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  1. #1
    Senior Member BluRoses's Avatar
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    Default Helping an INFP Teenager

    So, I am an ENFJ and my 16-year-old is an INFP. She is also a Type 4 on the Enneagram. What I am looking for is some advice (primarily from INFP's) on how to best relate and get along with her. Feel free to reply with what your parents did right or wrong, or what you wish they had done with you.

    Some background: I adore my daughter and she is very much the stereotypical INFJ. Most of the time she lives in her own world and on the internet. She is extremely sensitive and is actually going to counseling for depression/anxiety. She definitely uses Fi. We dont get along all that well and I think it is largely because I want to talk out issues and she retreats and needs alone time. I have finally realized over the last few years that there are times I need to just back off and give her space, but I would like to do better with her. She is a major sweetheart and I appreciate that about her, but we still butt heads weekly. She actually does better with her ENFP dad, but I think that is partly because I usually enforce the rules in the house and she doesn't like that.

    Thanks in advance!

  2. #2
    reborn PeaceBaby's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BluRoses View Post
    I think it is largely because I want to talk out issues and she retreats and needs alone time.
    Hi new person! Nice to meet you here.

    I've narrowed this to have a place to start - I want to know what kind of issues you're trying to talk out with her. Can you provide an example or two and a quick run-though of how this typically plays out?
    "Remember always that you not only have the right to be an individual, you have an obligation to be one."
    Eleanor Roosevelt


    "When people see some things as beautiful,
    other things become ugly.
    When people see some things as good,
    other things become bad."
    Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching

  3. #3
    Senior Member BluRoses's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PeaceBaby View Post
    Hi new person! Nice to meet you here.

    I've narrowed this to have a place to start - I want to know what kind of issues you're trying to talk out with her. Can you provide an example or two and a quick run-though of how this typically plays out?
    Sure and thanks for the welcome!

    Almost any parental interaction I have with her goes about like this: "Bri (her name is Brianna),please take out the trash when you get a min?"

    ::she is on her laptop and looks up:: "Whaat? Oh, OK."

    3 hrs later:

    I say, "Bri, I need you to take out the garbage right away and it's a 1/2 hr past time for bed, you have school tomorrow. "

    ::Brianna slams laptop closed and gets up from her seat. Gives me a dirty look::
    She says, "OK! I know! You don't have to tell me all of the time!"

    This is the part where when I am smart I stand back and say nothing, but sometimes I will let annoyance take over and say something dumb to her like, "I asked you earlier and you didn't do it. Now I really need you to do it!"

    So, yes I need to watch being defensive and just be quiet when she acts the way above, but how could I stop the minor blow up from her from even happening? Also, this is pretty minor, what is more upsetting is when she is upset and bursts into tears over seemingly nothing. I can give you an example of that situation as well if you want.

    Edit: I just realized I didn't answer your question/reference to me trying to talk things out with her. I will try to be brief. Basically, she is incredibly sensitive. She will be upset about something that happened with her friends online and get really moody. She will be short with the family in interactions and even be critical of others due to being upset about the other issue. I will ask her if she wants to talk about it and tell her that I'm sorry she's upset, but she then automatically goes on the defensive with me and this often leads to her crying and stomping up to her room.

  4. #4
    Away with the fairies Southern Kross's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BluRoses View Post
    Sure and thanks for the welcome!

    Almost any parental interaction I have with her goes about like this: "Bri (her name is Brianna),please take out the trash when you get a min?"

    ::she is on her laptop and looks up:: "Whaat? Oh, OK."

    3 hrs later:

    I say, "Bri, I need you to take out the garbage right away and it's a 1/2 hr past time for bed, you have school tomorrow. "

    ::Brianna slams laptop closed and gets up from her seat. Gives me a dirty look::
    She says, "OK! I know! You don't have to tell me all of the time!"

    This is the part where when I am smart I stand back and say nothing, but sometimes I will let annoyance take over and say something dumb to her like, "I asked you earlier and you didn't do it. Now I really need you to do it!"

    So, yes I need to watch being defensive and just be quiet when she acts the way above, but how could I stop the minor blow up from her from even happening? Also, this is pretty minor, what is more upsetting is when she is upset and bursts into tears over seemingly nothing. I can give you an example of that situation as well if you want.

