I spent a lot of my life feeling as though I didn’t quite belong in any of the groups of people with whom I was involved. On the outside, I don’t think anyone else noticed it, but I sure felt it within me. I’d be around people, but still feel as though I was an outsider. I felt it as a child, teen, young adult and into my thirties. From my perspective, it was as if everyone else belonged, but I didn’t quite fit.
A sense of belonging is the degree to which students feel respected, accepted and supported by their adults and peers. Mueller staff try hard to communicate to students how much they are valued here in the Mueller community, however, statistics suggest that one in five teens may feel as though they don’t belong. As parents, how can we help our children if they don’t feel that sense of belonging?
Supportive parents play a huge role in providing emotional support for our children. True belonging is where a person is appreciated for their ideas, thoughts and values. Do you let your child know how much you value his/her ideas and thoughts? Do you encourage him/her to be the unique and amazing person God made and provide reassurance that it’s okay to be different?
Belonging starts with self-acceptance – believing you’re enough. Many students (and I believe this was my issue) feel as though they have to hide their true selves in order to fit in. A person belongs where others accept them for who they are. It also involves accepting others, even though they might have different views from us.
God has created us as unique individuals and accepts us as we are. Since He values us so much, surely, we can accept both ourselves and others. We all belong here even though it will feel different for each of us. Own your uniqueness and encourage your child to do so too.