Thursday, July 12, 2012

Ism parenting great?

Like any self respecting over-thinker, I spend waay too much time trying to imagine how my children will think of me once they have realized how completely they are their own people, or in fewer words - when they are adults.  Is this me projecting what is turning out to be a never ending case of navelitis (aka navel gazing) onto their future selves?  Maybe.

But, come on.  What cognizant adult doesn't at some point evaluate what kind of job their parents did raising them?  Amiright? 

As it happens, I tend to go a little whole hog (a terrifically horrible metaphor considering the subject at hand) with my philosophical and ethical standpoints.  My friendly therapist has told me that I can be a little bit 'all or nothing'.  She's totally wrong, of course. 

So, Ive been thinking lately about the ways my future adult children will characterize my parenting. Specifically, with regard to my personal passions that are currently affecting their lives in very real ways.

I am a feminist - That means that I feel obligated to point out the ways that women are considered less than.  Or the ways that women are - different, yes and - equal to men.

I am agnostic - But I used to be a committed believer.  So once there was church.  And now there isn't.  Questions about the world around us are met with scientific responses.  And still lots of awe and wonder.

I am a recovering germophobe - Holy wow, have I fought the good fight with this one!  I think I've done pretty well, but they still aren't allowed under my sheets unless they have JUST had a shower.  (Hey, I can't let EVERYthing go.)

I am an advocate of vegetarian and/or vegan lifestyles (though I am not myself a strict adherent...yet) - though I've been flirting with vegetarianism for years, it's been very recently (after reading Eating Animals) that I we made the switch in our home.  It's been a giant adjustment for all of us, but I think more so for the kids.  The Mister and I do not eat land animals at all.  We still eat fish occasionally when we are out; the kids are free to eat meat wherever it is available to them (parties, other people's homes etc.) because I don't want to force it on them.  And eating is a Very personal choice.  (More on this later.*)

I am a firm believer in self-directed learning and therefore, educational reform - Go ahead, roll your eyes.  Done?  Okay.  You know the drill.  "School is a waste of time, it kills creativity, kids don't get to know themselves, they are led to believe that learning is about grades, they don't really get a lot out of it, blah blah blah."  This is my spiel.  If you don't know it yet - you can have your eye full at my other blog.

I have very strong opinions about equality and social justice.  I will not tolerate any of the prevailing phobias that seem to have (largely) the right wing types in a chokehold.  An ideology best summed up by this marvelous sign I recently saw on this (very awesome, by the way) tumblr blog.

Things like that. 

Each of those are probably blog posts in and of themselves.  How does my feminism affect my daughter?  My son?

I don't think I'm preachy.  I often interject things as a "did you know...?", for example, just the other day we were driving downtown and we passed these big beautiful posters of the women who spearheaded the Suffragette Movement in our country.  Of course, I pointed out to my daughter and her friend who was with us at the time, who those women were and why they and what they did are very important and worth celebrating and honoring.  They were shocked to learn that there was a time when women were not able to vote.  Mostly though, they were befuddled about WHY.

*With the no meat thing, there has been some friction, to be sure.  I've been very open and honest with them about WHY we have made that choice for our family.  I talked to them about factory farms and what it means for our environment and the welfare of the animals.  I have shown them a few images of the suffering the animals are subjected to, but no movies.  I am trying to stay away from scare tactics (poorly clad duress, really) while still presenting the facts.

But then...

This is so much about THEM and THEIR future too.  SOMUCH.

I am caught between my very strong, core belief that they need to be left to come to this on their own, and the philosophical/ethical dilemma of what it really means when they DO eat meat.  Would anyone knowingly feed their children an animal they KNOW was too sick to stand when it was slaughtered?  An animal that has so many antibiotics in it's system it's bound to affect their own health?  An animal that was tortured leading up to and while being killed?

I am having a really hard time with that.  This is both about them and much bigger than them.  I know they can't grasp that.

But isn't that we as parents are here for?   We gather information and make the best possible choice that is available to us.  Wherever possible, this family includes all of it's members in the process.  And sometimes we don't.    Will they be jumping for joy at all of our decisions?  Do I even need to answer that?

Ultimately, I am still just a regular Jane on a journey to continue to better my self and the world around me.  It would be inauthentic and stupid of me to try to keep that from my children.

Even if it may take them decades to get it.

P.S. I do not adhere to any absolute concepts.  Reality is fluid.  As is truth.  Even love can look like harm.

No comments: