She seemed to grow up slower than some other kids, and never quite fit in.
As she entered adolescence, her parents started getting worried. It was that look. The dark clothes, extreme makeup, a seeming obsession with what her parents called “the dark side” and she called reality. Amanda really only had one good friend, and it was never quite clear who followed and who led. Little problems at school, an apathetic attitude that seemed to ooze out of her pores and drip on the kitchen floor – Amanda’s mother came to me when she refused to take a shower more than once a week and would only eat french fries and yogurt for days on end.
I just don’t understand her! She has never caused us any real problems, but now - this weird look, the black clothes and makeup and nail polish and slinking around like she’s half dead - I just don’t know what to do with her!
We started out simply giving Amanda’s parents a place to vent. They were so frustrated with their inability to understand where their daughter was coming from, sometimes they were nearly incoherent.
They had been focused on her appearance – the black clothes and extreme makeup – along with her slouchy resistant attitude and disinterest in almost everything. What they had missed was what the “Emo” in Emo kid really stands for.
Emo. Emotional. Feeling things deeply, empathetic beyond what would be considered “typical” for that age, whatever it is. But even beyond empathy, emo kids feel everything more intensely, yet tend to be absolutely unmoved by an appeal to behave (or look) a certain way for your convenience. They tend to have an almost immovable unwillingness to fit in or conform. When they reject the grand societal (or family) messages that say they need to be / act / look / perform a certain way, they begin to shut down on the outside. But inside they may be experiencing emotions to a nearly unmanageable degree.
And you may never have any clue what’s really going on beneath the surface.
Five days after I first met Amanda’s parents, I received a frantic message. Amanda had just badly beaten a younger student. Her father was in a rage, her mother devastated, the other student in the hospital and Amanda arrested and expelled from school for “bullying behavior”.
If you’re a parent of an Emo Kid, or grandparent, teacher, neighbor, friend… you’re going to want to read the series coming up in September all about Emo Kids. What makes them tick. How to reach them. How to prevent them from having tragic consequences to being lost in their emotional reality. I’ll also be publishing an ebook that you won’t want to miss. Emo Kids have a very special place in my heart – can you tell?
What has your experience been like with Emo Kids? Are you a parent / teacher / grandparent / friend / neighbor of an Emo Kid? If your son or daughter friends with (or dating) an Emo Kid? Were you an Emo Kid once? Share your experience here – we grow together and learn from each other!