What Should You Do If Your Child Becomes Alternative?
For a lot of parents the idea of their child becoming in any way alternative is nothing short of a nightmare and it very often ignites thoughts following the trend of, ''What did I do wrong?'' or ''How do I stop this from happening?''. This fear is usually caused by stereotypes surrounding various alternative subcultures, which unfortunately people still buy into despite them holding no real value.
It is completely understandable to have concerns for your child's welfare especially if they have a seemingly overnight change in personality and appearance which would of course leave you wondering if everything is alright. In the end, all parents really want is the best for their children but being alternative is not always a sign of your child being in any way unhappy.
For those of you are facing this situation with your children or loved ones I thought it would be helpful to share some of my thoughts on how best to approach them regarding your concerns. Hopefully this will dispel your worries and show you that this change they are going through is more often than not, just their way of expressing who they really are.
Abandon the Stereotypes
As I mentioned above, the fear that parents have surrounding their children becoming alternative is usually down to the many stereotypes that have circulated over the years.
It is very common for people to make assumptions about those who are part of an alternative community and in doing so this unfortunately reinforces the negative outlook that a huge number of people already hold.
- ''Dressing in dark or reaction provoking clothing means that they are dangerous, evil or Devil worshipers.'' Someones dress sense does not define who they are as a person. Of course some individuals will fit that description but not an entire community.
- ''Dressing alternatively shows that they are immature and unable to grow up.'' Alternative people are no different from anyone else in society. We can have ambitions, jobs and responsibilities that we take just as seriously as anyone who doesn't fall into this category.
- ''Alternative people are depressed and self harm.'' Again, being different does not determine your mental well-being. There are alternative people who do suffer from mental health issues but equally there are ''normal'' people who suffer also. Many alternative people are happy, bubbly and excitable despite having a possibly gloomy appearance.
- ''Alternative people are disrespectful.'' Far from it, most people are caring and will go out of their way to assist others in any way possible.
- ''It's just a phase.'' Some young people do go through a phase of dressing alternatively for the ''shock factor'' but this isn't the case for everyone.
- ''If I have an alternative child, I am a bad parent.'' Your child being alternative is in no way down to anything you have done wrong. They are embracing themselves and if anything you should be proud to have raised them with the confidence to explore who they really are.
Just like everyone else, those who are alternative also have individual thoughts, interests and personalities. It is important to remember that when your child is becoming alternative, they are still who they have always been. Nothing is changing they are just becoming more adventurous with there appearance and hobbies.
Like with every relationship in life communication is the key to a strong bond so ensure that your children are comfortable enough to be able to open up to you no matter what.
For a lot of young people, discussing their interest in an alternative subculture with their parents can feel difficult as they fear their reaction will be to jump to conclusions and side with the above stereotypes.
Engage with your child and be honest about what your fears are, ask any questions you feel necessary and try to remain open minded.
Learn About Their Interests
There are many different alternative subcultures and each are unique in their own way. For this reason it may be beneficial for both you and your child if you do some research on the community that they are becoming involved in.This will increase the likelihood of you child opening up to you more and it may also help you to understand what has drawn them to the subculture in the first place if you understand a bit more about it.
Being alternative can become a very isolating life for some people, so its important that as a family you support your child and encourage them to experiment with their creativity despite what others may think and say. Let them know that you are proud of them regardless of their lifestyle choices and continue to include them in normal family activities. This lets them know that you still love and value them the same as you did before.
Sadly, a lot of parents make the mistake of attempting to force their children to become ''normal'' through removing clothing options and banning certain hobbies and interests from the family home. If this is something you have considered as a parent then I urge you respectfully not to. Crushing your child's creativity and forcing them to fit the mould you expect of them will not change who they are, it will simply encourage them to pull further away from their family and could potentially result in them suffering from a psychological disorder.
To summarise, you haven't failed as a parent if your child becomes Goth, Punk, Lolita or part of any other alternative community. They are simply being themselves and this should be encouraged and seen solely as a positive thing.
I hope this article has given some helpful insight, feel free to leave any comments or questions you may have below.