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December 29, 2010 2:16 AM   Subscribe


 
I enjoy reading about uncommon parenting styles, and this looked like a fun link, but I can't help but feel sad after reading it.

The young woman's quirky, upbeat delivery notwithstanding, her childhood sounds as though it was lonely and chaotic, and that her needs were inconvenient for her mother's desired lifestyle.

I was particularly disturbed by:

"Children are crazy, egotistical creatures. As someone who's just come from this developmental phase, children don't understand (or really don't care) that they're interrupting your conversation because they're exhausted and cold, and they expect or need you to do something about it. When it comes down to it, you are both a mother and an individual, but the difference is that while you may be fighting in your eyes to preserve yourself as a person, your child has yet to even develop a self: they are reliant on you to explain and show them the world. So be patient with their neediness. Eventually, they'll bounce off again to play or fall asleep. Either way, you can get back to your conversation once the tyke has mellowed out and gotten their share of mama-love."

Sorry, but no parent worth his/her salt needs a 17 year old to explain that sometimes a child's needs have to come before a parent's wants. That's bare-minimum parenting right there. I wonder what happened in her life to prompt that kind of advice to would-be "alternative" parents. Sad, sad, sad.
posted by jingzuo at 3:17 AM on December 29, 2010 [12 favorites]


It's really hard to judge this fairly. There is a voice in my mind that says it's ridiculous for a 17-year old kid to be giving advice on parenting. There is another voice that says that this might all be well for a certain type of kid, but absolutely devastating for another. Then a more upbeat voice rushes to her defense, pointing out it is great that she turned out so well-adjusted and articulate. But there's also a grim voice saying that the articulateness is fake: nothing more than the balanced, well-adjusted tone of voice of somebody who has no perspective whatsoever. And then there is more voices and I don't know what to think, and it ends up with me and my voices wringing our hands, whispering "For the love of God, child, please be careful"
posted by eeeeeez at 4:14 AM on December 29, 2010 [5 favorites]


tl;dr: 17-year-old former "kidlet" gives parenting advice to neo-hippie "psychofunkodiscodelic" types worried their children will get in the way of summer festival attendance. Nights falling asleep in her tent-crib with "babymama's" "lover" creeping around outside listening to Fishbone conditioned her to later not reject but embrace the intellectually flaccid but typically harmless "offbeat" lifestyle her mother deemed at least marginally more important than her. And she's considering studying journalism in college.
posted by HerArchitectLover at 4:54 AM on December 29, 2010 [9 favorites]


The language in this was so over-the-top California hippy it became physically painful to read...
posted by Dysk at 5:01 AM on December 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


This is not best of the web and just invites point-and-laugh at a kid/let's grind our parenting style axes. There are good discussions to be held about offbeat parenting, but I doubt they'll happen as a result of this very thin, context-free post. Sorry, knigel (otoh, thanks for the link to Offbeat Mama).
posted by MonkeyToes at 5:09 AM on December 29, 2010


And there truly are some axes to grind in this discussion. I worry about the children of the people snarking on the article. What soulless unfun people.

I enjoyed the article (tone's a bit off but I'm a 40-year old male...hrumph) but links to related topics, counterpoints or whatever would've made a better post.
posted by melt away at 5:27 AM on December 29, 2010 [7 favorites]


I don't want to smoke pot (not a moral thing, I'm just not very good at it) or take my kid to Burning Man* but I don't have a problem with other people doing it and she seems like a nice kid who's got her head on straight enough to complete a blog post on the topic.

Nor do I want to go to Burning Man myself because get off my lawn. I can't even handle a hotel room if it doesn't have a coffee maker.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 5:44 AM on December 29, 2010 [9 favorites]


Also I'm making a sincere and lifelong effort to not judge the parenting of others unless there's something genuinely wrong it -- not just that they have a different philosophy or were raised differently or read a different book. They have to be doing something demonstrably damaging to get me going.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 5:46 AM on December 29, 2010 [6 favorites]


Sorry, but no parent worth his/her salt needs a 17 year old to explain that sometimes a child's needs have to come before a parent's wants. That's bare-minimum parenting right there. I wonder what happened in her life to prompt that kind of advice to would-be "alternative" parents. Sad, sad, sad.

