Archive for October, 2012

There is nothing to gain by denying good parents the right to enjoy activities in adult spheres. As a girl, my mother used to joke that we were going out “to paint the town red” when she and my stepdad would take me out for dinner and a promenade stroll on a Saturday evening. It was important for me to be there as it gave me an opportunity to bond with both of them on their turf; it eliminated the feeling that they had a secret adult world. Of course, I wasn’t invited with them on romantic getaways, and that made me feel isolated enough. From the perspective of a child from a non-traditional family, those opportunities to share with my parents was the saving grace from resentment and isolation.

Consider also that every “child” isn’t bound to childish behavior. I, for example, was a mini-grownup through and through. I was so responsible that I was entrusted to babysit neighborhood children for pay at only ten. And I could whip up a spaghetti dinner that would’ve made you want to peek in the kitchen to see if a kid really had prepped it. I was all about culinary presentation and healthy ingredients, the whole nine. Many introverted children, like I was, have no problem sitting down and behaving appropriately while using proper etiquette.

Parenting styles vary, and some are strict disciplinarians whose children will comply when in their parents’ presence. You may have already guessed that this was the case with me (though my mom could be very relaxed and personable, too, at times.) I was taught that “children should be seen and not heard.” While I don’t subscribe to such a belittling dogma, I am certain that most kids from authoritarian households won’t be running amok; in fact, you may not even hear them at all.

Finally, children deserve opportunities to learn so that they can mature into functional and civil adults. Two birthdays ago, I dressed my then three-year-old up and took her as my “date” to Castaway, considered a 5-star restaurant. Yes, we ordered the lobster. And, yes, I taught her the proper way to eat surf-n-turf. Yes, I told her that–one day–she would grow up to go on dates at restaurants like Castaway.

Not only do I want my daughter to know correct social form, I want her to develop a level of expectations for herself and from her environment. I don’t take my kid to Sizzler or Hometown Buffet because I don’t dine at those places, nor do I want the concept of the almighty greasespoon to be her norm. Whether people like the truth or not, the fact is that American society is deeply stratified by social status. When a young man asks a lady (key word: lady) on a date, he usually considers her upbringing and tastes. Fast food boys chase fast food girls; it’s in their budget and ethos.

Before you take me to task, note that I emphasize ethos, too. Coming from a mostly vegetarian (I took up meat later, then dropped it again) and organic home, I have certain expectations in a partner’s approach to food. Many a marital fight was caused by my unequal yoking with someone (ex) who didn’t value my food ideals. I already see how my daughter has adopted the Whole Foods lifestyle. When someone offers her something, she asks, “Is that organic?” Now seriously, what could I possibly give this girl from McDonalds or one of those other meat-and-fry holes that people call “family friendly”? Why would I *want* to give my child a helping of heart disease and obesity anyway? When vegan and/or organic child-centered restaurants open chains across the country, I’ll gladly revise the last paragraph of my post.


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