s/o.. kids who might not fit in anywhere (or: am i raising a weirdo?) - Mothering Forums

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Old 06-27-2011, 12:51 PM - Thread Starter
 
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reading through the crunchy/noncrunchy/i don't fit in threads.. and this has already been on my mind.. how do you feel about raising the kids who might not "fit in?"  do you do anything to prepare them for that?  or do you have a little tribe of similar friends' kids to have them hang out with?


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Old 06-27-2011, 02:54 PM
 
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dd and i dont fit into any crowd. 

 

initially i didnt do anything to prepare dd. i watched her try to figure it out. she went thru years of trying to fit in but by the time she was in second grade she was sick of trying and started standing up for herself, even if that meant she was by herself.

 

since then i have been talking about standing up for what YOU feel is important for you AND that life can be lonely. however its kinda easier in our family because she can already see how lonely it is. i mean yeah at some level we get along with everyone, but at another level we dont. 

 

btw we ARE called wierdos - not in the negative way but that you stand out and not normal. for instance when dd chose pistachio icecream and said hates pizza my friend called her a wierdo because she knew no 5 year old who liked pistac. icecream but hated pizza. 


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Old 06-27-2011, 08:56 PM
 
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I'm curious to know what you mean, OP, about not fitting in?  Could you elaborate?  I never fit in anywhere because I was a very bizarre (self described) individual who thought a lot about art and death and all that fun stuff.  winky.gif  My parents tried to force me to fit in (with the kids in the neighborhood and at school) and I was supremely miserable!  I was never outgoing and I felt vastly misunderstood as a human being.  My mis-fitness had nothing to do with parenting style and everything to do with personality.  I wish my parents had been more proactive in giving me the tools to navigate the world as a proud weirdo.  Contrary to that, I always felt deficient and my parents' need to wedge a square peg in a round hole only made the situation worse.

 

I see a lot of myself in DD.  Sometimes I see kids marginalizing DD because she is so intense.  I feel so horrible about her feelings but at the same time I try to make her aware that her differences are okay, and that she should celebrate them.  Sometimes we'll run across other children who are as strange as DD in personality and spirit.  That's cool.  But at the same time, I recognize that I need to spend more time in helping her navigate among the people who view her differently, or where she doesn't fit in.  My reality is that I have to live in a society of people who may reject me or think I'm weird.  Perhaps that will be DD's reality too.  I don't want her to run from the differences, but rather find a way to live amongst the differences while maintaining her identity.  It is really hard.


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Old 06-28-2011, 06:54 AM - Thread Starter
 
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elaborating.. sorry.. i didn't want to direct the conversation into the dreaded 'we're crunchy' territory...

i had a short convo with my ob yesterday about the fine line between giving kids what they want and what may allow them to have a frame of reference or popular culture knowledge vs. what the research says is best. 

we're tv free.. and it makes me wonder... sometimes when i get together with peeps of a particular generation, we spend time reminiscing about the tv we watched as kids.  it provides a common framework for conversations that lead into other things and immediately gives us something to talk about and identify with.  making the conscious choice to eliminate that makes me wonder if that's going to affect the kid later in a bad way.  though my dh was raised without a tv and he's pretty gregarious, etc.

one might wonder the same thing about NFL/homeschooling/unschooling/nonconsumerism/whatever.. and other lifestyle choices.  i just wonder if anybody talks to their kids about how their family does xyz or doesn't do xyz and how that might make them different.  i know they will all grow up to be awesome people, and do just fine... i guess i just wonder about the social aspects of being raised differently.  i guess too, it is dependent on the area where one might live, too.  i think Berkeley 'weird' is pretty different from, say, deep South 'weird.'

 

and CC-- i get that.  absolutely.  i was a pretty oddball child with few friends, and the expectations from my parents and school were that i try to be more like everybody else.  it didn't work so much for me, either ;) so you're right-- it doesn't really depend so much on parenting style, but i don't know if it helps that i know i'm making the poor-kid-who-doesn't-have-a-tv and wears weird homemade clothes, etc. 