I think that this advice is relevant to parents across the board--particularly the most rigid rather than the most "psychofunkodiscodelic." A couple of generations ago, the prevailing thought was that children were to be seen and not heard and that if the kid isn't bleeding, s/he should not interrupt Mommy's Bridge Club. This almost-former kidlet probably had more patience from her mom than kids raised in more traditional homes.

Perhaps I've read this article differently than the previous posters who seem to think that every piece of "advice" the writer gives is a critique on her upbringing. I read it more as an essay on what her mom did right.

But there's also a grim voice saying that the articulateness is fake: nothing more than the balanced, well-adjusted tone of voice of somebody who has no perspective whatsoever.

In other words, it was written by a seventeen-year-old?
posted by leftcoastbob at 5:52 AM on December 29, 2010 [29 favorites]


I now hate the word "offbeat".
posted by sourwookie at 6:11 AM on December 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


Having all those goddamned kids around ruined Burning Man. That and the yuppies.
posted by nevercalm at 6:29 AM on December 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


From the article:

As a now seventeen year old, on the cusp of adult life, liberty, and the freedom to pay taxes or be tried as an adult, I will say that having an alternative upbringing is equal parts a blessing and a curse ... but definitely very educational.

Change "having an alternative upbringing" to "having a conventional upbringing" and this statement speaks for me. I mean, how could growing up not be educational?

But what do you expect from a 17 year old?

And that's what strikes me most about the article: just how familiar her tone of voice is. The kid's a kid, and seems pretty stable at that, regardless of what weird stuff went down around while she was growing up. Her mom loved her, she had friends, she felt more or less secure.

Of course, if there was ever a time in my life that I didn't "know myself", it was when I was a late teen. I look forward to some kind of follow-up to this when she's say, twenty-five.
posted by philip-random at 6:41 AM on December 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


...intellectually flaccid but typically harmless "offbeat" lifestyle...

Oh please. That's more eye-roll inducing than anything I read in the article.
posted by hermitosis at 6:54 AM on December 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


Tangential: Having all those goddamned kids around ruined Burning Man. That and the yuppies.

I thought it was having to deal with a growing organization which needed some rules to offset the chaos that the government couldn't ignore anymore which "ruined" Burning Man.

I think I rather liked the article, even if I'm not a psychadelicfunkolicious like the other people in the article or for whom that blog is being written. You could take some of what Jade wrote and apply it to raising geeklings and attending anime or comics conventions or being a SCAdian and bringing kids to Renaissance Faires, etc. In fact, I desperately want the gal who designed the logo for my website to also chime in more on what it's like for her and her husband who are geeks to raise a kid in a geek household...

...except she's too busy parenting to write for me. /chagrin

Other blogs in this line of thought:

Wired's GeekDad, which I am pleased to note includes articles by female person Corrina Lawson, with whom I wrote at Sequential Tart.
Gaming with Children
Milkbreath and Me, by writer and comics creator Rachel Hartman (Return of the Mad Bun)
posted by TrishaLynn at 7:06 AM on December 29, 2010 [4 favorites]


I totally went into that expecting to hate it (based largely on the framing) but it all seemed pretty reasonable to me. Although the lifestyle in general is not the one I would pick for me or for my kids, it seems like this "how to" is based more on all the ways her mother supported her and the positive things she did rather than a bitter view of what her mom should have done better. It seems like it basically comes down to "Parent your kids but don't overparent your kids" and part of that is making sure that you are still a complete, functional person on your own as well as making sure that the kids have what they need emotionally and socially as well as physically.

