By the time Maggie was three she was printing her own name and reading letters from cereal boxes, books and billboards. Her parents were happy, cheerful people who doted on their little girl, but at that age they were already looking at her in awe. Her dad was a bit introverted and her mother very extraverted, but neither had been early readers or talkers. Her dad had been an excellent soccer player in high school and in his two years of community college. He was a rather talented painter and had a good job as a commercial artist. Her mother was passionate about music and dance, and had had a brief career on stage as a dancer in local musical productions. She ended that to become a wife and mother, but still kept her one foot in, performing in local charity benefits. She was much given to singing cheerily around the house as she did the household chores. This provoked a surprising mother-daughter falling out when Maggie was about five.
Maggie’s kindergarten teacher had started the whole class on a project that involved drawing pictures of themselves, their families, homes and recent happenings, to be made into individual books. By now Maggie read well and could spell a great many words on her own. She was determined to do the best book in the class and had decided to write a little story to go with each picture. She had all her work spread out on the kitchen table and was earnestly printing comments with each of her pictures. As her mother hummed along with her work, Maggie suddenly said, “Mom, please. I can’t think!” Her mother was taken aback by this, not sure whether to reprimand her for rudeness, tell Maggie to relax a little and suggest that the project was not life or death, or just be quiet for the little Prima Donna.
There had been many indications before that Maggie preferred quiet over household bustle and activity, but this was the first time she had been so blunt about it. In truth, her mom’s feelings were a bit wounded; her husband loved to hear her singing around the house, and Maggie’s baby brother smiled and giggled when she sang to him. That was another thing. They had expected Maggie to be entranced with her baby brother and that was not exactly true. She seemed to like him, and was certainly interested in watching him learn to do new things, but his crying would send her running to her room, and even his joyous noises seemed to annoy her after a while. Maggie’s mom and dad had many long talks about this. Her father was a quieter person than her mother and had a little more insight into how Maggie might be feeling, but this just didn’t come across to her mother.
As time went by, the mother-daughter stresses increased. Just as her mom didn’t seem to understand her need for peace and quiet, Maggie was equally poor at realizing that her criticisms of her mother were hurtful. She just assumed that grown-ups were not bothered by things like that, and didn’t hesitate to point out her mother’s shortcomings when they cropped up. Mom was a bit on the dramatic side, and tended to exaggerate her stories just to make them more fun. Six-year-old Maggie would roll her eyes and say, “Oh, Mom, come on.”
Orderliness was yet another source of contention. Neither parent had any feeling or concern about it. Their home was clean and cared-for, but always in disarray. Time was a very fluid thing, which drove Maggie wild. You never knew when dinner would really turn up; little brother never went to bed at any predictable time, Dad never came home at the same time twice and Mom didn’t seem to mind at all. Family plans were always being made and unmade with the mood of the moment. When her mother had to be somewhere at a particular time it was always a crisis. Never ready in advance, she would fly around the house getting herself ready and driving Maggie crazy. Maggie took to keeping track of time for her mother and giving her regular reminders, just as she forever went around the house picking things up and complaining about her little brother’s messiness. At first this seemed rather sweet, but over time it became another sore point between mother and daughter. Her mother was basically an easygoing person, but she found herself feeling increasingly critical of Maggie’s behavior. She began to feel that her child was missing all the fun in life, turning into something of an old maid at nine. In addition, if she were honest with herself, she felt bitter about the constant put-downs that seemed to be mostly directed at her. She tried to stay pleasant and affectionate and worked to coax Maggie into more playful ways, but it only seemed to make things worse. Maggie’s father was aware that tensions were rising between the two, but he was a quiet man himself, and inclined to let emotional problems take care of themselves.
Neither of the two parents was much interested in scientific matters, nor in politics or world affairs: instead, they were absorbed much more in the world of art and music. When her mother did venture some comment on world events, it often seemed silly to Maggie. Unfortunately she didn’t hesitate to say so. By the time she was nine the precocious Maggie had decided that neither of them could hold a candle to the fourth-fifth-grade teacher she currently worshiped. (By this point Maggie had already skipped about a grade and a half.) Making things worse, her boisterous little brother was growing into a junior jock, loving soccer and baseball, and filling the house with his friends whenever he could. Maggie came to feel like an outsider in her own home, and often tried to stay after class just to talk a little with her teacher, who seemed like her in so many ways.
One day, as she was lingering in the classroom her teacher saw tears in her eyes. Knowing Maggie well she didn’t immediately ask her what the trouble was, but rather sought her aid in tidying up the room. Finally the tears were just too obvious to ignore, and she asked if there was something wrong. Misfit Maggie burst out with, “I’m adopted, I know I’m adopted!” She had been thinking about this for months and finally reasoned that it was the only explanation for how different she was. Although all her INTJ confidence told her that she was a very solid person, years of feeling more and more cast out by her own family had taken its toll.
Maggie’s choice of this teacher as a confidante was fortunate. Although she would not have been able to put that into any precise words, she felt comfortable with her because they were alike in being logical thinkers and quiet, organized individuals. Maggie’s struggles made a world of sense to her teacher because she had been through many of the same problems, but had grown through them to become very understanding of herself and others. This kind teacher took it upon herself to meet with the family and help them to see how rejected Maggie felt. This led to several good things. Her parents were stunned to see how far problems had drifted and how desperate Maggie felt. She had not confided in them at all, maintaining her aloof and busy front at all costs. They were both warm, loving people who took it upon themselves to find ways to understand what had happened and mend things as far as possible. Her teacher also dreamed up outings to science museums and other places of interest for herself and Maggie. This offered opportunities to talk with Maggie about what she might have contributed to the problem. It was slow going, but she made progress in getting Maggie to see that she was not respecting her parents’ ways, in much the same fashion that she felt they did not respect her ways. They talked a lot about gentler ways to express differences, the need to consider others’ feelings before speaking, and related matters that had been a large part of the teacher’s learning process as she grew up. Over time, things improved a great deal.
Maggie’s situation was unusual in that both of her parents and her brother were all so very different from her in temperament. It is an unlikely occurrence, but not impossible. As described, her father would be an ISFP and her mother an ESFP. Nothing in their own temperaments, and perhaps nothing in their family backgrounds, had prepared them for this extremely bright, logical and very reserved daughter. With a great deal of love and effort such a gap can be bridged, but it won’t happen without a conscious effort, and without some understanding that differences are real and must be recognized and accepted. INTJs are a rare breed, and the number of female INTJs is less than one in several hundred. We would expect to see a lot of improvement in this family with more understanding and tolerance on both sides. At the same time, as Maggie grows up and goes out on her own, she will probably sort through the world to find her own niche with friends and loved ones whose temperament and interests are more like her own.
Website Problems??Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org