Saturday, January 31, 2015

Rebels With a Cause...

Because I said so...

Did I really just say that?

Are my demands for compliance without question really the goal of parenthood? Am I raising another brick in the wall; another round peg for every round hole? Does trying to do so more often than not result in a rebel without a cause?

More importantly, are the actions I take... the "ought to's" of parenting effective? What measure do I use?  At what point do I measure that outcome? Is a 2 year old who says please and thank you the goal? Or am I shooting for a 26 year old who can feed and clothe himself while not ending up in prison?

Maybe I'm trying to raise a better parent than I am.

Perhaps, it's not so important they listen to me (or anyone) without question and it's more crucial they be independent and comfortable going against the flow.

I've seen the the white water rapids of a group of teenagers pulling everyone along toward a waterfall and hidden dangers. I've rolled down that river myself. Learning to take a few strokes against the current of social rules and peer pressure is probably a valuable skill for a child learn... so how do we teach it?

It is difficult to remember the world view we present our children is not just in the words and lessons we teach with purpose, but in the guidance we offer through our actions (often inadvertantly). Will my desire to be unquestioned expand their horizons and their potential, or limit their ideas and confine their goals? Am I willing to answer that question?

What about the other people they come across? When a person tells my daughter this activity is for boys or tells my son those toys are for girls I want them to question the assertion. When someone offers a ride to an underage keg party and it seems everyone is going, I want them to decide for themselves if that is a good choice, because I won't be there.

I am the parent and I hold some authority, there is no avoiding the arrangement, but I don't have to squech their desires to know the "why's" and the "how comes." I don't have to silence their objections. It's not my goal to raise subserviant children, I want them to grow up to be capable, introspective and independent adults.

Being "like everyone else" may be easier in some ways for children and doing what they're told everytime certainly would make parenting a more pleasant endeavor. On the other hand, we should not forget to rejoice in the rebels and the rabble-rousers. I don't want to raise a rebel without a cause, but I do hope to raise discerning, skeptical children who see much cause in this world to rebel against.

Here's to you Link and J Bean, may you break all the rules (well, some of the rules) and challenge the status quo, may you not always take the easy way out, may you sometimes make other's uncomfortable with your individuality and may we always remember that you are the rebels with a cause we raised.

I want to keep you from harm, so my rules and your ideas of freedom will often clash, but I want you to know that somewhere behind my inevitable scolding and angry face is a jagged bit of pride stuck in my throat.


  1. Been going through this with our eldest. Everything we ask is met with a "no" as an automatic first response and every assertion we make leads to an argument. It's fucking annoying. I'm okay with questions, but I hate when she thinks she knows something that she so clearly doesn't. I want her to learn now (and rebel later).

  2. Great post. I've had the same questions when answering or instructing my four year old. On one side I want her to know when to question even me. On the other there are times when I'd just like her to stop playing on the damn stairs.

  3. Exaclty. It's a fine line. Thanks for reading!

  4. I know the feeling!

  5. Love this. Mine are teenagers (and 21, how?) now but they have always been taught to respect authority but not mindlessly obey. Unfortunately we live in a world where sometimes people in positions of authority do not have our kids best interest at heart, and it is very important that our kids know that they have the ability to question authority when they feel that something is wrong.

    Also unfortunately that means allowing kids to question us a parents sometimes and being willing to explain the why of things that seem obvious to us as parents. How will they learn if they don't try it out?

  6. Great post. We talked a little bit about this on our blog a while back.. "Things we say to our kids (and shouldn't)".

    In my opinion there is a point where the "because I said so" has to be the reaponse.. But as they grow we need to teach them wisdom is the "why". Most of the why I have found is varying methods of explaining why something isn't safe or what the implications are when they are older.

    Love the post.