I also don't really object to her writing this because seventeen-year-olds are always writing stuff like this; I was more self-assured at seventeen and eighteen than I ever expect to be for the rest of my life and I suspect that's true for many, many people. Although I don't find this to be enormously ground-breaking or anything, it (mostly) seems like pretty solid, decent advice about raising kids in pretty much any context.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 7:10 AM on December 29, 2010 [9 favorites]


I was too busy trying to process the contention, in the third paragraph, that objecting to your children doing illegal drugs is the SAME THING as thinking sex ed leads to pregnancy, to take very much from the rest of it.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 7:13 AM on December 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


I was too busy trying to process the contention, in the third paragraph, that objecting to your children doing illegal drugs is the SAME THING as thinking sex ed leads to pregnancy, to take very much from the rest of it.

Yeah, that was a big part of where my "mostly" came from.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 7:19 AM on December 29, 2010


Oh please. That's more eye-roll inducing than anything I read in the article.

Read it in Stephen Fry's voice. It helps.
posted by HerArchitectLover at 7:30 AM on December 29, 2010


My comment, I mean. Not the article.
posted by HerArchitectLover at 7:32 AM on December 29, 2010


The language in this was so over-the-top California hippy it became physically painful to read...

Way to stereotype, buddy. Also, I feel for your extreme medical condition.

I think the articles cited adventures (or at least exemplars) make for excellent Monday morning around the sandbox moments ("Look at my extensions!") but I mean, whatdafuck, Mom? Her parenting points are chilling: I can't see valuing the merits of some of these without having gone without. The undercurrents are rather horrifying. While Jade makes it seem like a fairytale existence I can't help but think that her mom is maybe a little too party: help your children be children for crissakes, and not just another pet.
posted by Ogre Lawless at 7:36 AM on December 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


What proportion is the article's undertone and how much is me bringing in matching luggage from my own life is unknown, but something about this list has the voice of the author whispering, "I wish my mom had known this early on" to me. That is a little sad.

I will not say that there's only so much carefree to go around, but it is not uncommon for the children of wild and counter-culture parents to have to give up a portion of their childhoods looking after their elders. Nobody will ever hand you back that blessed ignorance of bills and grocery lists once you've had to manage these things for stoned or self-involved adults.

What things of others people squander, all without knowing it ...
posted by adipocere at 7:41 AM on December 29, 2010 [3 favorites]


I'd be more interested in hearing from her at 27 or 37, 17 is simply too soon to tell what kind of person she'll be. I know of no one, myself included, who is the same person they were in high school and there's no reason for me to believe this won't the same for her.
posted by tommasz at 7:52 AM on December 29, 2010 [3 favorites]


some of this I liked, some of it I didn't. Before we had a kid (relatively later on) we went to Burning Mans and Convergences and Defcons and Ren Faires. We drank Absinthe and danced until dawn It took a while to extricate ourselves from all that but it became obvious, that were we do this parenting thing the best way we could--we needed to.

We took her to a Convergence--for part of one day when she was little and she had a beautiful spiderweb dress on her toddler self. We haven't traveled to other ones, we spent the money on Disney World, which she (and we loved). We go to Ren Faires every year, will be taking her to her first Anime Festival this year (she's Otaku for all things Japanese, even teaching herself to speak it using Rosetta Stone and Genki Japan). She's more knowledgeable about online safety than most adults I know and she's a happy, well adjusted, slightly weird but very well liked kid. Plus she's cute--but that was just luck.

I've made mistakes in letting the 'offbeat' life creep in too often, though I have a handle on that now. It took realizing that I am already a person I don't need to "hang on to my identity" or carve it out again--that I added to it with identity of mother and once I pulled my head out of my butt I quit needing to still be cool. I could just *be* and a big part of being is being her mother. You don't have lose yourself when you become a parent, just modify. If your kid isn't important enough for that, then why did you have them?

It seemed sad that this kid was giving basic parenting advice like "put kids first," and "be patient." Makes you wonder where that came from. She sounds like a wonderful kid, who will be a wonderful adult, but I can't help thinking maybe a little less weed and a little more tucking in might have been a good idea.

Also--not a chance I'd take her to Burning Man--c'mon adults need a place to be adults. She's right--find kid friendly stuff. And age appropriate.
posted by pywacket at 7:53 AM on December 29, 2010 [10 favorites]


Sorry, but no parent worth his/her salt needs a 17 year old to explain that sometimes a child's needs have to come before a parent's wants. That's bare-minimum parenting right there. I wonder what happened in her life to prompt that kind of advice to would-be "alternative" parents. Sad, sad, sad.

