Saturday, June 7, 2014

On having children and being in an alternative subculture

I think all parents, from all walks of life, especially mothers can relate to this post in some way.  When I became a parent, my child rearing skills were constantly judged and criticised, especially by other mothers. To the whole natural birth vs c-sections/ epidurals, breast vs bottle debate to co-sleeping or not, everyone has an opinion about it. Having children when you dress a certain way can be annoying too and adds a whole new spin on things! Along with the usual challenges parents face on a daily basis, there are questions/comments from people I hear frequently. So far, these are some of the questions I got with regards to being a parent:

You guys dress all in black, how come your kid doesn't dress the same?

Oh so now your kid is wearing darker clothes today, I thought you said you let him pick his clothes?

What will his/hers friends think?

What will your child's friends parents say? or How would you feel if your child told you that his friend's parents won't allow him to play with your child?

You are a parent now, isn't it time you grew up and not dress like that?

How do you think your child's teachers will treat him school?

You both have dark hair, he is so blond!



Source: Facebook, The Addams Family

You guys dress all in black, how come your kid doesn't dress the same?
It's simple: I respect my child's individuality. He is not a mini version of his parents. If he wants to wear color and/or outfits with his favorite cartoon character on them, I have no problem doing so.

 Oh so now your kid is wearing darker clothes today, I thought you said you let him pick his clothes?
I have bought my son some goth brand clothing for children because I think they are cute. He likes it too, which is important. A shirt or two doesn't change my stance on letting him express himself. He picked this outfit today.

What will his/hers friends think?
If they were his friends, I don't think this matters

  What will your child's friends parents say? or How would you feel if your child told you that his friend's parents won't allow him to play with your child? 
While it would hurt me if my son came home and told me this, I think it teaches him a great life lesson. I hope it teaches him not to judge people simply on their appearance. I know it sucks but I don't believe in putting children in a bubble and shield them from everything. When they are old enough to enter the workforce, hell, even certain teachers/peers they will have to deal with all sorts of people.

On the other hand, I feel that being personally involved in my child's life, especially with the daycare. I go out of my way to get to know the other parents and have some sort of rapport with his educators. This helps clear any potential negative premonition they may have.

 When my son talks to me about his friends, I pay attention then I go out of my way to talk to those parents in particular. I am friendly and I tell them how much my son appreciates being their child's friend. I tell them things the daycare or my son tells me: like how their daughter comforted my son when he was upset, for example. In other words, I compliment their kid! I noticed having children is a great way to connect with people you have nothing in common with. People tend to see you less as a freak or weirdo because you have something in common with them.


You are a parent now, isn't it time you grew up and not dress like that?
Yes, I was told this by someone. I find it incredibly rude and insulting.  I felt like being polite and somewhat condescending to this statement was the best way to deal with it:  "oh really, I never saw anything in a handbook that being a parent involves a dress code. How embarrassing! See ya" I walked away before the person could say anything else. Why humour someone in a conversation after making such daft statements? I am still the same person before he was born, why would that change? I still have the same beliefs and values I had before. It is like telling someone "oh because you reached a certain age, you shouldn't like chocolate" or something equally ridiculous.


How do you think your child's teachers will treat him school?
I hope in a professional manner. With my already packed schedule, it is hard to get involved with the daycare but I do as much as I can. My goal is to have a rapport with the educators.  I have had a few headbutts with a certain educators in the past, though. Our more liberal views, especially on self-expression has clashed with her more conservative "we need to conform, be sheep and be normal" outlook. I think ALL parents may face situations like this one at some point, maybe not the same scenario as me but I bet our views will clash with someone eventually because that is the crazy way the world works! I I feel so far not one daycare educator has treated my child differently because his parents dress all in black. 


You both have dark hair, he is so blond!
Yup, I have also gotten this statement several times from strangers. My son is a local attraction whenever we go out because of the chubby cheeks, blond hair, and big blue eyes which people think they have a right to come up and make this remark while complimenting on how cute he is.  I sometimes want to give a snarky response and say he is adopted or that I kidnapped him but I do say the truth: I dye my hair. Sometimes, they will tell me "If I had natural blond hair like that, I wouldn't dye it black"  I thank them for the compliment and their personal opinion. This one annoys me the most. I feel like I shouldn't have to explain myself to people but I think sometimes, they just don't know any better, are trying to be nice and are trying to make conversation with me. I think they mean it more as a compliment than anything. Sometimes I smile and say "genetics, I guess" but then that often leads to more intrusive questions I don't want to answer to strangers.

With all these statements, I feel as if I were to get angry and answer them back in an insulting way would only prove any negative stereotype that they may have. I know I have every right to be angry and to feel insulted with these very intrusive remarks/questions. I feel that two negatives don't make a right. People have a tendency to take things out of context, don't always get sarcasm and I feel like if I am not careful or polite, I could potentially have social services at my door. Thankfully, this has never happened.

Once I am done with these people, usually I get a thank you and remain patient while answering their many questions. Most of the time, they are curious, they "always wanted to speak to someone like you" when they are done asking their same questions.   I do believe what Jillian Venters from Gothic Charm School  has to say about having good manners and being polite, even when some people are just downright rude. I feel it is especially important in situations involving children. Besides, I am teaching my son valuable life lessons in the process.

Any parents out there have has experiences?
 


4 comments:

  1. I'm not a parent, but my mom had to deal with a lot of what you mentioned. My friends parents and teachers would bug her about her appearance...but my mother wasn't diplomatic at all. Probably would have made things easier for both of us, but whatever. Important lessons learned the hard way

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  2. Oh yes. I live in a little town in Indiana. I have to edit myself and censor myself. I have 3 boys and a step daughter. Only one of our children likes the gothy look. I get the judgmental looks mostly. Rarely will anyone actually say anything to my face. It really surprises me how this is still an issue. This lifestyle has been around for decades. You'd think there would be more acceptance by now

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  3. I think it is worse when people don't say anything to your face. Thank you for commenting, I love hearing from fellow goth mummies!

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  4. To be judged for our style is really pitiful. I am a mom too, of a small 5-year-old man. As a goth parent i have to face a kind of "hostility" too. I have to face all the time resentful looks or critics. Even when I am simply in black jeans and t shirt! It is like if for people to be Goth makes us unhable to be good parents. For them we are aberrations. It is sad to live that while we don't hurt anybody! My son knows that his parents are "different" and he is proud of it. ^^ Sometimes I am afraid that our difference harms him. As yours my son wears what he wants to wear, his favorite color is red and it is very well! ^^ I think it's important to let our children be themselves and choose who they want to be.

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