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I wish I would have known about INFJs and personality type stuff when I was younger. I could have saved my folks a ton of trouble. I was complicated child and an even more complicated teen… and now I’m just a complicated adult. Here’s some of my own personal insight that I want to share with the parent of an INFJ child.
This entire post was inspired by my lovely friend, Rita with Not Status Quo. She has been the source of lots of inspiration for me… including my new Facebook group for INFJ Parents & Kids. Check it out!
As always, I like to include a disclaimer that my opinions and my experiences are not facts. Everyone has a different path, but this is mine.
The Early Years
Let’s be honest, parents… you knew we were ‘different’ from a very young age.
I’ve found that most INFJs are one of two children: very quiet, reserved children with lots of creative energy… or they’re the type to be very dramatic and easily over-stimulated.
Not sure what causes them to be one or the other, but I was definitely the quiet kid.
My mom said I was an old soul at a young age.
Anytime they took me anywhere, I would sit quietly and color. I’d hop in the adult conversation every-so-often to share my two cents, but I mostly kept to my own.
I wasn’t one to scream or have temper tantrums.
I was reserved and quiet around strangers or people I got ‘bad vibes’ from, but my close friends and family knew that I was a really friendly, outgoing child.
Everyone in my family noticed that there was something different from me and the other kids my age…. but they usually chalked it up to me being an only child or being ‘shy’.
But both my parents knew that I was just different. And they were okay with it.
The ‘Whys’ Of Life
All small children go through a “why” phase that is bound to make any parent lose their mind.
Being the parent of an INFJ child, you probably lost a few years off of your life during this phase.
Because of our inquisitive nature and need to figure everything out, we ask a lot of “whys”.
My parents were way more patient than I could ever be.
They were always very calm and patient with me as I learned new things and they always explained “why”.
If I went to reach for a hot stove or something dangerous, they would tell me why I shouldn’t touch it… and that was that.
Life as an INFJ child is deep and complex.
Even toys weren’t just toys.
If I played with Lincoln Logs, I didn’t just want to build a house. I wanted to know why the pieces fit together a certain way.
Our brains love the ‘whys’.
When you explain why something is the way it is, INFJ children (and adults) are 1000 times more receptive to it rather than just saying “because I said so”.
If the parent of an INFJ child doesn’t explain the whys, they’ll probably end up noticing a bit of defiance.
They’ll reach for the stove again and again trying to figure out why it’s a ‘no-no’.
Whether you tell them “because it’s hot and it will hurt you” or they grab the stove themselves, they will figure out the ‘why’.
Out Of Control Emotions
I was an incredibly emotional, sensitive child. (Still am, if I’m being honest.)
When I was about 3 or so, we were driving through Downtown Atlanta. I asked my parents and Godmother why there were people under a bridge. My Godmother said “They don’t have homes, so that’s where they live.”
I was so upset by the concept of ‘homelessness’ at 3 years old that I began to have nightmares.
How they stayed warm, how they ate, how they lived…
I would wake up screaming “PEOPLE UNDER THE BRIDGE!” in a wild fit… freaking out that we had to help them somehow.
And don’t even get me started on pets or kids.
We went to Jamaica once and I had an emotional breakdown because I couldn’t let all of the kittens and homeless kids stay in our condo….
My poor parents had to explain why I couldn’t and deal with me being sad for the rest of the trip.
My emotions were all over the board as a child.
Sad movies, sad songs…. it all influenced my mood and emotions.
The Lion King? I had to call my mom to skip ‘the bad parts’… and I’m pretty sure I went on a TV strike when the SPCA commercial with Sarah’s sad song came out…
Being the parent of an INFJ child means strapping yourself in to the rollercoaster of emotions.
Just don’t say things like “It’s not that sad” or “Pull yourself together”.
INFJ kids have a lot of emotions that they’re going to feel whether you nurture it or not.
The best thing you can do is try to talk to them about it and let them explain why they feel that way.
They’re probably just as confused by their own emotions as you are.
Letting them vent a bit will help them work through their own emotions.
Day Dreaming And Creativity
Technically, this applies to any INFJ- not just kids or teens… but it’s incredibly important in the early stages of life.
The parent of an INFJ child may find themselves frustrated with their child always living in the clouds.
Day dreaming, coming up with nonsensical games, expressing their creativity in less-than-desirable ways (like painting the cat purple..)
I can’t explain why the INFJ personality is so creative, but we just are.
It’s a passion, an outlet, a way of life.
So, when a young INFJ is being creative or day dreaming, they’re just in their natural state.
For some odd reason, the whole world thinks that day dreaming is bad or counterproductive, so parents teach their kids to ‘get their head out of the clouds’.
But, it’s really beautiful if you stop to think about it.
A child is happier being in their own head than they are playing on an iPad. They’re more content drawing than they are being glued to a TV.
INFJs spend most of our time in our own heads, so why not teach your child to be comfortable and safe there?
