Parenting in the Age of the Constant Dumpster Fire
My daughter saw my son putting on lip balm the other day and said “boys don’t wear makeup” to which I responded “boys can wear makeup. Anyone can wear makeup!” She was taken aback a bit I think, both at the concept of boys wearing makeup and the certainty of my reaction. I realized immediately I used a little too much “Facebook argument dad-voice” and softened my tone, explaining to them that anyone can wear makeup and someone telling you differently is just jealous they don’t have the confidence to wear it, too. They understood, smiled, and then fought over the Chapstick because they’re kids and they’ll fight over anything.
My snippy attitude, unbeknownst to my darling daughter, came from seeing this video on Facebook earlier that day:
Jake Warden is his name, and at 10 he’s got a knack for makeup that I don’t even have for eating fried food. The reason I got so frustrated on this particular topic is the Facebook link I found this video on was absolutely disgusting. So as not to give the parent who posted it any more traffic, I’ll simply say it was a VERY negative post, asking “how do you handle this as a parent??”
How do you handle what, exactly? That your kid found something they love and are good at? We should all be so lucky.
When the Dumpster Fire Goes Viral
As a parent, seeing these kinds of viral, hatefilled garbage posts on social media makes my skin crawl AND my blood boil, like an old timey witch curse. This goes beyond the stereotypical “jock dad with nerd son” sort of quasi-shame that’s portrayed in coming-of-age comedies. This is parents looking at the habits and choices of random kids online – or worse, their sexual orientation, gender, etc – and publicly shaming them.
Now I wouldn’t give a bucket of beetle shit what some middle-aged chubby screecher thinks about me, but kids do. Kids kill themselves over cyberbullying, or they simply suppress who they are or what they love. If your channel requires the degradation of human beings to garner likes, you might be a dumpster fire.
*Cough* activistmommy dot *cough cough cough*
It’s difficult to raise your head above the waves of negativity and viral hate speech, but you must. More than that, we need to be an example to the younger generations, whether they’re OUR whelplings or not. You might be an aunt or uncle, teacher, or sub shop cashier, but kids watch adults and emulate them. When bullying is being cheered on in a comments section, kids will cheer it on as well. Adults do this, too, but their brains are less pliable than kids’ are.
Don’t Toast Marshmallows Over the Dumpster Fire
Recently, I saw this bit of unexpected vomit online:
This man is a pastor, with several spawnlings. This means he is considered to be a “Christian” AND he is raising kids. I can’t speak to his family tree, but I can assure you those kids hear every hateful, gross word he says. I’m certain his constituents are like-minded, and soon their kids will be voting and replicating this thinking.
Christians aren’t bad, and neither are republicans, at least not because of their beliefs. The problem I have is that when you are a father, or in this case, a pastor (who is like a father to a congregation), you have impressionable ears listening all the time. When you’re in a position of authority like this, you need to double-check that what you’re saying isn’t hot garbage. I have a message to Joshua Feuerstein – implying that anyone deserves sexual assault or harassment for any reason is hot garbage. I don’t recall a parable about the “woman who wore a short skirt and totally deserved it”. Jesus ate with women and men alike 2000 years ago, he was inclusive, especially of the marginalized.
When you say women are “dressed like hookers” and imply they deserve sexual assault or harassment, your kids hear that.
Your daughters hear you suggesting women need to check their dress or behavior to earn your respect. Worse than that, you put the occurrence of sex crimes on their shoulders.
Your sons hear you say that it’s on women to change their behavior to prevent MEN from doing horrific, deplorable shit. You’re giving awful behavior a pass, and worse, you’re blaming the victim.
We Can Do Better
Humans are a goofy species. We lack survival adaptation like claws, fur, fangs, being-Wolverine, etc, but we make up for that with our intellect. That intellect has allowed us to survive for a million years, put us on the moon, created art, and birthed our modern society. Despite ALL of this, dumbass beliefs like racism, sexism, and xenophobia still exist, and it’s because we pass them along to our kids.
Stop it, right now – stop the spread of the dumpster fire. Teach your kids to respect EVERYONE, regardless of their race, creed, gender, orientation, religion, demographic trait, demographic trait, etc.
Don’t applaud online bullies, no matter what your political beliefs are. We can disagree without being hateful, ignorant garbage. I’m guilty of stereotyping in online “discussion”, too, and it helps nobody.
If we all teach our children that advancement, success, and self-improvement never need to come at the expense of others’ self-esteem or livelihood, then we might just save the world.