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  1. #1
    Senior Member Lily flower's Avatar
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    Default Advice on INFP daughter?

    I am starting to realize that one of my children is an INFP. She is very artistic, quiet, loves to read books. Her strongest talents so far are drama and singing. Her talent for acting is phenomenal. People who see her act are always blown away, because she is so quiet and unassuming in person, but when she gets up on stage she appears to be so confident and bold. So far she has a very good self-esteem, but she is approaching her teen years and is starting to realize that she is quite different from other people.

    My question is for other INFP's. How do you think I can best help her to face the world? From what I have read, the world is very difficult for INFP's. Is there some way to help insulate her from being hurt?

    Is there something you wish your parents had told you or done for you before you were a teenager/adult?

  2. #2
    Senior Member Adasta's Avatar
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    There is always a risk as an INFP that express oneself sincerely will seem either whiney or cliched to others. However, nothing/no-one has explained the why of life to me adequately. This is a problem that plagues INFPs. I am personally convinced that we should all be nice to one another since this would surely lift the life-experience of all us. However, this world-view is consistently spurned by the world at large to such an extent that it affects me (and other INFPs), changes my behaviour and causes me to act like "the rabble" rather than how I feel I should act.

    As a child I always found other children to be needlessly cruel. It sounds flippant, but this Morrissey quote always seems to encapsulate my thoughts on INFP childhood:

    Quote Originally Posted by Morrissey"
    I once bought a Manchester United hat, which I think was 12 shillings, and somebody ran up behind me and pulled it off and just ran ahead. I thought, 'It's a very cruel world, I'm not prepared for this'. And I decided to get my revenge on society.
    It probably didn't help that I found it easy to pick up abstract notions and was reading advanced literature while still at primary school. This sounds like massive arrogance on my part; it is not to be so. I'm just being honest. If your daughter likes books, ensure that she reads everything as soon as possible. Continually encourage her to read harder things when you think she has "outgrown" a certain level. The unfortunate corrolary of this is that she will drift away from those of her own peer group. However, if she's anything like me, this won't be seen as a bad thing in the long run.

    As a teenager, I could never understand everyone's desire to do drugs and shag each other even thought they didn't like each other. I used to get drunk, but even that wore thin. I spent a lot of evenings secluded in my room reading, writing, or talking with "like-minded" friends (I have a suspicion one of my good friends is an INTJ; 5w4).

    The best thing my parents ever did, and particularly my mum, was to be a confidante. I used to spill my guts to my family about my thoughts and it really helped when someone listened. The world is hard for the INFP because it seems so disorderly; it's as if someone has set everything up completely the wrong way round. Everyone gets hurt and no-one seems bothered enough to think about how we could make it better for everyone.

    Also, if your daughter is a good actress, that could be a great route for expression! Good luck
    That girls are raped, that two boys knife a third,
    Were axioms to him, who'd never heard
    Of any world where promises were kept,
    Or one could weep because another wept.

  3. #3
    Senior Member Rebe's Avatar
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    I often wonder how much better I would be doing, would have done if my parents encouraged creativity, ambition, confidence, determination, fearlessness, taking risks, picking myself up, enjoying life, helping others ... They did the opposite, although I am sure they meant well and did the best that they could. Their parenting philosophy is quite Asian as I am coming to realize while I would have been able to relate to a much more Western philosophy and benefited from that. I developed in some ways much earlier (mentally) and in other ways much later (emotionally).

    I read this story in the NYTimes magazine about this incredible woman my age who took time off before college, traveled to Asia, and started an orphanage for Nepalese children wandering the streets and she's just 23 now. http://blinknow.org/ Her parents raised her up with confidence, told her she could do anything. My parents never taught me such a thing, not even close.

    Like any children, teaching them about confidence, self-worth, self-efficiency, individualism, compassion are so important. If she's INFP, she's already naturally very compassionate and sensitive to people and her surroundings.