No, I’m not saying you should let your kid believe in flying unicorns and purple cats their entire life…. I’m saying to nurture their creativity.
Later on in life, that creativity will help them with problem solving, critical thinking skills and teach them to love their own brains.
So, buy them the paints, play along with the fantasy stories and let them play in the cardboard box that their real toys came in.
The Teen Years
Being the parent of an INFJ child is not for the faint of heart.
If you thought the “why” phase was bad, the teen years will have you reaching for tequila and Xanax.
But not for the reasons you might assume.
Not only are their hormones raging and peer pressure on the rise, they are trying to figure themselves out.
They’re trying to figure out why they’re so different from everyone else, why the world seems a bit more scary and confusing than it did in childhood and why they’re feeling everything so so so deeply.
I tried explaining my teenage years to a friend as an ‘early mid-life crisis’.
I was dealing with internal issues that other people wouldn’t face until they were in their thirties!
INFJ teens are a handful, but there’s a lot going on in those hormonal brains…. and it’s worth the time to help them figure it out.
Fitting In Everywhere & Nowhere
I was an only child and an introvert, so I spent a lot of time alone.
However, I was also a social chameleon of sorts.
I had about 30 ‘circles’ of friends. The ‘cool kids’, the jocks and cheerleaders, the book nerds, the gamer nerds, the musicians….
I fit in everywhere and nowhere at the same time. (No wonder parents of an INFJ child struggle so hard to understand them…)
I sorta ‘Circle Hopped’ for most of my teenage years, but eventually settled in with the ‘creatives’.
The musicians, artists, poets and writers. Ya know, the real emotional kids….
I felt most ‘at home’ with the creative types because I, too, am a creative type. So, I felt like they really ‘got’ me… (well… as much as someone can really ‘get’ an INFJ.)
But I still felt like the odd-man out. All of my creative friends were balls-to-the-wall extroverts.
So even in my most comfortable group, I still felt like I had to sort of fudge my personality. I pushed myself to be more outgoing, more bubbly and yes, I even forced myself to engage in small talk.
I kind of lost myself during my teenage years trying to conform and fit….
I wish someone had just told me “it’s perfectly okay to just be yourself“.
So if you’re the parent of an INFJ child, make sure to remind them of that.
Being someone else isn’t half as much fun as finally allowing your true colors to show.
Also, make sure that you’re not being judgmental about their circle of friends.
Because I brought home the creative people, my parents thought I was hanging out with the ‘freaks’. Which I was… and we embraced the title. But, it still hurts the heart of an INFJ to think their families are judging their circle of friends… because that means they’re also judging their INFJ kid…
Problems With Authority
I never really got into trouble in school because I was always afraid of my dad saying “I am so disappointed in you”.
I never skipped school or did anything really rebellious because I knew what my parents expected from me and I didn’t want to let them down.
However, I did have a real issue with authority growing up.
Not with all authority, but just with the people like Miss Trunchbull from Matilda.
“I’m right and you’re wrong, I’m big and you’re small, and there’s nothing you can do about it”– Miss Trunchbull from Matilda
Those types of people make my eye twitch.
We hold values and morals very close to our hearts and I think something about power-hungry people rubs us the wrong way.
And being the non-confrontational type, we’re not going to duke it out with the authority…. but it can deflate us.
I can think of 5 teachers that made me absolutely shut down.
I stopped paying attention in class, stopped asking questions and basically did what I could to just ‘get by’.
They were condescending, short and unaproachable.
Once an INFJ feels like they can no longer approach someone, an odd barrier gets built that creates some serious distance.
If you notice that your INFJ child is having an issue in school or extra curricular activities, don’t jump on them and tell them to apply themselves.
Ask if there’s a reason that they’re struggling and if they are having problems with one of their teachers or coaches.
Like I said, I spent a lot of time alone as a kid… and as a teen… and still as an adult.
It was always an issue.
My parents sent me to a psychiatrist to figure out why I was always on my own, reading and listening to music.
I think they thought I was broken somehow.
The shrink confirmed that “no one should ever be that comfortable being by themselves that much“.
So everyone expected me to hear her ‘expert’ opinion and run off to a party.
Introversion is not a choice. It is not shyness or anti-social behavior.
Alone time is required for an INFJ to think, work through their emotions, heal, recharge, be creative…. we need our alone time to stay sane.
So don’t push your INFJ child to ‘go outside their comfort zone’ or try to be an extrovert.
You wouldn’t tell an extroverted child to stop having so many friends and be less outgoing… right?
Let your INFJ child/teen know that you accept their introversion and you support it.
This one thing will build so much trust and companionship between you and your INFJ child. I promise.
Parenting An Adult INFJ Child
Parenting doesn’t end when your child turns 18. You child is your child for life.
And I would love to say to you “being the parent of an INFJ child is so much easier once they’re grown“…. but I’d be lying to you.
We were complex at day 1 and that isn’t ever going to change.
