as guidance. INFJs are usually very loving, nurturing, compassionate, and deeply empathetic parents.
The nurturer in me never wanted my children to feel afraid, so I made myself, and our home, their personal safe place. I invited them to come to me for anything, even if it was scary or uncomfortable, and did not judge them or get angry at what they brought up in these conversations.
We did our best to answer questions, share ideas, and allowed them to question everything, even if we didn’t know all of the answers. We wanted them to come to their own conclusions and build their own beliefs, thoughts, and ideas. We wanted independent thinkers.
Of course, once they became teenagers, their independence became a real pain in the ass. I read somewhere that it’s supposed to make their transition to adulthood a little easier for both the parents and the children, but I didn’t find that to be the case. All I could do was be there, listen, and love them, even if they weren’t my biggest fans.
Empathy made handing out discipline difficult for me. Even when my kids did something wrong, whether we called them out on it or they came forward on their own, we felt that it was more important to talk about it than to punish them (although we did ground them once in a great while).
One of the biggest downsides to being a deeply empathetic parent (INFJ or other feeling personalities) is that your children won’t necessarily be like you. This makes everything more difficult, especially communication.
“So, an INFJ and ENTJ walk into a room….”
My oldest (“the commander”), an ENTJ, argues like she’s defending an accused murderer on Law and Order, even as a young adult. She’s relentless, confident, and strong-willed. Pretty much the opposite of me, the INFJ.
There have been times where my biggest fear was to have to walk into her bedroom and face her in any sort of conflict…especially a big one. I love her and always feel great empathy for whatever she’s going through, but I also feel like I’m being interrogated by a vicious lawyer with big brown eyes and ringlets.
And, it’s difficult for her too….
In trying to get her to talk to me, she screamed at me with tears streaming down her face, “Why would God give me a mother like you?”. Yes, initially devastating, but I knew the answer. She needed me to help her to express her emotions, just as I needed her to help me see the silver lining, come up with big ideas, or win an argument. 🙂
The best upside to being a feeler is that I know when someone I love is struggling or in pain. I can just sense it in the air, or in their tone of voice, or in the way they carry themselves. This trait is especially useful for a child who doesn’t say much or buries his or her feelings. Empathy also comes into play here, which helps your child know that you understand and support them.
Judging – The Perfect-ionist Parent
The INFJ mother or father approaches life from a “judging” function that facilitates perfection, cleanliness, and a structured environment, which is obviously not always conducive to parenting children.
In some respects, it’s ideal. We keep a clean home, can organize a crazy schedule (my kids were in every sport and activity), and plan a great party. We also have a plan for getting sleepy heads out of bed and to school on time. What we don’t have is the ability to be perfect parents. None of us do.
Being an INFJ mother myself, this can be problematic because we constantly strive for perfection in all areas of our life. Perfect blog post, perfect sandwich, perfect vacation, perfect house, perfect parenting. You know what I mean. It’s an impossible goal, but we still think we can do it.
Essentially, INFJs take parenting very seriously and we don’t want to screw it up, so when we make a mistake, we beat ourselves up about it, sometimes for years. We internalize it, replay it, and rarely forgive ourselves.
In the middle of an argument with one of my teenagers, I got overwhelmed, conceded and stopped talking. I was very upset and didn’t know what to say, so I didn’t say much of anything. For 3 days, I answered her questions and went through all the motions of mom stuff, but I wasn’t myself. It really hurt her. I apologized, but she carried it around for years, and because of that, so did I.
The thing is, nobody is a perfect parent, me included. I’m passive aggressive, quick-tempered, impatient, have shoddy coping skills, and my worrying almost always leads to smothering rather than mothering.
Fortunately, this is how we learn and grow as parents.
You’re going to make mistakes. Raising kids is both wonderful and difficult, and you’re always going to dedicate yourself to doing it better than your parents did, but you’re just part of an endless cycle of parenting. In 50 or 100 years, maybe there’ll be perfect parents.
Final Thoughts: To be or not to be an INFJ mother
I haven’t seen many INFJ men do this, but I have seen INFJ women in forums asking if they should become mothers. To every woman out there, I want to say, you should not base this decision on your personality type. It really shouldn’t even be part of the equation, BUT…
…the fact that you’re looking up your personality for parenting is already a great indication you would be a loving parent. You are already preparing yourself. Knowing some of the benefits and challenges you could be facing as an INFJ mother beforehand may prove to be helpful, and that’s the only reason I’m sharing my experience with you.
Keep in mind that every single INFJ is different from the next, and that INFJs really do make excellent parents, even with our unique challenges, but everyone has challenges when it comes to parenting because kids are all different too! And…there really is no manual.
I was very nervous when I found out I was pregnant. I wasn’t sure I could be a good mother, and even after I had both of my kids and they were toddlers, I still felt like I wasn’t the right person for the job, as much as I loved them. But, as time went on, I started to feel like I was exactly who they needed, and I wouldn’t change a thing – not even the mistakes.
I am a full-on, textbook INFJ mother with a side of sensitivity, and my husband of 25+ years is a very analytical ENTP. We are so very different when it comes to parenting, but we both somehow bring just what’s needed to the table.
We have made mistakes, said the wrong things, dropped the ball, and a million other things, but we love our children to the ends of the earth, and can only hope that they forgive us. The fact is, they do and say stupid things and so do we…but somehow, it works itself out.
Our children have turned out to be independent, confident, well-rounded, highly intelligent, strong, almost fearless adults. We are incredibly proud of them both. And, you know what? They still call and visit us, ask advice, and tell us how their week went. You can’t really ask for more than that.
You really only need one thing to be a great parent, and that’s love. If you have that, everything else will fall into place.
If you’re an INFJ mom or dad, what have you found to be the most challenging or rewarding about parenting? If you’re a female INFJ considering becoming an INFJ mother, what is your greatest fear?