Parenting for me is based on a few principles;
1) What I loved about how my parents did it
2) What made me feel awful that my parents did (this is not a knock on them as much as it is about being self-aware)
3) Learning from your current times and those in your social circle who you admire
4) Flexible and evolving way to parent
5) My most important - know your child
Having said that I grew up in a house, in an area, with the idea that privacy was a limited thing. Basically there was none - if you wanted privacy you learned the art of hiding well (cigarettes come to mind). There was also no social media and the phone was in a place, attached to a wall, where "personal" conversations should never stray to where they could not be overheard by a parent. Well you could have them, code was used, or before parents got home. In a NYC neighborhood you were watched so your privacy was limited there too. None of this actually prevented us from doing what I would kindly call stupid things or experimenting but it did remind us that much like "1984" someone was watching and that someone would not hesitate to whack you upside your head or worse tell your parents and there would be hell to pay,
As an adult I am appreciative that all of these adults that interfered in ways that were necessary.
As a parent much like Apple I have a conundrum. We live in a world where social media is so much more far reaching, allows access to information both good and terrible and most of all it contributes kids being able to hide behind a virtual wall to do things they most likely would have not done in person.
Much like Apple I know that for the good of a situation I may have to create that backdoor and check in on my kids not because I want to spy on them but because as a parent I am torn between their privacy and my need to provide good counsel. To digress but for a moment, because you know when something is hard a digression is a nice way to avoid next steps, the Apple thing is really hard for me. I get what the government is asking for, they could after all search a safe or a home, I also see how they could say why can't just your engineers open this phone up and then delete and get rid of whatever program you used to do it. I get that there is danger in this virtual world and no one wants another attack. Yet how are ensuring that it is a one time thing, what happens when say a Chinese government agency asks a global company like Apple to do that to dissidents who they see as terrorists too? Where is the check and balance? I am glad I am not Apple - I am sad that we need to have this discussion.
I digressed enough to get back to my life. How do we parent without taking away a necessary skill that our children need - the idea of how to make good choices, to live with consequences, to differentiate between who is a good person to have in your inner circle and one who you need to not allow in there. We want them to be able to come to us after they have made a mistake yet will they if they think we are constantly checking on them? I know I did not share a lot of things with own parents based on what I assumed their reactions would be. I know I hid things and sometimes found myself in a tough situation that I was lucky enough to navigate out of but I did not do it through them.
The right to privacy is important as part of a developmental cycle especially for my almost 12 year old. He needs to know that he can do those inappropriate things, like curse with his friends, without having me over his shoulder. He needs to know that he cannot bully or participate in nasty chats or send inappropriate texts to people without a consequence because in life he will need to make those choices when I no longer can check in on him. Yet a little bit of snooping or the threat of it may just be the tool that drives that choice. I treasure my privacy, I do not like anyone including anyone I had as a partner to have access to my mail/email/journals/texts/answer my phone, there is no need as I do not touch theirs. I know my 9 year old could care less about his at this point but the tween well he is navigating different waters and with that comes my need to know when to close my eyes and when to help open his by discussing what I have seen.
My added hardship is never stop telling my kids that on-line is never really private. So even if I do set up some parameters, which I tell them about, anything they post, share, snapchat, instagram, etc... should be ok for mass and eternal (well not snapchat) consumption and I am the least of their worries in that space. That is another aspect of privacy this generation needs help with, and some of mine too from some of the FaceBook posts I see, to understand that social medial is not your personal diary. They also have to be taught about the dangers of posting on-line and predators - that makes me queasy just to write but not enough so that I will not address it.
Parenting - tough and always challenging but how I love it and I hope that when my kids grow up and maybe look at a list like I have above they will find much more in the first "what I loved most that my mom did" and very little in the "what my mom did awful" bucket.
Tuesday, February 9, 2016
Last week it was Farah Fawcett's birthday and it got me thinking of my childhood. I loved Charlie's Angels - I mean full on wanted to be her or the Cheryl Ladd character, always vied to be it when my friends and me played it. I wanted her hair, not likely to happen with my particular brand of curls and texture, and at the time my lack of tools and stylists but hey it was awesome hair. For me and those of my generation (sigh) the TV show not the movies will always the one we think of when we hear Charlie's Angels - the movies were entertaining.
I loved Charlie's Angels because contrary to some commentary I have seen I found them my first feminist role models. They were the package deal I wanted to be - they were good looking, well dressed, drove kick ass cars and they took care of themselves, were not always on the hunt for a husband and while Charlie (and that voice "Hello Angels..." still so nice to hear) was their boss really they could 1) hang up on him if they ever got pissed off which they didn't 2) he gave them a case and let them decide how to solve it. What is more empowering than that? Actually the hair was empowering, it was not that straight Marcia Brady hair, it had movement, it had texture and it was different hair for all 3 of them because women are not all alike. They were dressed and undressed and while those hard core (get to them in a bit) feminists derided them they couldn't care less - they were kicking ass. The supporting cast were men - not men they wanted either - Bosley was a nice, safe companion there to ensure they had the funding and coverage to do what they did best. In the same vein I liked the Bionic Woman too - she was Steve Austin's equal.
I wanted to be like that - able to do what I wanted to do, not chasing to be a Mrs unless I was ready for it, not defined by other people's standards of feminism or lack thereof. I applaud Carol Burnett for this too - she appealed to my funny side. She ran the show.
