When I was in school, I was friends with everyone. While I tended to hang with the ‘popular’ crowd the most, there were times when I didn’t. I would get an ice cream with someone my friends wouldn’t have spent time with. I’d go to the beach with kids who were wrongly labeled as “dorks.”
They were fun and I felt like I could be myself with them.
I’ve always been a social person and I don’t judge where you live or shop. I like to get to know everyone. When I was a teenager, I didn’t need all of my friends to be in the popular crowd, but it was important to me that I was. It made me feel included and confident. I know for a fact I had less to worry about that my “unpopular” friends because we used to talk about it.
While I wasn’t a perfect child, I can honestly say, people tell me to this day that they remember me being nice to everyone in high school. That has meant more to me than being remembered as someone who ran with the popular crowd. That’s my ultimate goal as a parent; I want my kids to be remembered as being nice to everyone.
But as a mom to kids who are in 7th, 9th, and 11th grade I admit it: I want them to be popular too. Oh, I know you aren’t supposed to say that. You are supposed to act like you don’t care and you’re only mission is to raise nice kids who do well in school and take care of themselves.
But I’m not wrong to want all those things for my children. That doesn’t mean I want them to go through extremes to fit in to the popular crowd. If they have a friend who doesn’t treat them right, regardless of their social stature at school, I’m going to tell them they are better off without being treated that way.
Yes, I teach them material things aren’t important, being kind matters more than who is HoCo king, and you shouldn’t measure your self worth by how many people want to sit with you at lunch.
The truth is, I don’t know a parent out there who would say they didn’t care if their child was popular or not, simply because they know it matters to their child if they are well liked and accepted. That doesn’t mean they want their child to sell their soul in order to fit in.
I have friends who weren’t part of the elite crowd in high school and are still torn up about it almost three decades later. Those feelings of not belonging never go away and it breaks my heart knowing they still carry that burden around. I don’t want my kids to feel that way.
You can want you kid to be the kindest child and be popular. You can want them to set an example and not get into trouble and still want them to be accepted. Of course, if they have to choose you want them to choose the right thing– to make the right decisions and be compassionate and considerate.
But when it comes to your kids, of course you want them to be liked and you want them to be liked well. No one wants to see their child hurting because they feel left out or think they don’t have friends. When they hurt, we hurt. Not being in the “right” crowd can make them feel less than at times and they are going to react to it.
Life is tough though. A lot of us have kids who aren’t popular. I think the best thing every parent can do (regardless of how popular their child is) is teach their children life doesn’t end in high school. They have so many more awesome years to come, and they best thing they can do is to be true to themselves.
We can remind them that labels don’t matter but I think we all know when it comes to being popular, we all wanted it when we were their age and we want it for them. And really, there’s nothing wrong with that sentiment at all.