18 thoughts on “Conformity and other Childhood Perils

  1. Great words and meaning. I am the same with our sons, if they are on their own at times it is ok. They like me have something going on in their mind which is more important and beneficial than what the ‘cool’ thing is. My sons can shift between being on their own and with the cool crowd. I like that. Following you for more of your thoughts. Stephen.

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  2. I appreciate your honesty about your initial reaction to your son sitting separately from the crowd. I know I often react to my daughter’s actions or choices based on my OWN insecurities. “What will my college-educated, femenist friends think of my daughter’s latest princess obsession?” (Which I wrote about here http://winterfarmwrites.com/2014/10/24/the-princess-farmer/ )

    I want my kids to march to the beat of their own drum…but I don’t want it to be a lonely experience. I want their uniqueness to attract others to their side. But that’s not always how it works–especially in middle school.

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    • Couldn’t agree more. I love when people who don’t have kids read the blog as some kind of prelude or introductory course. I appreciate you taking the time to read this stuff and comment. But since you don’t have kids, perhaps you might want to wander through some of your older posts. You might find them, uhmmm… enlightening. And being different isn’t just interesting, it’s essential, I think!

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  3. This is my first experience reading in WordPress,Thank you for this blog:).It is really true that being kind is a warmest act we can teach and show to our kids.Being cool is a warm up.Thank you for sharing..:)

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  4. D sounds a lot like Yiannis actually and I have felt the anguish of him not fitting in more often than I would like to admit. I once read something that I try to remember whenever in doubt: don’t try to change your child into someone you are more comfortable with, love and cherish the child he actually is. I think that is the essence of unconditional love.

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  5. At some stage in life we need to make this step. It is hard whenever it happens. I moved from Ireland to USA age 14 and was very different from the “normal” kid in high school. I was so different that I was kind of interesting to the kids who led – but I was scary to those who just wanted to fit in. Rita Mae Brown said something like “conformity is that everybody likes you except yourself” – some people never develop the capacity to validate themselves and spend all their life trying to get others to validate them. It is a recipe for anxiety.

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  6. A very interesting read. As a schoolboy I was very much the rebel and as a redhead I always stood out. I never suffered bullying for a variety of circumstances (I was outstanding academically but also good at sport and other cultural activities like acting and music). I also had great self-confidence, largely because my parents were always very supportive. However, I was always a bit of an outsider and didn’t belong to any particular group. Perhaps because I was good at so many things, I spread myself too thin and in the end did not do as well academically as was expected to do. However, after a gap year and a false start in my first year at university, I finally found my way and got a good result in my degree which set me on my way to a long and interesting career.

    My children are like chalk and cheese. My 15 year old daughter is a fiery rebel with a long curly red mane. This makes her stand out from the crowd but she suffered some isolation and a particularly unpleasant case of bullying (which in my view was not handled well by the school). She is very intelligent but underachieves academically because of her tendency to be confrontational with her teachers. I often wonder whether we made the right choice sending in sending her to a “good catholic school”.

    My 12 year old son on the other hand is very much a group player. He loves his football and his computer games (he’s a big Minecraft fan) and is very much a part of the group. He’s not a total sheep because as another redhead he has plenty of character. However, he has learned to be less confrontational and this means that his academic results are much better than his elder sibling. It remains to be seen if he continues in the same vein.

    At the risk of sounding sexist, I also think there is a big difference between boys and girls at that age. Adolescent girls can be much more unpleasant than boys. Perhaps because they do not normally tend to come to blows physically (although there are exceptions), they often vent their frustrations and jealousies in a more spiteful and insidious way. I realise that there are exceptions to this but from my own experience my daughter has had a much harder time than my son. Perhaps it’s just a group thing and my son has been luckier to find a good group, but talking to other parents I realise that I am not alone in my view.

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    • Hey Joe, (no, I’m not referencing Jimmy Hendrix there), thanks for stopping by. Regarding your last point, I do think that boys and girls interact in fundamentally different ways, and that girls can be more cattily cruel.

      My kids are completely different as well. Our youngest is outgoing and perpetually smiley. I’ve been surprised recently that much older kids in his school (he’s in preschool and these boys are probably in year 4 or 5) greet him by name in the morning and want to play with him after school. It’s bizarre. Why would 8-10 year-olds want to pal around with a 4 year old? I don’t worry about his popularity, certainly. In fact, it’s made me just a touch anxious that he’s going to hang out with an older crowd in later years, but we’ll just have to wait and see.

      Isn’t it strange how different your kids can be? If you haven’t read it, you might be interested in this one. https://fieldnotesfromfatherhood.com/2013/10/17/happy-sad-shy-glad-is-personality-pre-programmed/

      Anyway, best of luck with the kids, and thanks again for the read. Cheers!

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  7. Great read, as always! My son has already slipped down the screen route, though not at school thankfully. He likes his Horrid Henry books, but other than that I’m having a hard time making him see how magical they are – sad for me, as a bookworm and writer myself (he calls me a booknerd, which I take as a huge compliment). So go D, I would be hugely proud if I was you – he’ll find his own way to fit in, other indepently-minded souls with big imaginations and long attention spans like himself. And he’ll be way cooler than those game geeks. By the way, what’s wrong with curling? 😉

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    • There’s nothing inherently wrong with curling, it just seems conveniently comical. I’m not really worried about D – I know he’ll be just fine – but there are moments when you want your kids to be part of the gang. If only to make their lives a little easier. But as I wrote, I’d rather have a fiercely independent kid who doesn’t really care about ‘fitting in’ than a kid who obsesses about it. No matter what, this whole parenting thing is always interesting.

      And, as always, thanks for stopping by!

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