To the Parents of Kids that Don’t Fit In: Your Kids are All Right.

Photo by Gerald/Pixabay

In my fifteen years as a clinician, I’ve worked predominantly with adolescents and young adults. I’ve always appreciated teenagers – there is such magic in that developmental period of trying on many different hats and identity exploration.

On countless occasions, I’ve had teenagers brought to my office by their parents, seeking support because their child isn’t meeting the expectations set by someone in authority (the school system, or the culture at large, or the athletic coaches, or the parents themselves). They don’t learn in a traditional way and don’t want to go to school, or they don’t want to participate in certain activities (ahem, ahem…sports…gym class, often). They aren’t active at family events, or just don’t like to go to them. They are too quiet and reserved, or too loud and effusive.  They just want to read, or draw maps, or do some other solo activity. Or, they just want to socialize and be with their friends, and aren’t taking their studies seriously enough. They don’t dress right. They don’t hang out with the right people. Etcetra, etcetera.

Much of the time, I’ll spend some time with these kids, and come to the same conclusion, which I then share with the parents: Good news! Your kid is all right.

More than all right, actually. Here’s some thoughts for parents that find themselves in the lucky position of having a child that doesn’t quite fit in:

Your child has gifts that are not ordinary, and this is tremendously awesome news.

Albert Einstein said, “The person who follows the crowd will usually go no further than the crowd. The person who walks alone is likely to find himself in places no one has ever seen before.” Given support and encouragement, an awkward teenager that doesn’t fit in can grow into a confident and unique adult with something brand new to create or share or teach. This is a gift to the world, should we choose to recognize it as such –  a chance to grow and to expand and to learn, and maybe experience something  beautiful. There are so many thousands of one-note voices out there singing. What a relief it is to hear original song!

Your child has Courage. More than most adults.

If your kid is different, and knows he is different, and is bravely choosing to continue on being that anyway rather than smoosh himself into a box, than he is demonstrating courage beyond measure and deserves some applause from the adults in his life. Many grown-ups aren’t strong enough to be who they really are. It is an act of vulnerability to test out just being yourself, and whether or not parents encourage or squelch that vulnerability will impact him for the rest of his life.

Your child’s questioning what is important is super valuable.

If your child learns differently, and she makes it known that she learns differently (rather than hiding the fact out of shame or fear), she creates a need for alternative learning strategies to be implemented in schools. If your child doesn’t excel in Math but makes glorious and interesting projects in Art, he is both Smart and Capable, just in an artistic area. His art pushes us to consider that, rather than cutting from Arts’ budgets and stressing “core subjects”, we might do well to invest in all areas of schooling, to accommodate for the varied and multiple gifts of all individuals. Given the chance, a child that doesn’t fit in can grow into an adult that demands that society makes room to include them, and this means things become better and more inclusive for us all.

Different people learn and contribute and behave in different ways. Individuals that don’t “fit” remind us that there is always room to stretch the proverbial box. Without that freedom, what a small and artless world we have!

You have an opportunity, if you have the privilege of a child that does not fit in, to support the growth of someone who can make the world a little more colorful, beautiful, and interesting. Rather than trying to fit them into a box, why not widen the lines of the box for them, and make room for them to be who they are? Allow being a misfit to be the awesome experience it has the potential to be.

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Originally posted on my blog, Common Humanity, at Psych



Useful Information

Some frequently asked questions and useful answers.

Online therapy works in the same way as in-office therapy, but is done online, similar to a Skype or FaceTime conversation. Clients are able to have sessions from home, work, or any other convenient location. We meet with clients using a HIPAA-compliant secure platform.

Online therapy allows you to work with us from the comfort of home, or any private location of your choosing. For some, the screen provides an added layer of comfort that makes the challenging work of being vulnerable in therapy a little easier.

Online therapy also creates the unique opportunity for you to work with us without the constraints of proximity! The practice was born in Keene, New Hampshire, but has since grown to service clients anywhere in Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Vermont, New Jersey, Florida, and New Hampshire.

Online therapy is a great option for clients that travel for work, for college students that go home during the summertime and do not want a break in their sessions, and for anyone with a challenging or inconsistent day-to-day schedule. It is an excellent choice for clients seeking a therapist with a particular specialty that they are unable to find support for locally. Some of our clients report that online therapy makes the vulnerability element of therapy a bit less intimidating.

No. For some clients with more complex symptoms or safety concerns, having a local therapist that is readily available is important in case of crisis or the need for a higher level of care. Online therapy is also a challenge for clients that do not have access to a private, quiet space to be “in session” for the hour, or for those that do not have adequate internet connectivity.

There are several reasons why we don’t accept insurance. The most important are:

Confidentiality. Insurance companies require that your information be shared with them in order to pay for services. We prefer that clients’ information is kept as confidential as possible.

The pressure to diagnose. Insurance companies require that clients are given a mental health diagnosis in order to pay for therapy. We have found that many clients benefit from therapy, but do not meet criteria for a diagnosis. Not using insurance allows clients to access therapy without being given a mental health diagnosis.

Flexibility and freedom. Insurance companies dictate the length and number of sessions they will authorize, as well as when a client is no longer eligible for the benefits of therapy. Because we do not work with insurance panels, you and we can collaborate to determine your individual needs regarding session length, frequency of sessions, and when to terminate therapy.

While we do not accept insurance, many clients choose to submit receipts to their insurance companies to receive reimbursement via out-of-network benefits. We are happy to provide these receipts for you! Please check with your insurance company for details on your benefits.



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