I'm sad to say it, but I think a large majority of parents need the 17 year old (or somebody) to explain it. There are a lot of parents out there who think that kids need to learn discipline and shouldn't interrupt an adult who's speaking unless it's a dire emergency. Hell, there are parents out there who think crying BABIES should be purposely ignored.
posted by callmejay at 8:07 AM on December 29, 2010


I never heard about kids at Burning Man. I heard about nudity and sex shows all over the place at Burning Man. Who and when did kids first arrive at Burning Man?
posted by bukvich at 8:11 AM on December 29, 2010


This resonates with me, because we're in the SCA, so we also take our child to a big, outdoor festival to sleep in tents for two weeks every summer and know many people who have done the same.

At the risk of making an enormous generalization, I have mostly found that kids who grew up fully exposed to this sort of life are better adjusted and able to make more mature decisions at an earlier age than their more sheltered peers. I can think of two young women, in particular, who have been very articulate about how seeing adults do things (drink, smoke, sex, work) to excess made them much more wary of doing things to excess themselves once they got to college and out on their own.

Also I'm making a sincere and lifelong effort to not judge the parenting of others unless there's something genuinely wrong it -- not just that they have a different philosophy or were raised differently or read a different book. They have to be doing something demonstrably damaging to get me going.

This, this, a thousand times this. (I was just writing about that today, actually.) Here are my criteria for judging you as a parent: Is the child loved? Is the child safe? Everything else is window dressing.
posted by anastasiav at 8:19 AM on December 29, 2010 [12 favorites]


Rather, "Parenting tips from a teen who grew up going to festivals with her offbeat mama"?
Sorry, but no parent worth his/her salt needs a 17 year old to explain that sometimes a child's needs have to come before a parent's wants. That's bare-minimum parenting right there. I wonder what happened in her life to prompt that kind of advice to would-be "alternative" parents. Sad, sad, sad.
Are you suggesting that such admonitions would be out of place delivered to, say, workaholic materialistic yuppies in the suburbs? Indeed, it is sad, but not in any way specific to the burner/festie community. My parents' careers certainly took predominance over the personal development of LittleMrMoonPie, at least at times.

I've seen far, far more parental involvement and just simple unabashedly unselfconscious love for children expressed at Playa del Fuego than at Chuckie Cheese, or, hell, even the Girl Scout functions I've attended. I've seen every bit as much public intoxication at sporting events and my grandmother's basement as I've seen at Sunshine Daydreams Music Park.
posted by MrMoonPie at 8:35 AM on December 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


I was too busy trying to process the contention, in the third paragraph, that objecting to your children doing illegal drugs is the SAME THING as thinking sex ed leads to pregnancy, to take very much from the rest of it.

I didn't have any trouble with this at all, although I guess the drugs I was thinking of were marijuana, hashish etc, and imagining that the children in question were at least teenagers. But as soon as I say this, I remember I was 11 the first time I went out of my way to get drunk (and alcohol is still the only drug that's ever actually poisoned me), barely 13 the first time I got stoned on marijuana, 16 the first time I did a psychedelic -- always as far away from a responsible adult as I could get.

Many kids have no desire to do drugs at an early age and good on 'em, but many do. In a sane culture, we wouldn't allow our preconceived notions of propriety to force them to do this secretly ...
posted by philip-random at 9:07 AM on December 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


There's something really sad about the bit where she explains how she got a food-work job at Burning Man so that she could save her mother the trouble of waiting in line. Maybe it's cliche in this situation, but it's clear that she really hasn't had anyone worrying about her needs quite enough, and spent most of her life worrying about someone else's.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 9:11 AM on December 29, 2010 [6 favorites]


it's clear that she really hasn't had anyone worrying about her needs quite enough, and spent most of her life worrying about someone else's.
Again, sad, yes, but not at all unique to the burner community.
posted by MrMoonPie at 9:22 AM on December 29, 2010


