Monday, June 12, 2017

Teaching Individuality in a World of Conformity

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Middle school is rough. It's where kids are testing boundaries. They have hormones racing thru them. It's where the jocks and band nerds and cool kids and geeks all start finding out they don't have to be nice to each other. Middle school is when schools get bigger, classroom sizes are bigger and you lose the continuity of having one teacher to watch over your class. Everyone is shifting and growing. Not always going to good places.

All the kids just want to fit in. For those that don't find a place to shine, they just want to stay under the radar. They want to be normal, to fit in. So these kids are just all trying to sit in the middle rows of their classrooms. They are trying to keep as little attention on themselves as they can. God forbid that anything negative happens to them at school. To have an embarrassment at school is to be labeled that shame forever. 

My boys hold up a mirror to themselves to see what might be sticking out so they can tap it back down. Lest anyone use their quirks as weapons against them. 

 A lot of times, a kid has been labeled as something by the time they get to middle school. Either a good kid, or a smart kid. Maybe they are talented or athletic. Maybe a kid get's called a nerd or shows an affinity for drama. It's in middle school that we start to carve out the first steps towards what will propel us to adulthood. 

Middle school can be a battle ground for the unique. For the non-conformist, middle school is hell. 

Seeing my kids struggle thru middle school brings out all my shame and struggles during that time. My first instinct as a parent is not to let my kids shine, but to tell them to be cautious. To maybe hold back a little of who they are so that they won't get made fun of. I want my kids to be accepted by their peers. Do I desire that more than my boys happiness? Am I stunting their talents and skills because I don't want them to be mocked? 

Am I teaching my kids that another's opinion of them is more important than letting themselves be who God made them to be? 

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I am confessing that I have. I have tried to tamper with my kids personalities in the name of making life easier for them. It's not right and I am taking steps to help them learn their true selves. I had to go on that path for myself. I want my kids to know that their is only regret and pain in trying to be someone they are not for the sake of others.

I hope I can show my kids that it's okay to be unique. That conformity is not the answer. Yes, middle school is rough. There will be teasing and mocking. There will be kids that look for the weak to prey upon. But I want my boys to know that at home, we have their backs. That I will always go to bat for them. That I was wrong to try and show them the easier path. The harder path is to be themselves and I am there to help them along.

It is never to late to change how we parent.

We can always adjust our parenting to help our kids. As I gain new information, I have more tools to draw from in my parenting. 

Let us all help our kids get to a place where they can be themselves. 

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