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Old 06-28-2011, 07:13 AM
 
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My kids stick out in many ways - multicultural, unconventional physical apperances, etc - at first, the crunchy part is not even on most people's radar.  But once they learn, yet another strike against us, usually.

 

Other kids do notice differences.  Whenever this comes up, I'd just say either people are different because they're born that way, or that they do thing differently because of their personal preferences.   If other kids are being mean, I'd usually say they're still learning to be nice.

 

I have some reservation with the find-your-own-tribe approach - it'll probably make things easier.  But I worry that it might create an us-vs-them mentality, which is what I'd like to discourage to begin with. 

 

I guess, in an ideal world, in the far future, these differences should not matter because most people will be tolerant.  I can't make other people more tolerant but I'm trying hard to impart that in my parenting.  But then again, I have no idea what will work in the long run  ... totally winging it for now ... lol.gif

 


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Old 06-28-2011, 08:32 AM
 
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I understand what you're saying, and for us, I think there are more factors than just AP/NFL.  Dh and I are odd ourselves and I think that contributes to dd being raised differently.  I totally get what you are saying about "pop culture".  Dd has many good friends that are very, very different, but they manage to find a common bond and dd gets along with almost all of her classmates.  Still, while dd is sewing, watching I Love Lucy, gardening, riding horses, cooking and baking with me, enjoying live opera, musicals, and ballet, eating at nice restaurants, and doing crossword puzzles with dh, her friends are watching Disney, playing video games, listening to Justin Beeber, eating McDonald's and emulating that girl who played Ramona's sister (never can remember her name, but we did go see the movie, so maybe we're not so weird) .  Still, we're in completely different worlds, but they seem to find plenty to be friends about.

 

I think kids (young kids, like my dd's age, 9) will find a place to fit in.  It gets harder to fit in, though, as they get older. 

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Old 06-28-2011, 08:47 AM
 
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I think it depends. I think that there is some value in teaching kids to "fit in" to some extent and in some situations. While it's lovely to think every child will carve out a niche for themselves in the adult world and will be able to pursue their dreams and desires without ever caving to the man..... It's just not so. 

 

I don't tell my kids to change THEM, but I do encourage them to find what they have in common with others and pursue those when in the company of others. So your kids don't watch tv, ok. But do they like dinosaurs? I'll bet these kids have seen Dinosaur Train. Ok, let's go with that. And so on. 

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Old 06-28-2011, 08:47 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by velochic View Post

  It gets harder to fit in, though, as they get older. 



But its okay, because they grow into adults and parents like us. orngbiggrin.gif

 


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I do what works and when it stops working, then I do something else.
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Old 06-28-2011, 09:37 AM
 
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My kids are teens, and one is official "the weird kid" (she has asperger's). They go to an alternative school and there really isn't a *normal* there. Some kids are there because their parents are hippies, some are there because they have mild special needs, some because they are gifted to a point that regular school doesn't work for them, and some have had traumatic life experiences.

 

So for us, it hasn't gotten harder as they've gotten older. Not because we've found a tribe that is like us, but because we found a place where it's ok for everyone to just be who they are. It would be nice if they whole world could be like their school.

 

 


but everything has pros and cons  shrug.gif

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Old 06-28-2011, 10:02 AM
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I guess I feel like my kid hasn't found that "fitting in" required her to change who she was. She's got a lot of friends, many of whom are very different from her - really, her facebook is an amazing cross-section of people from different countries, racial and ethnic groups, social classes, ages, schooling choices, etc., etc... but I guess the one thing they have in common is being open to friendship with someone who isn't like them.

I think her attitude (and mine, I guess) has basically been to be open to trying new experiences and new ways of doing things, and to get out of your comfort bubble and try to have fun. Maybe it's different with littler kids - I do remember some of Rain's slightly older friends telling her she couldn't be a knight for Halloween when she was three because girls couldn't be knights, and she was upset... but she was indeed a knight for Halloween that year, so maybe their world was broadened a bit. I think is helped to have a diverse group of friends, too, so there were other kids she knew who were fine with her costume choice.

