Fostering · Parenting · teenagers · Uncategorized

Be different

Have you ever wanted to be different? A different size or shape? A different ethnicity or ancestry? A different age or intelligence?

It seems a bit of an epidemic in the teens I have in my world! One wants curly hair because theirs is too straight, one wants straight hair because theirs is to curly. One wants to be taller, another wants to be shorter. One wants what the other has…. comparison sucks!!

Teenage land seems to be an endless comparison of how one person measures up against another! Finding a teen who can honestly say they are loving their life and who they are is rare!

How do we help them navigate the desire to be different?

Some of the wants are unrealistic! I cannot make them taller and no matter what they find on google, neither will that set of exercises or eating more of a certain food. Genetics and the level of nutrition and rest you enjoy will determine how tall you will grow. Knowing this doesn’t make the desire to be taller any less!

You can change your hair from straight to curly, or curly to straight… there are products and tools to make that happen. They are often costly and labour intensive to maintain. The change is artificial and temporary. Very few people rock their natural hair colour any more. But the root of the problem for teens is learning to love themselves. (probably for some adults too)

Then there are the things you can change… with discipline and perseverance! You can be stronger… if you do the work! You can do better at school… if you do the work! You can be thinner or more athletic… if you do the work! These changes are possible!

But don’t assume the task is equal work for everyone! There are lots of self-help books out there that will tell you how to “fix” what you aren’t happy with. The market is flooded with them, and they are obviously helping some people. The reality is that there is no solution that works for everyone when it comes to making changes! The task is complex.

So we will continue to try and help our teens to learn the difference between the things they have no control over and the things they can change if they want to put in the effort.

There are many things a foster child can’t change, no matter how much they want to! I think our foster kids are fascinated by superhero shows (especially those that manipulate time) because they would love to have the power to change a lot of things! They also avoid doing the work to change the things that are within their power sometimes. It’s easier to believe that there’s nothing you can do but go with it.

We will keep communicating that everyone’s journey to change is different! Seeking to see the changes you want is important but don’t compare yourself to someone else’s timeline or results.

If you’ve ever considered losing weight you’ve probably heard of someone who just stopped drinking coke or gave up potatoes and lost 20 pounds… You might know of a student who suddenly decided to take school seriously and with 30 minutes of homework/studying a day, moved their mark from 60% to 85% in 3 months. We love the quick results stories.

You also have to realize that some people will maintain a meal and exercise plan for a year and lose 10 pounds, and some students will do 3 hours of homework a night to move their mark 5%. Those stories are just as worthy of attention, but we don’t really like to think we might be one of them.

We have recently been exposed to the world of Track and Field. I appreciate that although there are races, and the desire to win is there, the athletes are all striving for a personal best or PB. I have seen a runner come in last, but jubilantly celebrate a PB! They just ran that distance faster than they ever have!

We could all learn from that. Strive to do better than the last time, or to maintain the level you have as your situation changes.

Cheer on those who are trying to make the changes they desire. Defend their discipline, prop up their perseverance and motivate them to reach their milestones!

I’ve said it in previous blog posts, change is hard!

Don’t just talk about the things you’d like to be different… do something about it if it’s something you can change!

In the midst of the mess

Marny

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