Well, no, but this was a little prepubescent girl who thought it a win-win situation when she's out of her mom's hair at an event they went to together and who also notes that it was great because it made her feel needed. I'm not saying her situation is unique, but I think that this girl in this article (the subject of the FPP, after all) sounds quite sad and lonely, and I feel for her that so many of her needs went unaddressed through most of her childhood.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 9:33 AM on December 29, 2010


@philiprandom: "I didn't have any trouble with this at all, although I guess the drugs I was thinking of were marijuana, hashish etc, and imagining that the children in question were at least teenagers."

well, given that I have a close friend who's a federal defender who spends buttloads of time defending teenagers charged as adults with a federal felony for various minor drug offenses, while 16-year-olds having sex is legal in many states, I think there's a HUGE difference between a teen doing something perfectly legal and committing a federal felony with super-fun adult prison time.

It's not the propriety I'm worried about.

Obviously US drug laws are insane, but I'm certainly not going to put my child in a position where I encourage my child to break them, having seen the consequences over and over again.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 9:58 AM on December 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


(Also, sex ed is literally "knowing how sex works." There's a huge difference between objecting to factual information about sex and/or drugs, and objecting to a child ENGAGING IN sex and/or drugs. She conflates the two.)
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 10:01 AM on December 29, 2010 [3 favorites]


Maybe some of the stuff she's noting that's making you all sad she watched happen to *other* kids, not her. Shrug, I liked this, she seems smart.
posted by tristeza at 10:03 AM on December 29, 2010 [6 favorites]


Actually, she says in the comments that her drug advice is based on her own experiences watching the adults around her use them. It seems that this is a first hand account?

I enjoyed reading this too; she seems bright, if lacking in self-awareness in some ways (not all that atypical for a 17-year-old). However, the fact that she's bright or a good writer doesn't mean that her upbringing was healthy or not dysfunctional. Plenty of smart writers had dysfunctional childhoods.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 10:10 AM on December 29, 2010


College application essay.
posted by Edward L at 10:12 AM on December 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


I'm really saddened by the response this thoughtful post is getting. To me, she doesn't sound sad, abandoned or lonely. Having a "job" at 11 is *awesome*. It makes you feel important, which is what every kid wants. Think about how much your kids love to help you cook and bake. Now imagine that they get to have that much fun and feel like they're important while they do it! Kids love to feel like they're capable and that they can help their parents. Of course it's great to feel like you can save someone waiting in line!

The reason you don't hear more from people raised in alternative lifestyles is that the response is often exclusionary and judging. Even from a community as open and welcoming as MetaFilter. For all the show about being accepting, someone comes to tell you about the different way in which they were raised and you take the opportunity to insult her mother's parenting skills, call her lonely and a bad writer.

I've been struggling to find a way of talking about my childhood with people who weren't raised in the same way or environment. I was delighted to see this on the front page and excited to read the comments. But the comments just reinforce that I should keep my story to myself. Snark and condescension about the right way to raise a child is limiting the voices you hear. It's a strangely conservative reaction for such a liberal place to have.
posted by stoneweaver at 10:25 AM on December 29, 2010 [37 favorites]


Hey all! I'm the publisher of the linked site, and just wanted to chime in. I've known Jade and her mother for a decade, so of course I'm not able to be objective about any this, but I did want to herald this comment: Also I'm making a sincere and lifelong effort to not judge the parenting of others unless there's something genuinely wrong it -- not just that they have a different philosophy or were raised differently or read a different book. You pretty much summed up the values of Offbeat Mama.

Oh, but one tiny issue of contention: Jade lived in Seattle until a year ago, so her affect is pure Northwest. California doesn't own the market on left coast hippie speak, people!

And, last thing: Trishalyn, I totally agree that this could relate to taking kids to cons, a subject we've talked about on Offbeat Mama.
posted by arielmeadow at 10:26 AM on December 29, 2010 [6 favorites]


Huh. I guess my mom was an offbeat mama, and I had an unusual childhood - who knew? There was no Burning Man when I was a kid, but we went to music festivals. I spend a lot of nights falling asleep on strange couches or beds because my mom brought me to a (grown-up) party and we stayed past my bedtime. We kids ran in packs all over the neighborhood, and at the aforementioned music festivals. My mom asked me to tell her if I wanted to try pot, so she could get some and be with me at home the first time I smoked it. (I did do this, and it was all fine.)

