Monthly Archives: November 2015

Don’t Be Scared: Raising Kids in a Fear Obsessed Culture

scared-of-computer

The last few weeks seem to have people more on edge than usual. I’m sure this is a combination of the horrible events in France, Mali, and Nigeria and a media that is obsessed with atrocity. I usually try to stay away from anything too politically charged on here, but I need to talk about this trend I am seeing all too much of on social media, and unfortunately in casual conversation. Lately, people are looking for groups of people to fear with little to no provocation (the entire republican presidential primary has been dominated by it). This is a dangerous direction for us as a population.

First, I know that fearing what we don’t know or understand is hardly a new human phenomena, and I also understand that we will always have a level of racism and bigotry in our society. Some people would rather just hate, and we can’t fix them. All we can do is make them the outcasts. My issue is the current willingness of otherwise intelligent and generally moderate people to default to the position of fear seems to be growing. Whether it is Islamophobia, homophobia, racism, sexism, etc. the idea that one group of people needs to be feared due to the actions of a few is a breeding ground for disaster.

Now this is a blog about parenting, so let me frame this in the light of how we bring up our children. Teaching your children to fear what they do not understand as opposed to learning about it is raising the risk of sentencing them to a life of seclusion, ignorance, and hate. As parents we have an obligation to our children to help them explore our world and its people. The “gated community” mentality will not suffice in modern times. Your children will reach out to the world and find people, they need your guidance so the people they find are positive influences. Send them off with the idea that Muslims are going to hurt them or black teenagers are criminals, and I promise they will find awful people looking to lure them into embracing those ideals. Luckily the inverse is equally true. Give them an open mind, and they will find wonderful people from every possible background who will enhance their lives.
The argument I keep seeing is safety and/or protection in regard to our children and communities. This is simply an illegitimate reason, and often just used to justify the thinly-veiled bigotry. Of course we want our kids to be safe. I don’t know many topics that all decent parents would agree on, but I am sure that the safety of their children is on the top of that list. With that in mind, teaching your children to fear large groups of people does not make them safer. What we can do is teach our children to be wary of situations around them, and judge individuals as individuals. Then they can assess whether or not a situation is a safe one to be in. This is a far more valuable skill than blocking off large portions of humanity.
As we have seen time and time again, we cannot rely on media to help with this lesson. Different groups are simply not portrayed equally in American media. This is your job as a parent. You need to explain to your kids that people of all types are good or bad, this is determined by their own character and nothing else. Make no mistake, they hear how you talk about everyone around you, and they will shape their world in a similar way. Teach them to question what they see or hear and form their own well thought out views and opinions. That’s the best way to equip them for the future.

So, I offer this, instead of looking for reasons to fear what is different, I encourage you to look for ways to appreciate it. Next time you see a story of a horrible extremist of any kind doing something terrible, search for a positive story. Show your children (and yourself) all the good in the world. Just as evil is not limited by race, culture, or religion; neither is good. So find the good, and instead of being afraid of the monsters, try to be inspired by the humanity.

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4 Things That Parents do That Drive Non-Parents Crazy (and Why We Do Them)

OK, let’s clear the air. Non-parents, I know you find us parents insufferable sometimes, and to be fair, I’m sure we are. However, we generally aren’t trying to be impossible to spend time with. We just are a little oblivious since most of our day is split between work and trying to select the right color bowl for our child (a choice that has consequences on par with Indiana Jones trying to select the right cup at the end of Last Crusade). With that in mind, I just wanted to explain why we do some of the more aggravating things that we do. So here it is…
4 Things That Parents do That Drive Non-Parents Crazy (and Why We Do Them)
4) We Never Go To Social Events
I wrote a whole article about this (Here). However, to summarize, it is not that we don’t want to be part of your event. It’s just really difficult to make it to most social occasions. We have to be willing to leave our kid after a long work week, find childcare, and find the last shred of energy in our body if we want to leave the house after 6 PM.
I will offer this though. If you tell us that something is important to be at, we will make a legitimate attempt to attend. We do care about you, and we do want to be there for important events… just don’t expect me to be at Free Fish Friday’s at O’Malley’s Pub.
3) Talk About “Parent Only” Topics
I try to somewhat avoid doing this in groups with a lot of non-parents, but I fail miserably. Here is the problem… I only know about parenting stuff at this point. I do not party, and I keep only a fleeting grip on pop culture and/or sports. My life is consumed by things like “What is the best kindergarten for an art obsessed hippie-kid?” or “How do you get apple juice out of Shih-tzu hair?”
As my daughter has gotten a little older, I have definitely been able to get back into my hobbies more. This allows me to carry-on at least 6-8 minutes of real adult conversation. It’s great to be doing and talking about things I enjoy again outside of parenting, but this is a pretty new development. So non-parents, if the parents in question have a child under two, they aren’t intentionally leaving you out of conversation… they just have no idea what to talk if it isn’t a diaper genie.
2) Post Too Many Pictures on Social Media
I admit I post a lot of pictures of my kid (I even this out by posting no food or meme pics), and I also admit that some people probably overdo it. I try to avoid my daughter being the only thing people see anytime my name pops up on their Facebook, but there are three main reasons I post a lot of pictures…
First, posting pictures is about the best way for me not to lose them. I am not a super-organized person (basically, I call it a win if I know where my pants are at any given time), and I will lose things that I do not save. Modern technology is a gift when it comes to instantly saving something, and post
ing is one of the really easy ways to do this.
Second, most people have family that are not close by. Posting on a mass social media sites is a nice way to let them see pics of your kids since they don’t get to see them in person very often. I’d rather post one pic than text or email several people.
Third, my kiddo is awesome, and you guys need to see this awesome thing she did. All kidding aside, my daughter is by far and away the best part of my life, and I want to share the best parts of my life with people I care about. So I’m sorry that I care about you that much (repeat this to yourself in a Jewish Grandmother voice whenever you are annoyed by a kid pic, and enjoy the ride on the guilt trip train).
1) Complain About Parenting
If I haven’t made it abundantly clear, I absolutely love being a dad. My daughter makes me the happiest person in the world, and I wouldn’t trade being a dad for anything. With that being said, parenting is really difficult. It’s like having a full time job on top of having a full time job, only instead of being paid it is exuberantly expensive.
So sometimes, parents vent. To non-parents, I’m sure this can be annoying. We made the choice to be parents, so I can see complaining about it being frustrating to our friends without kids. Give us a minute and we will probably get it out of our system.
Just remember, as soon as we leave the room, you can vent about us to everyone else.