I unfolded the washcloth and placed it on my head. Turning towards my son, I handed him a clean washcloth. He took it and then placed it on his head before smiling a huge smile.
Let’s face it, kids are impressionable. They are taught to emulate us from birth. There is no level up where kids suddenly discover communication or walking. They learn these things, over time, from watching their parents.
Now, I use a moment between my son and a washcloth to explain in the most stripped down way classical conditioning. Classical conditioning is a psychology term I learned in my brief stint as a college student. Basically, actions and behaviors are learned reactions.
It is getting a little mumble jumbled in here and my head hurts. What I am saying is the overused cliché “Do as I say not as I do” is crap.
When child rearing we have to be not just cautious, but overly cautious of what traits and behaviors we are passing on to our children. This moves past physical actions into the realm of ideas, thoughts and beliefs we might inadvertently impress upon our children.
What? What I do in my day-to-day my child is watching and may try to emulate?
Yes. Exactly. Children are perceptive little fuckers, aren’t they? Just when you think they weren’t listening to you, they repeat the time you said, “Auntie is a bitch!” at a brunch with said bitch aunt.
In the moment it is mortifying and we kick ourselves. Later, after retelling the tale to friends and family we can laugh, right?
Well, I suppose.
The problem isn’t with the washcloth on the head or embarrassing mom and dad by calling Auntie a bitch to her face. The problem is what else our kids are learning from us. It is them learning our insecurities, our flaws, our reactions to adversity, our opinions on others; that is the scary part.
Hatred and bigotry are instilled. No one is born hating someone simply because of different skin color or lifestyles. The first place these judgements are learned? Within the home.
The other day, after being called homophobic, I did what anyone would do. I blasted Elton John and called every gay friend I could think of to make sure we were cool and to let them know that their same-sex lifestyle was totally cool in the eyes of this heterosexual.
That is a joke, obviously I don’t have gay friends. Another joke, relax!
What it did was cause me to reflect on my actions and the way I go about saying things or doing things, on the off-chance that my kids might perceive something said or done jokingly as serious.
Just as walking and talking are taught, so are hatred and bigotry. We have to, as responsible and reasonable adults, raise our children to be understanding and loving.
So many people feel accomplished not swearing around their children. They should feel accomplished, but at the same time, that’s not where we should stop.
Do you have to accept things like same-sex marriage? Yeah, sorry, but you do. You don’t have to agree with it. Agreeing and accepting are two TOTALLY different things. I accept the rules I have at work, I don’t agree with them (we should be able to wear headphones, just saying). You have to accept though.
Before going on, I was called homophobic BEFORE same-sex marriage became nationwide. I personally fully support it and think it is long overdue. I have a sexy Latina wife, while I am not Latino. Did you know there was a time when the bible was used as basis against interracial relationships?
When beliefs are rooted in hatred or, worse, bigotry then we have to take a step back and see if it is something we want to pass on to our offspring. My wife said something wonderful the other day:
“The past few days events remind me a lot of the desegregation of our country. Many people opposed and spread hate. The legalization of same-sex marriage appalls many, [and is] accepted by some. Our children will see this as normal one day, our grandchildren will study this moment in history, shake their (sic) heads, and will wonder what the big deal was.”
It is clear we live in an ever progressive age, which should be praised by all. If we can create a world where everyone loves and accepts one another than have we not succeeded as parents? I don’t want my children to live in fear or judgement, do you want yours to?
It comes down to us and what we are teaching our children. Purposely or accidentally.
So I sit here with washcloth still on my head, asking my fellow parents not to agree with everything they see, but to accept the things that are for the better of the world. The spread of love is always a victory. Spread love and acceptance. Teach understanding.*
*If the world bursts into a fiery inferno filled with homosexual orgies, then disregard my advice. I think we will be safe though.
Now, before I even publish this I know there will just be that one fucking person out there that tries to spin some sort of way to make it seem like being a homosexual is learned too. Dude or Lady Dude, I didn’t learn to like women it just fucking happened. Same thing goes for homosexuality, it just fucking happens.