Her childhood doesn't sound sad to me. It seems sad that other people think it's weird and/or sad.
posted by rtha at 11:14 AM on December 29, 2010 [15 favorites]


What struck me is that this is less of a "parenting tips from a young adult" and much more of "thanks Mom, you did fine, and I appreciate it".

She knows most people aren't tucking their kids in in a tent at a music festival while a lover awaits. That was a message directly to her mother, and she is thanking her for being there.

It's a cool message.

As for how to raise children? I have three kids. I spent years in parent-cooperative schooling. All I can say is that kids are a lot like their parents. These well adjusted kids that come from hippie families are not well adjusted because they grew up in hippie families. There are well adjusted kids that come from conservative Mormon families, too. The thing they have in common is love, respect, and responsibility.
posted by Xoebe at 11:39 AM on December 29, 2010 [10 favorites]


This is a pretty good article, though it definitely reminds me of all the hippie kids I have known who did have to take care of their parents in various ways- the line about running to bring her mom three bowls of food and drinks was a bit cringe inducing. It seems like her mom worked hard to be a good mom, but I've been to enough festivals and parties in my life to have seen kids left alone at times when they needed a parent. It's not the norm, but it happens. But you know, it also happens everywhere else- at least hippie kids have something to do besides stare at a TV, and they tend to learn some measure of self-sufficiency.

I never heard about kids at Burning Man. I heard about nudity and sex shows all over the place at Burning Man. Who and when did kids first arrive at Burning Man?

There were kids the first year I went: 1996.

Also: public sex is not the same as sex shows. And there's not that much of that, because you can get a ticket for it.

Snark and condescension about the right way to raise a child is limiting the voices you hear. It's a strangely conservative reaction for such a liberal place to have.


I stopped thinking of MetaFilter as liberal in the sense of "open-minded" a long time ago. It may be socially liberal here, but culturally it's very conservative. There's a significant amount of commenters here who can't seem to understand people living different lives than they do. People can be chill about sex and gender, and completely knee-jerk about hipsters or fedora-wearers.
posted by oneirodynia at 1:50 PM on December 29, 2010 [10 favorites]


stoneweaver: The reason you don't hear more from people raised in alternative lifestyles is that the response is often exclusionary and judging.

This is so right I wish I had a thousand favorites to give it.

I'm in a band that plays a dozen festivals or so a summer. Most of the festivals we play are "kid friendly" and tons of folks bring their children. I found myself smiling and nodding when she described the pack of kids running around the fest, having a blast. Every festival I've ever played has an alcohol-free children's area. Most of the bands will send someone over as an ambassador, to play music for the kids, tell stories, and encourage the kids to get up on stage and perform. When my partner and I planned our own outdoor music festival we were delighted when folks brought their children (and even newborn babies) along for the party. It boosted the sense of community - we didn't feel the need to exclude children.

Also--not a chance I'd take her to Burning Man--c'mon adults need a place to be adults. She's right--find kid friendly stuff. And age appropriate.

What are you doing that you would be ashamed to do in front of a child? Maybe you should reconsider how "adult" your behavior actually is.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 2:33 PM on December 29, 2010 [3 favorites]


Music fests and packs of children are wonderful things to encourage! Just being outdoors and having kids to run around with is great, how much better to have awesome adults involving you in the creative process. Thanks for making that happen. You're helping the creation of lasting memories.

And I agree, very few things people feel the need to hide from kids are actually the actions of mature adults. Mostly, people try to hide them because they are immature, adolescent ways of being that they're ashamed to explain to kids. Hypocrisy doesn't go well with children, and people know it. Things like adult conversations, a certain level of inebriation, creativity and performance aren't things that adults need to "protect" kids from.
posted by stoneweaver at 3:17 PM on December 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


I didn't mind it, but I loved that she worked as a food service worked at Burning Man so her mom and mom's pals didn't have to stand in line with everyone else. What a thoughtful 11 yr old. I wish my kids would get jobs like that.