    Really encourage her sense of self, her accomplishment and talent as an actress, or whatever else But at the same time, don't let her wander in the clouds all the time. She also needs doses of harsh reality so that as she gets older, she won't suddenly be traumatized and disappointed. She needs to learn that constructive criticism is important for growth and it hurts a lot of the time.

    Teach her and somehow show her that while their is immense good in the world, there is also immense cruelty and she needs to find ways to cope/deal with that as efficiently as she can. At the same time, if she falls, let her fall and let her pick herself up. Don't over-coddle. She may seem delicate but she's very strong in spirit.

    The more I fell, the stronger I have become over time. I know my self and I know deeply what I want from life and no one can persuade me otherwise. A good, nurturing parenting would have done me a lot of good, but there is over-coddling.

    I had a friend who's XNFP who her mother coddled and protected at every turn and she's very detached from reality. Give her a lot of space to build herself, almost brick by brick. Careful not to discourage her from dreams, but also be careful not to let her be unrealistic. A good dose of reality is good. Life is hard for a lot of people, of any types, don't let her wallow for too long. Don't patronize. Let her stand up to you sometimes when she truly believes in something but you don't agree, let her argue and form her logic/convictions. It will be good for her determination.

    I hope that helps. I hope one of my kids end up as XNFP and I will try hard not to screw it up. When I worked at a preschool, the very dreamy and shy kids were always my favorites.

    I know a lot of what I said sounds like contradictions but there's really a fine balance.

    Also...INFPs have many layers. Don't under-estimate, don't coddle!

  4. #4
    Senior Member cafe's Avatar
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    Oh man. I've got one, too. She's almost sixteen. I am not sure the best way to make things easier. I'm not sure you really can. The best thing I know to do is to provide a safe haven at home. My daughter likes acting/drama too, but she is more of a visual artist so we try to make sure she has the supplies she needs and a place to draw and keep her drawings. She does not like her things messed with and has her own system for things so her room is sacrosanct and off limit to siblings unless she is present. I also try to protect her quiet time and make sure she has adequate quiet and time for rest. Even when she likes school (she does atm, yay!) she is always exhausted and irritable when she comes home -- I try to make sure the little brothers give her the space she needs until she's recovered.

    As far as being different goes, our whole family is pretty weird and normal people seem pretty strange to us. IOW, normal isn't a good thing so she is not particularly driven to be normal. Generally, though, she's well-liked by teachers and peers alike -- sometimes more than she really wants to be. Her middle school teachers kept asking her to help with projects not realizing that the other teachers were doing the same so she got pretty overloaded and stressed out. I try to make sure she knows she can say no to people and that she doesn't always have to be nice, etc.

    So far, so good.
    “There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old’s life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs.”
    ~ John Rogers

  5. #5
    Senior Member Eckhart's Avatar
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    I don't have children myself, and I am with 20 still very young so I would never take myself as an authority when giving advice about children. What I can offer is what I think would have been good for me as a child (INFP male), and what I think was not good for me, and drawing conclusions out of it for your daughter.

    You say your daughter is already acting. I think that is great, and the fact that she is already means you also let her do so or even encourage her, which is great too. I think having such talents and doing something out of it is good for her self-confidence and self esteem. I think it could be important for her to talk about what she does there and just sharing things about it with you, and she would sure feel good when you can share your attention with her about it and show interest.

    My parents / mother never really much encouraged me to do something which fits to my talents, but instead doing things which I never liked and which for I had no talents at all. More Sensoric than Intuitive hobbies mostly. On the other hand they gave very early focus on my intellectual side up to some age, which wasn't really bad for me because it was not uninteresting for me either. Well, I got then myself busy with basically becoming a computer freak very early, which on the other hand was not so appreciated by my parents; I got complaints all my years and always got to hear I should "go outside". The thing is I have relative old parents (33/36 years difference to parents), and they grew up in totally different conditions, and I think they never realized that. Also their types (mother: ISFJ, father: ISTx) are quite different from mine, so I think they never really understood me. Everything had to be like they think it had to be, and nothing else was encouraged (especially my mother). Also they were always rather "rational" when it came to money or just anything else, and since I was always as a child rather unselfish and relative unassertive, I abandoned some wishes often. Things like Christmas Trees were rationalised soon, things like Halloween etc. are stupid etc, while I was a rather atmospheric child, so, well.

