#GamerGate. MRAs. PUAs. Jian Ghomeshi. #ByeFelipe. The 2014 Midterm Elections.
I’ve got a stepson who just turned seven and two kids arriving in May, and this is the environment their mother and I will be raising them in. I suppose it’s better than raising them in Europe during the Dark Ages, but I always kind of imagined that humanity would suck less than this by the time I got around to having kids of my own. Since we still suck, though, how the hell are we supposed to raise kids who don’t?
I’ve always imagined that to be the purpose of parenting: to raise kids who don’t suck. Or at least kids who suck less than you. Like, I hope that my kids come around to feminism before they turn 40. I hope they don’t get caught up in the self-loathing and judgement of fundamentalist religion. I hope they pursue their dreams and passions instead of letting other people talk them into doing “the practical thing.” I hope they learn to be comfortable in their own skins. I hope they learn how to be kind and forgiving and compassionate. Most of all, I hope they learn how to think for themselves.
But how do you teach those things? I know that my example has more of an impact than my words, but is setting a good example enough? What if I say all the right things and set a great example and none of it works?
I know, I know...I’m probably overthinking this, but it’s hard not to. I read the comments of angry men in response to feminist issues, and I wonder how many of them were raised by well-meaning parents who said the right things and set the right examples and still ended up with kids who are shitheads. I feel like I have an advantage in that I’m working in partnership with an incredible person; I’m confident that her influence will bring out the best in them, because I see the effect it’s having on the Monkey. He’s emulating his mother’s best qualities more and more every day, and that gives me hope. And still, I worry.
Also? I just realized that the title I picked for this article could have been misleading, and there’s a possibility that someone might have clicked on it hoping to get advice on how to raise kids who don’t suck. If you happen to be one of those people, I’m sorry. The truth is, I know nothing about how to raise children. I’m not even entirely sure that I know how to change a diaper, let alone how to help a child navigate the emotionally and psychologically hostile world around them. I’m reading a lot of other people’s advice and hoping that at least some of it comes naturally. I mean, there has to be something living in the recesses of my unconscious mind about what to do with a kid, right? I don’t think humanity would have lasted this long if we didn’t get some of our parenting skills instinctually.
So here’s to hoping that a combination of accidentally meeting and falling in love with the right person, some instinctive child-rearing ability, and a healthy dose of dumb luck will help me pull this parenting thing off. And if they turn out to be shitheads anyway? Well, I’m sure I’ll still love them. I’ll just make fun of them and bide my time until I can turn the grandkids against them.
Jerry Kennedy is (in no particular order) a fiance, stepdad, writer, actor, director, singer, and web dude living in The Greatest City In the World, Sacramento, CA. His hobbies include reading, skateboarding, falling off his skateboard, drinking, karaoke (especially after drinking), and making love at midnight in the dunes on the cape. You'll find his irregular ramblings about life, the universe, and everything at http://jerrykennedy.com