Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Going tribal

Do you bring them up to fit in or do you bring them up to be free?
I don’t fit in and I never have and it was hell if I am honest while I was growing up. You see childhood is tribal and if you don’t belong somewhere, if you don’t fit in then you are picked on and life can really be a living hell.
If you are a strong enough individual it doesn’t matter as you will attract a group to you and create a new tribe but if you are weak, shy, not as clued up then life outside a tribe can be very lonely.
When I hear people say oh yes they bring their children up to be individuals I inwardly groan. Don’t you know what you are potentially exposing your children to? Are you really that dumb? What may be cute in a five year old at the start of Reception ain’t going to go down well by the time you get to Year 4 (Year 2 for girls).
It may be marvellous that your kid can recite the Iliad, whoopee-do but as far as joining in and getting on with the others in the class all that will do is set them apart and unless they are really super cool that isn’t going to be an advantage.
The same can be said of kooky clothes, hair dos, not watching TV shows and films etc unless that is they are also exceedingly good at team sports.
I know we should all be strong enough to be individuals, and that we should express ourselves in any way we want but is that what parents should be really doing? Making the lives of their children a living hell just because they can’t be bothered to look at it from a child’s point of view?
We all need to belong. It makes us feel good. In a group we can conquer anything and it doesn’t matter that other groups are different as long as we are together we are strong. At the beginning of a child’s school career this is what matters we can be individuals later.  I am not saying one should be slavish to society I am saying that parents should prepare their kids to fit in, to join in and not be too kooky, maybe it’s a plea .
My Boy has epilepsy it makes him different and I know he longs to be the same. I feel for him because I was different and I never realised, as no one ever told me or taught me, that I could have joined in and been part of a tribe until it was right for me to be me.
I try to help my boy by keeping an eye on fashion, not slavishly, keeping an eye on the games his peers are playing the toys they are getting and using my common sense. I still want him to be individual but I also want him to be accepted and if I have to go tribal I will. It is my duty as a parent.


Little Red Hen said...

I despair of this for Boy. He is one of kids who thinks differently from other kids. I make sure he has the DSi and the Lego, without going over-board, so he can at least talk about the same things as his class-mates. He is not at all sports-minded; he's not even bothered to learn to ride a bike. And I know this will put him at a disadvantage as he progresses through the system. He desperately wants to fit in somewhere and I hope he finds his own tribe one day.

mrsnesbitt said...

Childhood is definately tribal - I have witnessed it so much as a primary school teacher. Great for those who belong - hell for the rest!

Jude said...

Hmm - I have mixed feelings on this one. I didn't really fit in either, but I didn't suffer for it fortunately. I basically want my children to be themselves, to know how to fit in should they want to, but not be afraid to be different if they don't. So many problems are caused by peer pressure, and I really want my children to be strong enough to to be able to resist it.

Expat mum said...

Neither of my boys fit in and neither of them seem to be bothered at the moment. The big guy looks like a bloody juvenile delinquent at the moment, but he's happy and at 6'3" he doesn't get much of an argument at school! The little guy is so unathletic it's funny, but he can play the piano really well now and is very confident nonetheless.
I think epilepsy, or other such differences (like my daughter's learning differences) are not so fun, but I think I concentrated on building her self- confidence rather than worrying what the other kids were up to. She is a very strong individual now.

Von said...

How right you are Tattie to deal with it this way.

There are Cuckoos in my Nest said...

Hello I have given your blog a LIEBSTER AWARD I do so enjoy reading your posts so thought i would recommend it to others. Best A. x

Rob-bear said...

I don't recall being tribal in school, but I got along. Where I was tribal was in church youth groups, not at school. So I did have a place to belong, when belonging was important. Most children don't have that kind of option these days — option meaning an alternate tribal location.

About Last Weekend said...

This is a very poignant and insightful. Again and again we are told as parents to nurture their individuality, but in reality many kids are pressured to fit in and there can be crushing consequences if they don't as I see it. As you know, at the moment we may be seeking a quieter more hippy school for my daughter with tiny classes so each can go their own way. But in the end she will have to join the masses. Funnily enough every singer she loves -Taylor Swift Lady Gaga - all say they were teased mercilessly when they were kids because they stood out. What is the answer?

Posie said...

I think we all want our children to fit in, to be popular, but they are all individuals and find their own style, and their own way. I am sure every child has moments when they feel they don't fit in, but also times when they feel loved and popular, I think what we can do as parents is encourage and support, but also remember it is their life and what we feel may be popular, may not be their choice, they may not always want to participate in every club or activity, and that is fine, so long as it is their choice.

Anonymous said...

I can completely understand where you are coming from as someone who never fitted once I got to senior school and got bullied horrendously for it. Although I say I don't care and I believe it has made me a stronger more uncompromising person, I can't say that it hasn't left subconscious scars. I think there can be a balance, but your school years do seem to last forever and it would break any mother's heart to see her child alone and friendless.

Yeah, I don't blame you at all x

Anonymous said...

Ps: You've been awarded the Liebster blog award, yes really!

Spencer Park said...

When I used to foster a social worker told me that the majority of kids in care wanted to be like wallpaper so they could blend into the background. They didn't want to be anything special, instead, they wanted to be ordinary.

Instead, a lot of the time, they were stigmatised and, I doubt, they ever really got over it!

Bluestocking Mum said...

I'm with you on this Tattie. At this age, kids like nothing more than to be seen as 'normal' and one of the crowd.

My eldest also had epilepsy so I can really relate to your points.

It's only now as he's older and more confident that he actually strives to be a little different and his distinctive character definitely sets him apart from his peers.


diney said...

This is a great post. Childhood is such a moral maze and we all want our children to fit in, whether it is being tribal or being accepted as an individual.I encourage both by keeping up to date with what is in with music, games, films and technology so that she knows about them even if she hasn't got them, but i also encourage her along her acting route, which does single her out as being different and engender some bitchy comments from mean girls. It's one of life's parental conundrums. Sounds like you are handling the situation really well.

nappy valley girl said...

I thought this was a great post. I never felt I totally fitted in, especially as a teenager, and in some sense I think my mother encouraged this - eg. suggesting clothes that were unusual (No-one else will have one, dear!). I think you're taking the right approach; as others have commented, when you are older it is easier to assert your individuality.

Go on you know you want to...


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