    Edit: I just realized I didn't answer your question/reference to me trying to talk things out with her. I will try to be brief. Basically, she is incredibly sensitive. She will be upset about something that happened with her friends online and get really moody. She will be short with the family in interactions and even be critical of others due to being upset about the other issue. I will ask her if she wants to talk about it and tell her that I'm sorry she's upset, but she then automatically goes on the defensive with me and this often leads to her crying and stomping up to her room.
    Well this sounds familiar. I was a lot like this as a teenager (minus the crying).

    In terms of chores and time management, it's a good idea to set finite time limits. To me, "when you get a min" basically means, "whenever I feel like it" even though you probably mean, "I'd prefer it done now but if you do it relatively soon it would be fine". She doesn't appreciate the imperative because it isn't overt enough for her. You need to be more direct for her to understand what you need/expect. INFPs also don't handle anything that resembles micromanagement well (not that your demands are at all unreasonable!). We like to feel like we are in control and can chose to do things how we like, but function better when there are some firm boundaries to work within. For example, you could ask her to take the trash out, but that it has to done before a certain time (allowing her a hour or so within which to choose the best time to do it) and then leave her to it. If she doesn't do it in the allotted time, then make it clear that there's no TV/Computer/Phone/Mobile until it's done. If you need to enact the punishment do so with no emotion involved. If she sees it as a straight-forward, matter of fact consequence (ie. don't take out trash by 8pm = no computer) then she will be self-motivating. My Mum did the same with cleaning my room. I had all weekend to do it and if it wasn't done by Monday there was no TV until it was done. She never nagged or told me to do it and the whole thing was put on me to make sure it was. This suited me a lot better. It's also better if the chores are regular and not imposed arbitrarily. If there's a pattern to it, it will be more meaningful to her.

    Bursting into tears over seemingly nothing is usually a case of the straw that broke the camel's back. Negative things can build up in her mind and she will pretend things are fine and try to hold it together. That is until a small thing (that has more significance to her than you) will finally push her over the edge. I'm not sure there's a sure fire way to solve this. Perhaps after she cools down go and talk to her about it so you can prevent it from happening again. Be patient and sensitive and try to ask questions about what is on her mind and what was it that bothered so much - don't guess or make too many assumptions. The most important thing in general is that you try to speak using the word "I" rather than "you" (eg. "I would like you to.." as opposed to "you need to..."). FJs can inadvertently come across as very prescriptive when it comes to feeling and few things rile a NFP than being told how to feel.

    Also just be aware that INFPs are not usually the happiest of teenagers. I felt miserable and alone - like no one understood me. If she's short with you, it's not necessarily anything you've done wrong. It's probably more to do with the general frustration with life. I was pretty grumpy and unpleasant with my family too. De-escalation is the best way to deal with it.

    Be aware that she's not going to want to voice her feelings as much and she may manage just fine without doing so. If she wants to talk she will only do so if and when she chooses it - you may need to step back and wait. Maybe the next time she blows up at you, (after she's cooled off a bit) you could calmly let her know that you understand that she's had some difficult things going lately (feeling understood is very important for INFPs), but explain that it's not OK for her to take out her moods on everyone else. In future, if she's finding it hard to control herself then perhaps she could to go to her room for some quiet time and to cool off for a bit. Give her some space when this happens.
    INFP 4w5 so/sp

    I've dreamt in my life dreams that have stayed with me ever after, and changed my ideas;
    they've gone through and through me, like wine through water, and altered the colour of my mind.

    - Emily Bronte
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  5. #5
    Senior Member BluRoses's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Southern Kross View Post
    Well this sounds familiar. I was a lot like this as a teenager (minus the crying).

    In terms of chores and time management, it's a good idea to set finite time limits. To me, "when you get a min" basically means, "whenever I feel like it" even though you probably mean, "I'd prefer it done now but if you do it relatively soon it would be fine". She doesn't appreciate the imperative because it isn't overt enough for her. You need to be more direct for her to understand what you need/expect. INFPs also don't handle anything that resembles micromanagement well (not that your demands are at all unreasonable!). We like to feel like we are in control and can chose to do things how we like, but function better when there are some firm boundaries to work within. For example, you could ask her to take the trash out, but that it has to done before a certain time (allowing her a hour or so within which to choose the best time to do it) and then leave her to it. If she doesn't do it in the allotted time, then make it clear that there's no TV/Computer/Phone/Mobile until it's done. If you need to enact the punishment do so with no emotion involved. If she sees it as a straight-forward, matter of fact consequence (ie. don't take out trash by 8pm = no computer) then she will be self-motivating. My Mum did the same with cleaning my room. I had all weekend to do it and if it wasn't done by Monday there was no TV until it was done. She never nagged or told me to do it and the whole thing was put on me to make sure it was. This suited me a lot better. It's also better if the chores are regular and not imposed arbitrarily. If there's a pattern to it, it will be more meaningful to her.

