Tuesday, January 21, 2014

On Parenting & Sons of Anarchy


I am feeling a twee bit ranty and I’ve got a few things on my mind.
Just to be clear? This is two separate topics in one post, not, like, using SOA as parenting advice. Although…

I just started season 2, so I think it’s safe to say I’m not offering any spoilers. Because if you haven’t seen Sons of Anarchy yet, you’re possibly a Luddite and probably don’t read my blog. In a recently-watched episode, Henry Rollins’ character (which gives me fits because I LOVE him but he’s a white supremacist in the show and attacks and assaults a female character in the worst way) mentions how he had to take his kid out of soccer because EVERYONE GOT A TROPHY. And that should be earned (which I agree with). But then he goes on to say that (paraphrasing) giving the impression that everyone is equal is dangerous, obviously in a racist way (which I don’t agree with). 
So, kind of SOA as parenting advice; but only in the most reductive way possible.
Also, in this episode, it’s where Jax (played by Charlie Hunnam) tells his on and off again girlfriend (Tara) who was also his first love that though he had slept with hundreds (or more) of women over the years, he wouldn’t recognize them because he only sees her face no matter who he’s with. Because he loves her so much and he’s a bad boy and she’s the girl who can fix him, fill up his empty yearning. I’m paraphrasing here, but that line:
She’s the only one who can fix him.
That’s the money shot. That’s what the ladies want. That’s why we kiss frogs and put up with bad behavior, because we’re all looking for that bad boy with the heart of gold and eyes only for us. That’s swoony.
My favorite episode of season 1 was the 2nd-to-last, which is opened and closed by a version of the song "Forever Young," brilliantly performed by Audra Mae & the Forest Rangers. Incredibly powerful story packed into that episode, it really stood out in an emotional way. And the music in every episode--a secondary reason to watch, in no small part because of Katey Sagal's contributions (who knew?). 
But I digress;
As far as the parenting goes? Well, that’s where the ranty part comes in. Because I don’t like this judgment swing that I’m seeing. Maybe it’s a by-product of where I live, maybe it’s just people feel justified to try to bully everyone into doing things like they do.
Another spoiler alert: I don’t parent like you do. I make different choices. I started making these choices when I got pregnant (possibly before; that was a really long time ago), and continue to make changes and adjust my tactic as my relationships as a wife and mother and experience with both grows.
I see my role as a parent as extremely important, and I feel my job is to raise respectful, kind and fully-functional adults. The way I do this is by being honest with my kids about the bad or scary things that exist in the world. By making mistakes—lots of them!—and letting my kids see my mistakes and how I move forward from them. By letting my kids make mistakes—as many as I can stomach—without swooping in to rescue them. By pushing them to excel when I see that they need a push, by helping them to regroup when I recognize that they’re overwhelmed. By listening to what they tell me, giving advice and taking it. By letting them know that communication is not just a two-way street, it’s like a multi-lane highway with lots and lots of on and off ramps, and that if they’re struggling with something—even if it’s something that I might have said or done—they can tell me and we will fix it together.
By letting them know that they should respect other people and not tolerate others disrespecting them—and if they feel disrespected they have the tools to communicate and work through it.
By helping them to be successful in school and activities. By understanding that they are doing the best they can and they are human—and letting them see that I’m doing the same.
I’m tired of judgment. I’m tired of the kids coming home and telling me the shitty things that other kids judge them on because we don’t go to church or because they have different beliefs or because they like something or dislike something else. I’m tired of people looking at me like I abuse my children when I verbally correct them in public.
Yes, I understand your concern when you see my daughter look so dejected and sad, and you jump to the conclusion that I must be hurting her and snap at me to leave her alone … and what you don't know is that I did just tell her the worst thing I could have told her—I told her that she couldn’t buy more Pokémon cards (the horror!) and now she's going to be pissy about it for a while. 
Or when my son has a panic attack and you see him and give me that “why are you pushing him so hard?” look but I know that's not it and when I sit down and talk to him later it turns out it’s something completely different he's been worrying about, something he hadn’t verbalized to me yet because he didn't even understand that it was knocking around in his brain looking for a way out, but something we talked about and figured out.
It’s time for another spoiler alert, because, guess what? Kids are dramatic. Mine are, anyway. I don’t know about yours, because I don’t know your kids. I don’t know your family.
And while, yes, I do think that it takes a village and we need to protect the children in our community from abuse, from neglect, keep them safe and ensure their needs are met, can we please not jump to the conclusion that everyone else who does it differently is doing it wrong?

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