 
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Old 07-03-2011, 07:05 AM
 
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My kids have gone through this. My concern has been for them not to change their views/behavior if others tell them what they are doing/thinking is weird or stupid.I don't want them to change just so others will accept them. It can be the simplest things like someone telling them what they are eating is gross,and then my kid never wants to eat it again just because someone said it was gross!

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Old 07-03-2011, 08:36 AM
 
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All kids might not fit in, regardless of how we raise them. In fact, kids really are so different, they are not really the same as each other. As far as I can tell, by a certain age, the kids are trying so hard to be exactly like each other, they only see how different they are (because they do not want to be different and are not comfortable with themselves) rather than how clone-like they are. I think standing out in a good way is, well, good. One time, I attended a high school where most of the kids drank alcohol. It was in a small/rural type town and teen drinking actually was (maybe still is) a huge problem in those areas where I grew up. I did not drink, at all. It made me different. I was one of the only ones not sitting around in some farm house getting drunk with a bunch of other teenagers. I stood out. I think it is good that I was comfortable enough with my decision to not drink that I stood out. Would you believe I am a conservative Christian, who also happens to support gay marriage and have gay friends who have children? Yeah..I am definitely different. (I don't really believe the bible condemns being gay, and I am not willing to argue it here, the point is, I am different). I think it is ok. I am happy with this part of me. 

 

Anyway, being "different" is not so bad. Having principals and being comfortable with who you are is a good thing. Especially is who you are involves doing "the right thing." Eventually, kids come to their own as far as how they are, a lot of them do. I am glad my kids are not just a bunch of clones.

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Old 07-13-2011, 08:05 PM
 
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If they are not weird in one way they will be weird in another.  I was weird.  I had friends, but I was weird.  I looooved Mork and Mindy and would play some game by myself (hm..... I wonder why?) where I would talk outloud in some weird alien voice.  Yeah, I eventually ended up in theater where weirdness is a competition!  But I never fit in anywhere, I felt.  Not there, not with the "peace punks".  Not with the goths.  Not with the jocks (I was in track).  Not at the Rainbow Gatherings in my twenties.  Always there was somebody who out-hippied me.  And I still loved Depeche Mode while I listened to the Grateful Dead.  Wasn't a Deadhead.  

     So, it's my belief that you do what you do, follow your bliss, joy, comfort, and that will rub off.  That will not keep them from feeling weird themselves.  I'm sure some of my feelings of weirdness was simple insecurity.  So, I'm going to help my girls fit in some if they want help.  We have our local crowd.  Variously crunchy, farmin' families.  Then there's the kids they'll meet at gymnastics and the park and any eventual homeschool connections, and I'm sure I'll start hearing about new stuff there, too.  We are not TV-free, but we do library videos and their current pop culture knowledge is quite slim.

     They are happy now.  They are a bit different, but since they are young, it's not obvious yet, and our larger community is filled with all types (we live near Olympia and the Evergreen State College, a weird-magnet since its inception).  But if they need the right clothes or some special music or extra TV time, I'm OK with it in general.  I think the hardest time I had growing up weird was the lack of help my Mom gave me.  "Ignore them."  That was all the help she gave.  Sage advice, for an adult!  For kids of all ages, a loooong hard lesson.  So, I think I'll be more willing to support my girls when they ask for help fitting in, on the assumption that it is more lacking the means to fit in that wounds the heart, not being different in the first place.  At least, this would have helped me.

     But then, my parents probably told me all kinds of things that I just tuned out.  I was good at that, so I'll give them the benefit of the doubt.  They are dead, I gotta let those issues go.


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Old 07-13-2011, 09:38 PM
 
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But will they fit in within your family? If so, I think they'll be fine. I think being different is a problem if people are trying to change you, but if the people most important to you (your family) accept you for who you are, I think things will turn out OK in the end. I'm not saying that there won't be issues or problems, but I don't think it's possible to grow up without some emotional discomfort. "Finding yourself" is a classic in literature, after all. There's a reason for it.


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Old 07-17-2011, 11:24 AM
 
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I agree with everyone who says that it's really just a matter of learning to be ourselves and like ourselves.

 

I really believe that we all end up with the quality and quantity of friendship that we truly want in our lives -- and, by want, I mean the quality and quantity that we truly want to welcome and nurture and invest our energy in. I didn't always feel this way...I used to think that I wanted to be "popular," and my awkwardness, weirdness, etectera, was just keeping me from being liked and accepted. The truth was/is that I like people, all people, but I also really like to relax, which means that I'm often disinclined to go out on the town or to parties, or to plan gatherings...I'd much rather just have casual conversations and have people drop in for cups of coffee...

 

At this point, I'm still very relaxed in my approach to friendships but I'm more mature in my resolve to make that extra effort to keep in touch and nurture the friendships that are real. I believe that the community I'm looking for will happen -- but I want to facilitate and not hinder the process. I'm a lot less interested in whether my true friends watch or don't watch TV, sew or play computer games, listen to pop or opera, or eat crunchy celery or crunchy Doritos, than I am in the degree of respect and acceptance that they have for the individuality of each human being. I can't let go of the Latin phrase that I kind of see as the real spirit of any truly free and cohesive community: E pluribus unum.

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/E_pluribus_unum


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Old 07-19-2011, 06:58 PM
 
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I've never been really concerned about fitting in, so it's surprising to see multiple topics about it lately.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by hildare View Post

elaborating.. sorry.. i didn't want to direct the conversation into the dreaded 'we're crunchy' territory...

i had a short convo with my ob yesterday about the fine line between giving kids what they want and what may allow them to have a frame of reference or popular culture knowledge vs. what the research says is best. 

we're tv free.. and it makes me wonder... sometimes when i get together with peeps of a particular generation, we spend time reminiscing about the tv we watched as kids.  it provides a common framework for conversations that lead into other things and immediately gives us something to talk about and identify with.  making the conscious choice to eliminate that makes me wonder if that's going to affect the kid later in a bad way.  though my dh was raised without a tv and he's pretty gregarious, etc.


In case it makes you feel any better.... Even though my family wasn't TV-free, I didn't watch very much TV when I was little, so I am not able to use childhood TV watching as a common framework for conversations. I don't feel like it's caused me any trouble. Half the people I try to socialize with weren't even children at the same time I was a child, so we wouldn't have been watching the same shows anyway. Slightly more troublesome is that I still don't watch TV or very many movies. People do tend to look at me funny when I don't know who a certain actor is, and a few jokes go over my head. But that hasn't been a problem either.

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Old 07-22-2011, 01:22 PM
 
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Talk about being a weirdo...I live outside a small rural Texas town.  My dh has long hair, I have dreadlocks, my son has had a mohawk, my oldest dd has Asperger's which seems to sometimes equate to flaming weirdo, my middle dd is abnormally tall (as was I and that caused huge social issues for me when I was in school), we cloth diapered, wore our babies, co slept, left our son intact, homebirthed, ate whole foods, breastfed 'til the child was ready to wean,  and all that jazz before it was "green".  We homeschool, homestead (and *gasp* we eat the things we raise/grow!), um, eat vegetables and don't believe that corn is one of them, use unpaper, and keep bees. Oh, and here's a biggie, considering where we live--we are not Christian. Good grief, we know NO other family like us.  But we have a couple of families that know us and even though they don't do the things we do we get along well. I'm pretty used to being the weirdo, and now my oldest dd is too.  She never really noticed if other kids were making fun of her unless it was really in her face (such as when she was spit upon or the time she was jumped by 3 girls).  She didn't have social issues until college.  Now she is much more comfortable with herself and her social status and just thinks neurotypicals are the weird ones.  :o)

 

As for helping your children find their groove, always support them and be there when they need to talk.  Assure them that they are fine being who they are meant to be.  Help them find common ground with others and even coach them in "generic conversation". 

 

My homeschooled kids are surely weird.  Apple/tree and all...They have never yet encountered a social situation they couldn't navigate.  Even about spiritual choices and differences.  My dd handles herself very well when asked which church she goes to and when they are astounded that she doesn't, she is comfortable telling them why not when they ask.  Self esteem goes a long way.  Nurture that in your children and they will be fine.


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