Fostering · Parenting · teenagers

Divergent

What does it mean to be divergent?

Maybe you’ve seen the movie adapted from the book by Veronica Roth. The movie seems to imply that we all have only one character strength and are destined to live out our lives being only that. The heroes of the story are those who are divergent… able to embody the strengths of many character attributes. It puts a positive spin on something that is often portrayed negatively… being different

divergent

tending to be different or develop in different directions.

Oxford Dictionary

Teenagers are an interesting mix. They all want to be unique individuals…by being exactly like all their peers… but different.

In other words, they can’t make up their mind. They walk a fine line between fitting in and standing out.

Teenagers in foster care want to be seen by their peers as normal. They don’t want anyone to think less of them because they are not with their biological family. Their situation is more normal than they realize. The traditional family with a married couple raising their kids together is getting more and more rare.

My foster kids both have friends who are living one week at their mom’s house and one week at their dad’s, some of them with assorted step parents over the years. Every situation is different.

Neurodivergence is about having your brain work different. There is an accepted normal when it comes to how we think and operate in the world we live in; neurotypical. Most people fall into this category. The term neurodivergence is not very old… I think it was coined in the late 1990’s. Originally it referred to those who were autistic but has expanded to include the myriad ways that brains work differently.

The education system is designed to work with neurotypical kids… those who all think and learn in a way based within certain parameters. This makes school incredibly challenging for those who work outside those parameters.

Basic life skills can also be difficult for those who’s brains work in ways that are outside the norm. Whether it’s because you see things differently, process things at a different speed, struggle with remembering or can’t track with the conversation… the challenges are real.

For a foster kid just learning that there is a reason they have struggled where others did not… there is also some relief.

They are not broken or deficient. They are just living in a world that has been built around people who think different from them.

Imagine being six feet tall and living in a world designed for people four feet tall. You would constantly have difficulties, not because there is anything wrong with being six feet tall, but because you are living in a place where the “normal” height is four feet. A person who is four feet tall would have trouble in a world designed for people who are six feet tall too.

We don’t all have to be the same to be kind to one another. We can embrace the differences. If school was easy for you be thankful you were in a system that catered to your normal. If life makes sense to you and you are breezing through the responsibilities of adulting be grateful!

If you are struggling in school or life with things other people find easy… don’t believe the lie that there is something wrong with you. You might just have a brain that works different from the rest and you’re trying to live in their world.

In the midst of the mess

Marny

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