philosophy at age eight

“If you cannot control your peanut butter, you cannot expect to control your life.”
~ Judah-ism

Saturday, October 8, 2011

teaching past "gender"

Son, on how he can have babies~ Age 7
"Okay, I'm half you and half dad. And when an adult male sexes with an adult female, then the baby's half me and half her."

Simple. Too simple.

Crafting the perfect pregnant woman
shell for her brother
I dreamed about how life would be between myself and my child when I was pregnant, but it was the first time I caught myself saying or doing the things I hated most as a child that I had to sit down and truly consider what sort of parent I wanted to be. No, what kind of child I wanted to raise, rather. Left in passive mode, I realized that I would simply become my mother, with a lot of my father mixed in for good measure. Was this what I wanted?

To understand what my children are thinking and feeling, as completely different people than I, I can only compare what they’re experiencing to my own childhood and try to analyze whether I think my own experience on such subject created positive, or negative, responses to this day in myself. But in this method there is a flaw, which is that in parenting reactively to my own upbringing–and trying to be the opposite on issues that I feel affected my own upbringing negatively–I still don't address what made me grow up inclined to be the "opposite" of what my parents wanted for me.

The quandary comes into play in trying to find the balance between raising a daughter who knows without a doubt her own worth–by reiterating this point in as many ways possible–and raising a daughter who then sets out to be as different from you as she can. What’s making the point, and then what’s belaboring the point? When I think back, I realize most of my unconscious social construction was taught by example, rather than words, while the conscious construction is always under construction, thank you very much.

Words are dismissible. Learned behavior is much, much harder to shed.

“Did I put too much love in that hug?” 
Son, after finally releasing me from a long hug that included hanging on me and sound-effects ~ Age 7

Johnny is dungeon master for the kids
and their cousins
I eventually had a daughter, and a son. And it took time for me, years actually, to be able to set off the idea that I was a bad human being for behaving as though my own needs were equally important as my family’s needs. But to raise a daughter who has no question of her own worth, I decided that I must be an example of it. As a woman who constantly struggles to believe in her own worth, this is the role of a lifetime. It began with trying to weed out my own destructive behaviors and self-hating thought processes, so that I wouldn’t unknowingly pass them on to her, or my son.

I despair sometimes, thinking about how partially effective I may be:  does that mean my daughter will only partially believe in her own worth, and should she succeed in instilling in her daughter a little more self-worth than she has, then can I expect to have a great-granddaughter or two who truly believe in their own inherent self-worth? I want to succeed in this so badly:  the thought of my own daughter struggling as I do infuriates me. Because I believe it would be a personal failure should I not be a true reflection of her awesome little self. When she looks in my eyes, I want her to see complete belief and acceptance, and I fear that with all the personal issues I struggle with, that what she sees reflected is instead my own doubt.

Example is damned hard to fake.

John, amused: “Get some pants or shorts on, boy.”  
Son: “Why?”  
John: “Well, you don’t have to if you don’t want to.”  
Son, in complete seriousness: “I like my body.” ~ Age 6

Son rather impatiently suffering
to be dressed as a girl by
his sister.
The topknot really
didn't impress him.
Raising a son is an equal quandary:  less example, and more words. My partner works closely with me to be his example, but I find that as his mother, for the most part, I am here to challenge him when he appears to accept without question all the world wants to lay at his feet.

All I can do is challenge his assumptions, and encourage him to actually think about what he’s saying, and attempt to justify it. Can he, or is he just aping something he’s seen? Between John and my needling that he not accept everything he hears blindly but that he must be able to identify justification, and John's atypical social example as a man who stays home with the children while I work outside the home, we hope to see him and his sister develop into people who thinks for themselves.

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