For perspective, the conversation was in the context of healthy relationships and how to make “real” friends.
Preteen: Sometimes I feel that it's not even a kid problem, it's a parent problem.
Me: What do you mean?
Preteen: Well, most kids are nice, they just want to have fun and do fun things. Sometimes it's the parents who put kids into categories...cool, smart, jocks, nerds, weirdos.
I just wish parents would understand that some kids are unique and weird because that's how they are, but then some kids are weird because stuff happened to them in their lives. Bad stuff. Stuff that shouldn't have happened to anyone, especially a kid. And sometimes a kid doesn't realize that they are being weird, it's just who they are.
These kids are working on not letting the bad stuff be in their head every day, all the time. Maybe not paying attention to a conversation is a way to be less scared and anxious, or maybe being too excited to see someone isn't awkward, maybe it's happiness of having a friend.
I'm not usually bothered when a kid is mean to me because they're a kid, they don't understand. What hurts is when a parent treats me like there's something wrong with me, like I'm broken. Parents are adults, and adults are supposed to be smarter than kids. Shouldn't they know that if a kid is a little different, that maybe there is a reason for that? So maybe instead of looking at me like I'm from a different planet, they could maybe think about why I am the way that I am. There is a reason.
When bad things have happened in your life, you just want to be cared about. You want the bad to stop and just be okay. I don't wake up with the goal of making people uncomfortable. But when you can't remember feeling normal, how do you know how to be normal?
If you could do something for me, that would be great. When you talk to parents or adults, could you ask them to care about all kids, not just their kid? Tell them that they may think other kids don't notice or can't hear them, but kids notice way more than adults think they do.
I just want to know that it's okay to be me.
I wanted to share this because I felt it really portrayed how impressionable kids are, especially to adults. Unfortunately this isn't the first time I've heard kids share sentiments similar to what was expressed above. Even if in passing, kids pick up on body language, cues, facial expressions. So be an adult. Even if a kid is different, unique, or even odd, be polite and care. A simple smile or hi-5 can make someone who feels weird, feel “normal”.
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Salmaan Toor is a licensed clinical psychologist practicing in Knoxville, TN. If you are interested in being notified of future posts, you can “like” The Family Center of Knoxville on facebook here or can follow me on Twitter here. Thanks for your support!