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Sunday, May 1, 2016

Now & Again: Marching to the beat of their own drum

Monday, February 27, 2006

I am not yet at a point where I have to start worrying about my children in their teenage years. But I know many who are there now, and I am not that far from it myself. Parents always worry about who their teens are hanging out with and what they are doing. If they don't worry, then they are the ones who really should worry.

They are, in a sense, forced to put their trust in the decisions their teens make. That once honest and truthful child will suddenly act like they are telling you the truth only to find out later they were not. It is a trust that is brutally broken by their want or need to "fit in".

Parents are heartbroken when they find their children are not making good choices no matter how hard they tried to teach them right from wrong when they were young. What makes a good child go "bad"? There are probably as many reasons as there are bad deeds.

One thing, I feel is a factor, is the level of self confidence your child has going into high school. I'm not talking about self-confidence in the fact they are good athletes, intelligent, or are what society feels is good looking. I am talking about the self confidence within their psyche to be their own person regardless of what anybody else thinks.

From a very young age children should be allowed to march to the beat of their own drum and not be criticized for it. Just because a child likes to do things that are different from the norm does not make them different in terms "being weird". I prefer to call it being an individual and an individual is the person who will most resist the pressures of the teenage years.

The "individual child" will stand up for themselves, not be afraid to let others know that he or she will not be led astray. They know the difference between right and wrong behavior and are more likely to choose right behavior.

The individual child has a small group of trusted friends rather than a large group of "popular acquaintances". Their trusted friends are also individuals, and will make no bones about telling each other that they messed up and to "knock it off" then still remain their friend without going down the same path.

The individual child also knows that there is more to life beyond the high school walls. Life is not all about who is dating who, or who is the most popular, or the most athletic, or the prettiest, or the even the smartest. As soon as a child or teen understands that, then the "soap opera" of high school is meaningless to them and they will survive the pressures unfairly put upon them by their peers.

Parents, individuals are who you want to raise. They are the ones wise beyond their years because they have been allowed to march to the beat of their own drum and been supported in their march by you the parents.

Parents of individuals support their child's endeavors emotionally, make them tow the line when following the rules, and cut them some slack when they make a stand for themselves and others.

Individuals are those that don't judge others by the way they look or "who they are". Individuals judge others by their strength of character. Strength of character involves not following the path of least resistance (being popular). It involves knowing the purpose of high school and knowing where they want to go from there. It involves staying on target toward set goals and not wavering from them in order to become "the norm".

Individuals often get teased and picked on by "the normal" people because in truth "the normal" people don't know how to handle someone who has the strength to be their own person.

Individuals survive this process because they feel bad for "the normal" people because they have not ever had the freedom to march to their own drum.

I hope my children continue to march to the beat of their own drum because I want them to be individuals with the strength of character to look beyond the here and now and ignore the petty pressures that high school will ultimately bring.