She's not into what she thinks girls her age are "supposed" to be into. How do we show her that what she
likes is what's normal, and maybe encourage her to reach out to find the other kids that like that stuff too? Is that what we should
posted by kostia to Human Relations (97 answers total) 63 users marked this as a favorite
My close friends and I refer to each other as "our people" and often bemoan the fact that it took us all until we were in college or later to find each other.
We all have children and stepchildren, who have all spent a lot of time together since they were babies and toddlers. The oldest of them has been growing away from the others for a year or two now. She's 11, finishing grade 5 this week, will be 12 in December. She's at an age where she's noticing that she's not "normal." As we all do at some point, especially during the hell of adolescence, especially if we're into good books instead of cute lip gloss.
I want to somehow help her onto the path where she will find HER people, and I'm hoping she can skip at least some of her awkward, outside-looking-in, nobody-gets-me years.
Her mom, my closest friend, emailed me today asking for ideas. I suggested you guys might have some, and she was all for it. So here goes.
She's really feeling lonely at school and uninterested in the typical stuff girls her age like. She and I talked for a long time about things she's "supposed" to like or know, and how she thinks a lot of it is stupid. She said she likes adults a lot more because they don't care about how she looks or what she reads or watches on TV. I am trying to be positive and tell her that she's a great person no matter what and that she likes what she likes, and she should be proud of herself and her interests. It's so hard seeing her go through this and not have self confidence.
She says she's interested in fantasy, mystery and made-up worlds because anything can happen in them. She thinks she's supposed to be interested in boys, makeup, boy bands, the Disney Channel, "who Taylor Lautner is dating", and the right clothes. She tried to describe some boy drama that [her friend's] friends were having, then just shrugged. "I don't understand it, Mom," she said. "And I'm not sure why I am supposed to care." She ackowledges that she likes the same music as kids her age, but she doesn't know anybody who reads the same kinds of books she does. She's struggling with not being interested in some of that stuff and feeling awkward or ignorant when it comes up in conversation or some dumb kid says, "You don't know who One Direction are?!?!? OMIGOD."
She's just so sad. She seems so pent up; I found her crying in the bathroom. I'm going to try to get her to figure out how to express her feelings more this summer. We talked a lot about finding your people, and how it takes time and patience. It's easier for some people, but everyone has a group somewhere. I also told her that she can and will have friends for different things, like school, Girl Scouts, band, video games, reading, etc. She says she likes going on YouTube and playing games because nobody cares what she looks like or what band she listens to.
I am trying like hell to help her avoid what I went through. I still have painful memories of that time in my life and how hard it was to dig myself out of the hole I was in. I want to cry every time I see her struggling with just being herself. As far as I know, she doesn't have a bully, so we have that going for us. I think she's confident enough to know that she's not interested in the "typical" teenage things, but she's just looking for her people. Part of me doesn't want her to fill her life entirely with all things books, video games, and fantasy, but that makes her happy, so who am I to judge? And I don't feel like I'm judging; I just want her to continue to try new things, even if they make her nervous. If I was an asshole parent, I'd sign her up for sports and force her to participate, which is what my dad did with me. I am grateful that we do share some interests, although I can't play a video game to save my life.
So far her mom and I have come up with some ideas:
- an older-kids reading group at the library
- a science fiction convention this fall (I've been to many and have wanted to take this kid to one since she was 7)
- an anonymous Tumblr
- her own private login on the family Mac with journaling software
- girl-positive, fantasy-positive webcomics like Girl Genius
- recommendations from our friend who runs a local manga/anime/comics club
- board-game nights at the local gaming store
- more time with us without her little sister and the other younger kids
- book-related events like the National Book Festival (we're near DC)
What've you got?