I do not hate men - I actually like them quite a bit, cannot remember a time I did not since I do remember liking them when I was say under 5. I like them but I do not need their permission I need their partnership and support, whether as lovers or friends or family as much as when they have the power to hire or make laws. I need them to see me as an equal and acknowledge that I know what is best for me and when I don't I will own that decision. I need from them what I need from my female friends, unconditional affection and straight talking support.
So as I was writing this and thinking of the Farah hair along come two women who really should be the feminist role models they have fought hard to be - Madeline Albright and Gloria Steinem who decide to tell us as women what I hate hearing from the ultra fundamentalists. That they made a choice for us - that if we do not listen to it and vote for Mrs. Clinton then (Madeline Albright said it folks) there is a "special place in hell" for us. Really?!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! One as an atheist that really means nothing to me and two if I did believe wouldn't that statement alone guarantee her a quick ride if not permanent place to the spot? Really Madeline -- you are telling me that if I make a choice that differs from the one you tell me, you know better than I (based solely on the person's gender) what feminism is? Now Gloria I am not sure what drives you to your political candidates but for me I do not support any politician to meet men - because that implies 1) I do not know the issues 2) my sole guiding principle is Tinder 3) I have not ever chosen a candidate because a man liked him nor did I not vote for one because a man liked him.
We all need to remember democracy is the idea that you choose a leader not based on their ethnicity, race, belief system or lack of one, gender or who they are sleeping with (as long as it is consensual). I am not the "establishment" because I question Bernie's plans but I am part of it and so are all of us who choose to vote that in itself is not a good or bad thing, it is a fact. Stop telling me as a grown woman who I need to choose and rather give me the information on your platform that I will use to make up my own mind.
So to get back to Charlie's Angels, Farah was on for only one season and yet for those of us familiar with the TV show she seems as much of the fabric as those who were there for the many seasons. That is because of her hair that moved, her real life where she said she wanted more pay and chose to leave when it did not happen and because with the other Angels she knew how to handle whatever Charlie or the situation threw at them.
I leave with this "Hello Angels ... we have a situation, we need to ask of our next President how are we going to get on the same page as a nation when we have seen politicians for years using the divide and conquer routine so that we can prosper not for the next 4 to 8 years but for the next 40 years and beyond. Angels you have to vote and ask politicians to answer to you, you do not have to justify your ability to make your choices".
Tuesday, February 2, 2016
Europeans that I know have always been more cynical - compliments are often veiled with notes of how they hope you do not lose/crash/ destroy/get stolen whatever it is that you have. It is a protective way of looking at the world - a world where there were powers that suddenly weren't, where identity is closely tied to your place of birth and where wars have ravaged the land.
Yet the States - land of a new beginning, where you could be whatever you wanted the place to know you as - that came with optimism. I see it in historical writings even up to the turbulent 60's - JFK with his message of "ask not what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country", Dr. King with " I have a dream...". These are the things that made us bounce back - these are not rose colored glasses but based on a common line of sight to be better, to do better for our children. The 60s were turbulent but they used their anger to build, the Nazis were angry they used their anger to justify their anger through killing.
It was mocked by others but I see it in other places, Australia comes to mind. It was in a way what drove others to want to change if for no other reason to just challenge that "we can do this" US attitude. It was cocky and confident. It was patriotic and not negatively nationalistic.
It seems to be gone or be going quickly. I see angry people - lots and lots of angry people. In our quest to make things right with political correctness we have done more to divide than to learn through that process. There are angry people - and angry people are good mostly at being angry. Angry people tend to be good at toppling things but rarely good at building. Try it on your own if you are pissed off and try to build say a lego set - you push and you shove, you don't take the focus to read the directions, you end throwing the pieces all around. Now try it thinking oh shit 275 small pieces, read the directions, look at what you can make, ask for help --- ta da. Simplistic ?? Yes but valid.
Angry people get good media coverage - angry people easily drown out the ones that are not. We see this world wide - people are angry. Many have been wronged, many have had their hope taken away and many see nothing but anger left for them. This is dangerous - this is what drives racism, sexism, fanaticism. We need to figure out how to give people a place for their anger and then a place to take it and make it into a world we can all share.
I see myself getting angry and then I get angry for only being angry - vicious cycle. We have much to be angry about but anger needs to feed our desire to rebuild, recreate not just it's need to exist. It is easier to divide and make us forget that our choice to act united is a powerful force. I have a choice - I can choose whether to turn my anger toward positive. I want to do this because we have some serious issues in the world today and right now they are only being fed anger. This is the problem with so many of the candidates in this presidential race, both sides, they want to feed the division - the anger. That is not going to get us anything but more anger and less for each of us. There is no them - for they are all us. Tell me how you take that righteous indignation and change it to a strategy - not just a blame game.
It is time to listen to one another, to hear the pain in the anger, the fear in that anger and then when we have listened and we have been heard it is time to stop yelling and to quietly work together. We owe it to our children, we owe it to ourselves. It is easier to yell but we are resilient as a world - we can learn to do the hard stuff that comes with whispers and makes us smile.
I love the proverb that I used as an image, my only change is that once in a while much like the wolf you have to howl, growl and remind people that they do not want to give you the meal to let the other wolf out. I am sad and confused on how to help my kids understand how to be kind and to deal with their anger when it seems to be so much more acceptable to just be angry.
Hey angry people - I am choosing not to be angry anymore but instead I am a determined optimist, you can get hoarse from shouting but I will have my soft voice long after that. I choose love.