27 May 2014

From the cradle

Over the last week I was involved in two conversations with people that said that they don't think it's fair that children are taken along, or feature in photos or campaigns, that represent their parent's beliefs.

The two people involved are chalk and cheese and separated by about 30 years of age.  But they were in full agreement - "Those poor children don't know what they are getting involved in. It's disgusting." (Both times in reference to the children featuring in that very funny video by Elena titled 'These are a few of Tony's favourite fibs" - a Sound of Music parody - do watch it, it's very clever)

But I've been thinking about it - because our children come with us to things that I know both these people don't approve of really - and so there is an element of my choices being criticised, however obliquely.  Which does get one to thinking. Which is never a bad thing.

And I've concluded that they are right.

No.  The children don't know.  But eventually they will.  And that's the point.

Generally, children are being exposed to things that their parents believe in or are passionate about. Right from the cradle.  And that's what parenting is about - guiding our children down roads we think are right for them.

In our case, our children come with us to march in support of marriage equality, human rights, protest poor government choices, and rally in support of asylum seekers and refugees.  I have used their photos online to support #kidslikemine.  They come to cancer fundraising events, miracle baby events, other events for 'causes', watched me run, stuck coins in collection buckets, worn rubber bands on their wrists and once, even got to meet Peppa Pig.

Why?  Because my kids are born lucky and I also think it's important for them to see us actively supporting issues we care about.  Change doesn't happen through apathy and I don't want my girls growing up thinking that life is awesome for everybody.  If people don't care, actively care, nothing changes.

And that is something both their father and I agree on wholeheartedly.  

See.  Told you. 
Others take them to the football and indoctrinate them with a fervent and inexplicable passion for (searches brain for suitable reference), Collingwood.  And people spend thousands over a lifetime on jerseys and memberships and scarves and hats and things.  Parents feel physically gutted if their child changes allegiance as they grow older.  Let alone changing codes.  Grown men cry over football.  Completely inexplicably to me - football matters.

I know it's a touchy one folks, but religion - including atheism.  Generally we get them christened, communed and confirmed, bar mitzvahed, hijabed, pledged, etcetera, all before adulthood. It's not right, it's not wrong.  It's an example of parents demonstrating their beliefs and passions to their children because they believe it is the right thing to do and they believe it will benefit their child in a lot of awesome ways.

Politics.  People line up for hours to have their babies kissed by politicians.  Those babies don't know any better.  Does being kissed by Tony Abbott preclude you from growing up some kind of bolshie leftie?  Who knows?  But still, while we might think "Ew, poor mite being kissed by Tony", we're not thinking "What terrible parents."  Because they're not.

Because generally people are doing the things that they believe are best for their children.  Yes it means that some people are brought up being complete arses, who are so proud of being arses they will bring their hating to every conversation on every public forum in the world (looking at you my dear bigoted Mr Heinrich Schmidt and the completely cray cray Conchita of Canberra).

I can do everything I can to bring my children up the way I think is right, but eventually, they're going to use their bright minds and the influences of the world around them to make their own decisions.

You know something, they might even turn into people that follow football.  And I'll still love them.  Probably.

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