    Well, obviously that is only the negative things I picked out now. I don't consider my parents bad parents. They are very loving parents, and you really never had to fear that things were going bad, since there was nothing which had to be done and didn't get done. So they gave some kind of stability too. And even though they never really seemed to understand me truely and we are quite different in many ways (besides our Introvertedness, which again didn't help me when it came to learning how to socialise with other people), I never had to fear that they would not love me, which was important of course. But their lack of understanding, encouragement in more "unusual" things which would better fit to me, and their pressure in getting me into a "normal" person instead of telling me that it is ok to be different than other people only made me feel like something is wrong with me, at least in my subconciousness. That made me feel defective later. Since school mates and teachers often gave me the same feel, it became some issue that was always present for me and which didn't do me well, and it is very difficult to get out of it. I am making progress, but sadly it came a bit late so I am somewhat lonely now already, which maybe wouldn't be if I had learned earlier that showing more of my inner world would not be wrong although it was less appreciated in the past, because my inner is actually not bad. I was pretty closed off.

    Actually the learning goes in both directions. My parents are more open to things than earlier, and appreciate my skills more. They do some things now regularly what they earlier thought very badly of.

    So my advice would be that you try to make her clear that nothing is wrong to be a bit different than most people, and just try to stay herself. Some people will sure appreciate her for being the way she is, and that is what she should look for. Sure there might be also people who don't, and who will hurt her one or more times, but that is a normal experience every person has to deal with I believe, and rather than isolating her from such experiences, instead give her the support she needs to deal with it. Sure she will learn much by herself also.

  6. #6
    Sugar Hiccup OrangeAppled's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rebe View Post
    Really encourage her sense of self, her accomplishment and talent as an actress, or whatever else But at the same time, don't let her wander in the clouds all the time. She also needs doses of harsh reality so that as she gets older, she won't suddenly be traumatized and disappointed. She needs to learn that constructive criticism is important for growth and it hurts a lot of the time.
    I agree it's important for parents to help the INFP with seeing the value in practical matters, how to navigate this aspect of life without it feeling like some threat to their ideals, and spelling out the obvious which is not always obvious to the INFP.

    As Adasta mentioned, we may read complex novels at a young age, understand difficult abstract concepts with ease, but sometimes the obvious, practical stuff goes under our radar. As a Fe user, you can help by making the INFP aware of appropriateness, especially socially, as this is often a major weakness that holds INFPs back in life.

    My ISFJ mom & ISFP step-dad were very much the kind of parents who nurtured my creativity and gave me a lot of space to be me. Both being introverts, my parents kept the family rather insulated, because they are not the most social people either. I think it would have done me good to have parents who exposed me to more people & experiences. INFPs develop Ne through new experiences; Ne requires novelty & change to be stirred & inspired, and it's important to a healthy mindset. INFP parents need to strike a balance between providing structure, giving space, but also providing novelty. If the structure & reality checks threaten these other aspects, they may simply be rejected. You need to demonstrate how these things can work together in harmony. Otherwise, the INFP may either get stuck in some Fi-Si loop (a trap for the INFP teen), where they get really withdrawn & negative about the future, or they may seek out novelty in unhealthy ways (ie. rebellion).

    It sounds like OP is doing pretty well in the balance. It's good the INFP child has a creative hobby that involves interacting with others. I didn't really have this, and found it easy to isolate myself with books & music for company. Everyday life was too much routine, too much sameness, not stimulating enough. I found stimulation on my own, but it sort of stunted my people skills.

