Monday, September 8, 2008

Dad Stuff - Lesson #112: "Explaining Seemingly Difficult Things To Children"

I always like to start off any essay about my kids or kids in general by making a blanket statement to those people who hate kids, and believe life is a never ending World of Warcraft weekend with Old Milwaukee and Red Bull… You are a sad pile of self-loathing and your complaints are embarrassing to humanity.

One of he myriad of issues parents have with children is the explanation of the world around them. The schools and PSA's focus on drug talk, smoking and safe sex. What about all those other topics for which there is no administration-approved pamphlet? Some find homosexuality tough to explain. Then there is religion: what is it, who worships what and when, and of course: Why the hell aren't we going to church? Divisive political issues pop up now and then and my kids are insanely inquisitive and want to know what everything means and where I fall on each subject. Gone are the days of asking the kids at school about it the next day. They don't have to. With an internet connection that can have their answer quicker than you ever dreamed of.

(When I was 12, I looked in the school library to find out what a lesbian was. Boy, was I off.)

TV is a bastard. However, if you are mature enough to handle the questions when they come, there is no need for a discussion. The Simpsons was the first place my boys heard about what it meant to be gay. (I'm quite sure it was a Waylon Smithers scene.) One of them turned to me, about seven or eight years old, and asked: "Dad, what is 'gay'?"

I curled my lip for a sec and it hit me. I said two whole sentences. "You know how boys like girls and girls like boys? Well, sometimes girls like girls and boys like boys."

They gave me an "okay" and together we watcher Homer get hit in the nuts.

Not even twenty words out of my mouth and I settled it once and for all. I'm sure there are religious freaks out there who need to add several paragraphs to that; but you would never read anything I wrote anyway, so who cares. The point is, just be honest, concise and brief as possible.

Children are perceptive and smarter than you think-- at any given age. They may not know what to do with the info, but it is on a shelf in their smooth little brains, waiting to spring forth at an inopportune moment. That's their job.

I am like a lot of parents out there. I don't want my kids to be mindless robots who cannot think or act for themselves. I want to make an impact on these guys but shoving my opinions in their faces really isn’t part of the deal. Your opinions, (brace for this blogging world) are not important at all…to anyone at all. They are part of the bubbling gumbo that is your belief system. For most of us, it does enough exploding on its own and parents waste a lot of calories trying to infuse their likes and preferences on an impressionable mind.

But your kids get your opinions anyway. Remember when I said those little punks are perceptive?

And there are a few things you want them to have, right? I want my kids to be accepting and fair and decent and all that happy crap. If they turn out to be jerks, I really dropped the ball somewhere.

Handling this is trickier because you have to listen more closely. If your kid is trying to ingratiate himself by being your yes man, it is time to step back and clarify. Just learn to bite your lip sometimes. It will help everyone's sanity and counseling bills in the long run.

"By all means, put ketchup on your hot dog. I'm not really into it."
"Son, when I said Republicans are mindless retards, I was making a huge generalization. They are people just like you and me. I just disagree with nearly everything they believe in."
"You can like Dane Cook if he makes you laugh. I just haven't met anyone that has happened to."

Okay, that last one went a little too far. I'd never let that happen.

1 comment:

  1. "Your opinions, (brace for this blogging world) are not important at all."

    Except me, right?

    Good parenting advice. Though I'll never be a parent. And not because I hate kids. I'm just indifferent to them is all.