But we’re pretty awesome adults once you work through all the kinks!
Being ‘Their Person’
A lot of the INFJs in my life describe a similar experience of being everyone’s person.
So, that means being someone’s shoulder to cry on, ear to listen, hand to hold.
We are everyones’ person. So we carry a lot of weight that isn’t our own to carry.
And we need a person too.
My mom is my person. Hands down.
Now, I know that not all INFJ children are going to consider their parents as ‘their people’, but I know that a lot do.
It’s hard to be an INFJ’s person, because chances are that you’re gonna have to dig stuff out of us.
I hardly ever just blurt out all of my emotions in a linear fashion.
My mom usually observes my body language and realizes that ‘something’s up’… then she starts digging.
A lot of people say that INFJs aren’t open books.
We are open books. You just have to learn a whole new language to be able to read said book… and there might be more than one volume…
If you’re an INFJ’s person, don’t be afraid to ask how to read them.
We’re so used to being misunderstood that we appreciate that you’re even trying to figure us out.
Inability To Adult
I 100% know that my dad would laugh so hard if he read that heading.
Because I can honestly say I had a bit of ‘Peter Pan Syndrome’.
I wanted to grow up so bad because I thought I would eventually learn all of ‘whys’ of life.
The world felt super magical and optimistic when I was a child. There was so much to learn, so much to do and so many incredible opportunities to experience.
But the older I got, I realized that I was learning more questions and less answers... and I started to feel like life was actually just a massive hamster wheel you couldn’t get off of….
Work, pay bills, drive, grocery shop, cook, clean, sleep, work….
I kept wanting to go back to the days when things were simple… when I could get the answers to the ‘whys’ of life.
Now don’t get me wrong, I am a fully-functioning adult now. Mortgage, dogs, bills, job, taxes… the whole nine yards.
I’m just saying that if you are the parent of an INFJ child, be patient with them as the learn that ‘real life’ is hard.
We had a totally different picture painted in our minds of what ‘real life’ was going to be like.
While we are the rose colored glasses, day-dreaming type… we’ll figure it out.
Just know that it’s like finding out that the Easter Bunny, Santa and the Tooth Fairy aren’t real all in one day.
The Internal Tug For More
On more than one occasion, I shocked my family with my decision to search for more.
College wasn’t my thing, so I searched for more. A typical ‘desk job’ wasn’t for me, so I searched for more.
At 30 years old, I’m a freaking blogger… and I have never been happier in my life.
Don’t be shocked if your INFJ child comes up with the wild idea that there’s something ‘more’ out there for them!
They’re probably right!
INFJs look for very fulfilling, rewarding, creative careers and life paths.
It takes a lot of errors to realize that something just isn’t right and that maybe their true calling is somewhere else.
Don’t be the one to talk them down from their greatness.
I had many people in my life that were nay-sayers that said I could never excel in the creative world.
And I choose to not celebrate my successes with those people and I turn to the people who helped lift me up.
Being negative about them following their dreams is a quick way to build a wall between you two.
If your INFJ wants to find their ‘more’, support them! Even if it’s wonky and a bit out of the ordinary!
Trust me, they’ve thought about all the possible negatives. They just need someone to lend a supportive hand.
The Unhealthy INFJ
As the parent of an INFJ child, you will come to learn that we have two sides.
The light side and the dark side.
The light side is compassionate with high morals and a gentle nature.
The dark side is stubborn, moody, harsh and explosive.
You can read more about the dark side of the INFJ if you feel like your INFJ may be leaning that way.
I’ve been the unhealthy INFJ before and I thought it was just depression.
But there’s more to it than that.
Going through certain things in life can cause an INFJ to turn to their dark side… prolonged exposure to immoral situations, creative blocks, toxic environments, and sometimes even facing INFJ burn out.
If they’re acting unnecessarily brash, cold or just ‘not themselves’, there’s a chance that they are going dark.
And in true INFJ behavior, INFJs never half-ass anything.
So, if they begin to spiral, they will follow that spiral allllll the way to rock bottom.
You’ll begin to notice that they lack self-love, self-compassion and they may even begin to reject any outside sources of encouragement or love.
Just know that as the parent of an INFJ child, you have to be aware of the unhealthy, dark side of an INFJ and know how to identify it…. and then help them get through it and help them find their self-worth again.
To The Parent Of An INFJ Child
I am sure that I left some stuff out.
I could have gone on for days about this topic. But I doubt anyone would read that many words.
If you didn’t find what you’re looking for, make sure you join my Facebook group for INFJ parents and kids.
And if you’re not a Facebook person, comment below with your thoughts or questions.
..if you’re not a Facebook person and you’re not comfortable leaving a comment, you can e-mail me, Telegram me, send me a message on any of my socials etc.
Anyways, I love you for loving an INFJ and I love you even more for trying to understand them.
P.S- Check out my Instagram story highlights for some relatable INFJ content. There’s one about INFJ stuff and then another one with INFJ humor.