‘Not Just Like Any Other Child’ by Tameka Anderson published in Great Health Guide (Jan 2016). Tameka’s childhood struggle in foster care made her realise that she could make a difference in children’s lives. Read her inspiring story and discover how you could change your life around to help others.
Read other Impact articles on Great Health Guide, a hub of expert-inspired resources empowering busy women to embody health beyond image … purpose beyond measure.
IMPACT: Not Just Like Any Other Child
written by Tameka Anderson
Born addicted to crack cocaine is how my story begins. I was taken away from my mother at birth and immediately placed in foster care where I would spend 21 years going from home to home. I spent the first nine years of my life being bounced back and forth from foster home to my mother because in America, the State feels that every child needs to be placed with their biological parent. I guess I proved them wrong because by the time I was 9, I was extremely bright and strong-willed. I was assigned what is called a court-appointed special advocate (CASA) and that is when I told her I didn’t want to go back home anymore. I knew that my mother would never get away from drugs and I was just tired of being an adult to my younger sister and older brother.
So from the age of 9 until I ‘aged out’ at 21, I remained in foster care. Having lived in these different environments, with different parenting styles and methods, my self-esteem and self-value was very low. I felt that if my own mother didn’t want me, who in the world could and would ever want me. I adopted this mindset and it stuck with me throughout the years. In one of the homes that I was placed in for the longest amount of time, it seemed that something was wrong with me because my foster mother felt that I was not just like any other child.
I was tested as a child and discovered to have an IQ of a genius. From that moment forward my foster mother did challenge me. As a result, I went on to learn how to play 4 instruments, sew, crochet, cook, clean and recite long speeches in front of crowds. I was considered a prodigy child until I hit my teens. Then it was as if the rug was snatched from under me. I would go back to being invisible and it took my self-esteem to a new low.
I dealt with self-esteem issues well into my adult years until one day I was at work and broke down crying because I just knew there was more in me and I was meant to be better. I could feel it. I began to reminisce about times as a child when I would perform in front of groups of people and get standing ovations. I wanted that back. I decided from that point forward that I wanted to find out who I was and my purpose in life. I began to research famous speakers and study them. I studied people like John Maxwell, Stephen Covey and Brian Tracy, to name a few.
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Those speakers were confident, poised and sure of themselves. They also taught about how to become that type of person. The more I learned, the more inspired I became. I would start thinking about what I loved to do. I loved children. So I immersed myself in the lives of children. I would watch all of my friends’ children; I would volunteer to teach Sunday school, vacation bible school and children’s church. I would teach summer camp and after school programs. Any place I could be around children, I was there. I then applied to be a court-appointed special advocate (CASA) for youth in the foster care system. That catapulted my results with children.
The more time I spent around children teaching them what I knew, the more the children wanted to be around me. The parents would flock to me and ask me, ‘What do you do with the kids because you are so good with them?’ I knew then I was on to something. I was dubbed ‘the child whisperer’ because people told me I could get results from children that most could not. So I designed my first program for youth to teach them how to increase self-confidence through using their own voice, imagination and creative talents. The parents loved it and the students couldn’t get enough of it. That’s when I knew my purpose was to help others increase self-confidence through changing their mindset and I have loved every minute of my life since that day.
Author of this article:
Tameka Anderson is an American author, court-appointed special advocate for youth in foster care and sits on Governor’s Board of Children & Family Services Task Force team. She is a parenting coach and self-confidence mentor for professional mothers. She has coached mothers for years to build confidence, boost performance and increase happiness in their children. If you struggle to boost performance in your child, check out her free masterclass ‘Ways to Boost Performance in Your Child’. Contact Tameka through her Facebook page or her Facebook group page.