    Don't discourage "impractical" dreams so much as clarify what it means to accomplish them. I'm not good at making plans & steps to achieve goals. I think that's inferior Te territory. INFPs may just float along until forced to make a move, so it's good as a parent to teach skills to take control of their own life. I heard a lot from my parents on what NOT to do, but little on what TO do.
    Often a star was waiting for you to notice it. A wave rolled toward you out of the distant past, or as you walked under an open window, a violin yielded itself to your hearing. All this was mission. But could you accomplish it? (Rilke)

    INFP | 4w5 sp/sx | RLUEI - Primary Inquisitive | Tritype is tripe

  7. #7
    morose bourgeoisie
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    Hmm. Where to begin...
    When I was a kid, I 'took in' a lot of criticism that I should have brushed off. So I would say, if you perceive that she is feeling isolated by her peers or feels like an outcast, address it, even if she doesn't want to talk about it.
    Make sure your positive feed back is real and meaningful. I got a lot if 'atta boys' from my parents, but it didn't feel genuine because it wasn't directly related to something specific I had done. sometimes praise made me lazy, though.
    I got a lot of flack from peers because I was talented, and this kind of rejection can be hard to take. Again, try to get her to talk about it.
    Drill into her that when she gets a compliment, the person REALLY MEANT IT. People priase because what you did touched them, and it's important to honor that emotion in the other person and accept it at face value, with no hidden meaning.
    There are two schools of thought regarding perfectionism: there are those who believe that whatever they do is OK because excellence is something you strive for, and by striving, you become better, and those who feel that every attempt should be judged against the standard of perfection. She probably thinks the later. Let her know that great performers are made, not born. Just because she can't do it today, doesn't mean that she can't practice her way to excellence. The book "Outliers" explains this well. I would talk about this all the time. If she shows perfectionist tendencies, it would be
    good to get a teacher that she likes to reinforce this. Over and over...

    Sorry that I sound so preachy here. Those are things that would have helped me out, had anyone bothered to notice.

  8. #8
    Senior Member Lily flower's Avatar
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    Thank you all for your replies. Lots of good stuff here - I will take some time to digest it all.

  9. #9
    Level 8 Propaganda Bot SpankyMcFly's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cafe View Post
    The best thing I know to do is to provide a safe haven at home.
    This is good for all parents imo.

    I also feed her imagination by asking her lots of questions and wondering about things with her. Sometimes this leads to experimentation and fun and games with the occasional kitchen disaster. I am also extra touchy/feely with my INFP daughter (I have two), since she seems to need it.
    "The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents... Some day the piecing together of dissociated knowledge will open up such terrifying vistas of reality, and of our frightful position therein, that we shall either go mad from the revelation or flee from the light into the peace and safety of a new Dark Age. " - H.P. Lovecraft

  10. #10
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    Be on her side, always. Don't criticise. Be her ally against the world. Love her for her. If you want her to do something, let her 'discover' the idea herself by approaching whatever it is (playing sports, doing better academically) in 'friendly' ways (e.g. learning a sport together as a family, discussing books and ideas etc together), and let her take her time with it. She may take an agonisingly long time, but once she takes command of it, there'll be no stopping her. Be careful of your words - a throwaway comment to another child about their appearance, personality, etc can be utterly crushing for an INFP child. Applaud her creativity.

    Surprisingly, while she may appear to be dreamy and chaotic, routines, structure and organisation will actually make her feel really good, and almost addictive. Provide those for her in a non-intrusive way, and let it come from 'her'.

    As a female, I'd also say be particularly careful about attitudes to weight/food. INFP girls are probably more likely than others to run the risk of developing eating disorders. Make sure she is not holding herself up to impossible ideals in terms of physical appearance - teach her early on about ideas like focusing on health rather than looks, and about the type of airbrushing etc that goes into most advertising etc.

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