But Offbeat Mama's prose

Modern industrialized society has demanded for generations that when a woman becomes a mother, she stop whatever independent life she had been creating and settle down to the task of rearing littles.

made me nearly hurl. Littles? Stop independent life? What planet does she visit when she's done here?
posted by Ideefixe at 3:34 PM on December 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


What are you doing that you would be ashamed to do in front of a child?

Two things I'm not ashamed to do, but would not do in front of my child:

1. Tripping.
2. Fucking.
posted by Ratio at 3:37 PM on December 29, 2010 [3 favorites]


Sorry, but no parent worth his/her salt needs a 17 year old to explain that sometimes a child's needs have to come before a parent's wants.

Most parents that I've known in the past twenty years or so needed to be told just the opposite; sometimes kid's wants don't trump everything.
posted by octothorpe at 4:30 PM on December 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


Hey, arielmeadow, thanks for showing up and welcome. Can you give a little background as why this piece was commissioned/written? It sorts seems like it's preaching to the choir.
posted by nomadicink at 4:36 PM on December 29, 2010


Also--not a chance I'd take her to Burning Man--c'mon adults need a place to be adults. She's right--find kid friendly stuff. And age appropriate.

KidsVille Camp at Burning Man.
posted by scalefree at 5:00 PM on December 29, 2010


I didn't mind it, but I loved that she worked as a food service worked at Burning Man so her mom and mom's pals didn't have to stand in line with everyone else. What a thoughtful 11 yr old.

Cultural context is everything. Burning Man culture is participatory, driven by a gift economy. Jade's job was her way of participating & contributing to the strength of her tribe, her camp. It's not a sad thing at all, quite the opposite.
posted by scalefree at 5:06 PM on December 29, 2010 [4 favorites]


Snark and condescension about the right way to raise a child is limiting the voices you hear. It's a strangely conservative reaction for such a liberal place to have.

The article irritated the shit out of me. I asked the wife to read it, tell me what she thought. When she was finished, the question she asked was "What, does it surprise you that there's people like us out there."

Ah, that's it. The "lessons" of Jade seemed like a no brainer, so being told this hints was annoying for someone who doesn't like having information repeated (yes, high school was rough).

Instilling kids with a sense of responsibility and awareness of the world and their place in it is natural. They should be taken to many different experiences and sometimes "thrown in the pool to teach them to swim" as along as the parents are carefully watching from the sidelines. And they should be given and introduced to lots of fun experiences, especially ones that may challenge them or societies conventions.

Based on her writing, Jade doesn't sound sad at all. She sounds thankful for the unique and unconventional experiences she had and glad to have the mother she has. Not a bad place to be for a 17 year old.
posted by nomadicink at 5:10 PM on December 29, 2010


A lot of hippie hate in this thread. If you are going to take your kids to festivals this article is full of good advice. Especially the tuck them in and set up a kid friendly space. Tucking them in because those little rituals bind a family together and give them a sense of normalcy in the chaotic festival environment.


Having all those goddamned kids around ruined Burning Man.
posted by nevercalm at 6:29 AM on December 29


I agree, burning man should be limited to 30 and older.
posted by psycho-alchemy at 5:39 PM on December 29, 2010


Her childhood doesn't sound sad to me. It seems sad that other people think it's weird and/or sad.

This, a thousand times over.
posted by Forktine at 6:28 PM on December 29, 2010


My mom and dad were far from hippies but my aunt and uncle were sort of the ur-hippies in the sixties and into the seventies. They lived in a blue VW bus for years; knew the Dead, Tom Hayden and Tim Leary personally; had hair to their waists and survived by selling silk-screened stickers out of the that bus. Their son was conceived when they were living in a ashram in India and he was born when they were living in a plastic geodesic dome on a commune in rural Ontario. He grew up in a commune in Cambridge in a giant run-down Victorian mansion owned by a renegade psych professor, hanging out with lots of famous hippies/musicians/artists that you've probably heard of doing. He, my cousin, grew up just fine after hanging out with the hippiest of hippies and is now a successful filmmaker, dad and loves his parents. Anecdotal of course but hippies can and have raised kids for almost fifty years now.

needless to say, I was massively jealous of my cousin whenever I visited on holidays.
posted by octothorpe at 7:23 PM on December 29, 2010


From the article: If you're going to do drugs, don't do them in sight of your kidlet until the child has had drug education independent from you.

