Monday, May 20, 2013

Teaching a Bird to Fly

Jason and I were talking last night about our future child, and wondering how she will be exposed to bullying and crap that we went through as kids. We were talking about how we want her to be confident, to stand up for herself as well as others, and to be kind and caring. This lead to our discussion of outlets for emotional stresses, and creative exploration. Jason said that he thinks Kung Fu is an important activity, as he's practiced Kung Fu and got a lot out of it. He also worked on cars, liked building and taking things apart and building them again (electronics etc) and liked going to Punk shows. I grew up with the arts (singing, dancing, playing music, theater, etc), and took horseback riding, read as much as I could, and also made beaded jewelry. I feel like those were great outlets for me. Doing something you are good at, and enjoy doing as a kid, I think helps build up confidence ("I'm good at this!"), self-assurance ("Look what I can DO!"), and gives them a social outlet ("I have friends with my same interests!") and allows a release from stresses and worries- in a constructive, positive way.

Talking about our own likes and interests, lead us to wonder if she will be a girl who wants to be a princess, and a cheerleader, or a girl that will want a mohawk and listen to Dead Kennedys. There's really no way of us to control who she wants to be, and why would we want to? Sure she may have some interests that neither of us were interested in, but that's how I think you learn and grow from being a parent. In being a great parent, I think that you have to put aside your own ideas and dreams for your kids (to an extent) and trust them to know what their interests are and let them explore them for themselves. It sounds obvious, but I feel like a lot of people grow up with pressures to do what their parents want them to do, rather than make their own choices. I feel so grateful that my parents encouraged me to explore my self expression (even when they didn't want me dying my hair pink at 12, or start getting pierced and tattooed at 18 - but they let me make my own choices). They trusted me in who I am, and regardless of their own interests trusted that I have always been a kind and caring person - which I believe is the most important - above all else.

Of course I'm not talking about destructive activities that I'm not interested in, or doing things that harm herself or others (by the way no tattoos or piercings for my daughter until she's 18 either! if that's still happening when she's that age). Loving arts (martial arts included), I would hope that my baby would share in some of our interests, and ideals or even push them further. But who knows? Maybe she will be more interested in religion, or maybe the Sciences, or who knows, maybe living in Texas she will want to hunt and learn taxidermy. I think trying to force my beliefs on my child is totally oppressive, and I hope that she would feel strong and confident enough with herself to make her own decisions and follow the path that her heart sings to. All I can do is show her what I know, and give her the resources to learn and make up her own mind (but please gods and goddesses don't give me a baby who wants to hunt and stuff animals!).

I think that being a parent is about supporting your child's best interests, even if they aren't totally aligned with my own. So will I be buying her non-vegan food if she wants it? No. Just like me, growing up in a house (two or three houses actually) full of non-vegetarians, I had to move out and start buying my own food so I could finally become vegan once I turned 18. Before that I always had plenty of food on all of the tables I ate at, and I plan to do the same for my kids - with vegan foods only. My parents supported my choices as a young vegetarian, but they didn't go out of their way to accommodate me being different from all of them, and I think that's helped me build my strong sense of morality, and personal self-awareness - but also my ability- from a young age- to make my own choices, which I appreciate so much.

Its fun to wonder what she's going to be like as she develops her own personality and character. Lucky for me, while she's a baby I will get to dress her! And I definitely see a mandatory Ramones onesie in her future, as well as a few, "Lettuce Turnip the Beet!" and "Vegan" ones. I can't wait to meet her. <3

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