    Bursting into tears over seemingly nothing is usually a case of the straw that broke the camel's back. Negative things can build up in her mind and she will pretend things are fine and try to hold it together. That is until a small thing (that has more significance to her than you) will finally push her over the edge. I'm not sure there's a sure fire way to solve this. Perhaps after she cools down go and talk to her about it so you can prevent it from happening again. Be patient and sensitive and try to ask questions about what is on her mind and what was it that bothered so much - don't guess or make too many assumptions. The most important thing in general is that you try to speak using the word "I" rather than "you" (eg. "I would like you to.." as opposed to "you need to..."). FJs can inadvertently come across as very prescriptive when it comes to feeling and few things rile a NFP than being told how to feel.

    Also just be aware that INFPs are not usually the happiest of teenagers. I felt miserable and alone - like no one understood me. If she's short with you, it's not necessarily anything you've done wrong. It's probably more to do with the general frustration with life. I was pretty grumpy and unpleasant with my family too. De-escalation is the best way to deal with it.

    Be aware that she's not going to want to voice her feelings as much and she may manage just fine without doing so. If she wants to talk she will only do so if and when she chooses it - you may need to step back and wait. Maybe the next time she blows up at you, (after she's cooled off a bit) you could calmly let her know that you understand that she's had some difficult things going lately (feeling understood is very important for INFPs), but explain that it's not OK for her to take out her moods on everyone else. In future, if she's finding it hard to control herself then perhaps she could to go to her room for some quiet time and to cool off for a bit. Give her some space when this happens.
    This is really helpful, Thanks! I will try to keep what you said in mind and will try these strategies. I think that her and I have issues often because the showing "no emotion" when I am enacting punishments is really difficult for me. She is of course ridiculously good at picking up on my emotions as well (even if I don't SAY anything, or have an annoyed tone, she knows. Must be Fi!). I am getting better at this and I think she is getting better too. I know she sounds like a total brat from my post before, but she is really a good kid. I just worry about her because she does seem unhappy a lot.

    When did you grow out of this/it got better for you? I'm hoping in college she will blossom.

  6. #6
    Away with the fairies Southern Kross's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BluRoses View Post
    This is really helpful, Thanks! I will try to keep what you said in mind and will try these strategies. I think that her and I have issues often because the showing "no emotion" when I am enacting punishments is really difficult for me. She is of course ridiculously good at picking up on my emotions as well (even if I don't SAY anything, or have an annoyed tone, she knows. Must be Fi!). I am getting better at this and I think she is getting better too. I know she sounds like a total brat from my post before, but she is really a good kid. I just worry about her because she does seem unhappy a lot.

    When did you grow out of this/it got better for you? I'm hoping in college she will blossom.
    Oh, I bet she is a good kid. We're all moody and difficult as teenagers. Yeah, I grew out of it. For me it was university because I got to escape the situations and relationship patterns I felt trapped in. She'll learn to better manage her emotional outbursts and to see things from your perspective with time.

    I think the no emotion part is important when there's conflict with underdeveloped INFP - it often negates the anger and tension. Too much emotional turbulence is really stressful for a INFP (especially for an already emotionally turbulent teenager!). It is for any type, but INFPs, as you say, hone in on it. Removing that part of the equation and adding some clarity when demonstrating authority, also helps to INFPs to assess the framework more clearly. If authority figures seem unreasonable and appear to lack objectivity (and being too emotional can give that impression) we don't respect that and can resist for the sake of resisting. I guess what I'm saying is that she may just need a calm, clear-headed, steadying presence (rather than a very forward, hands-on mother) and being a ENFJ I'm sure you'd be great at it. Sometimes it's just that you need to do less rather than more.
    INFP 4w5 so/sp

    I've dreamt in my life dreams that have stayed with me ever after, and changed my ideas;
    they've gone through and through me, like wine through water, and altered the colour of my mind.

    - Emily Bronte
    Likes BluRoses liked this post

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