I felt better about the article after I saw this, because she's totally right.

My family lived on a few communes when I was growing up, and I remember it being paradise for a kid. There were roving gangs of kids and plenty of adults willing to play games, laugh at our stupid jokes, or teach us cool stuff.

But those adults were more careful around us than I ever realized. My mother especially made sure we never saw or heard about the actual ingestion of drugs, and it wasn't until I was in my twenties that I learned that so many of the grown-ups from the communes had been high or tripping on a regular basis. I don't know, I always figured all of them were naturally that fun and easy-going, I guess. I was pretty naive all around.

And I'm so grateful for that shielding, because I never learned to associate fun or creativity with drugs. When a woman started painting her ceiling and exclaiming over the beauty of her skin, I didn't know she was on mushrooms -- I just thought she was interesting, and she was right, skin is awesome!

I think I would have had a lot more problems if I had grown up thinking that drugs were a normal part of life. And the author was right: I would have talked to my friends about drugs if I had known about them, and I would have been promptly banned by their parents.
posted by Toothless Willy at 8:41 PM on December 29, 2010 [6 favorites]


The reason you don't hear more from people raised in alternative lifestyles is that the response is often exclusionary and judging.


If you think dressing up as goth and telling us over and over and over again that you're "Spiritual, not Religious" that " The Book was much Darker than the Film Version" and various other now extremely mainstream practices is somehow 'alternative' .........gah. The kind of people who flock to these lifestyles would be absolutely devastated if no one criticised them.
posted by sgt.serenity at 8:49 PM on December 29, 2010


arielmeadow: California doesn't own the market on left coast hippie speak, people!

My mistake. It's the quickest short-hand I have for what I was trying to reference - apparently more accurately called "left coast hippie speak". I freely admit that I am no expert on the particular regionalisms on the far coast of your fair country across the Atlantic.
posted by Dysk at 11:00 PM on December 29, 2010


Weird, I read this last night and thought it was insanely well-written for a 17 year old, and nothing in it struck me as bad advice or crazy or hippy-dippy. It's all pretty solid, I think some people here complaining about it used things she said as jumping off points for assumptions.

I'm a parent and I struggle myself with how to remain an adult and also be a 100% there-for-the-child parent and it's a tough balance to strike. I fear sometimes my daughter isn't seeing a variety of experiences in the world because I keep her in safe kid land for most of it. I look to some friends and one couple I know take their kid everywhere, like camping as a six month old, something I haven't done yet in 5+ years of having a child, and off to Europe for sightseeing trips (I've never flown on more than a 5hr flight with my child).

I'm not going to take my child to Burning Man, but the advice in the essay is pretty sound for adventurous parents.
posted by mathowie at 12:23 AM on December 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


"The kind of people who flock to these lifestyles would be absolutely devastated if no one criticised them."

Now that you've figured out that everything we do is secretly about wanting a reaction from You, why not ignore us instead? That'll show us, right?

Please, please, please feel free to never again heap upon us the insults we clearly crave so desperately.
posted by kyrademon at 1:35 AM on December 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


And she's considering studying journalism in college.

I don't see how that's connected to exposure to parental lovers and Fishbone, even on a snarky level. Maybe she's thinking of TV and radio, not print, where one can hardly get a job anymore? Please clue me in. I was raised in a vastly more traditional environment, and still went to j-school. Maybe she'll start a profitable blog or niche website or something anyway.
posted by raysmj at 6:08 AM on December 30, 2010


I don't see how that's connected to exposure to parental lovers and Fishbone, even on a snarky level.

A desire to see truth delivered and issues that affect people reported on?
posted by nomadicink at 7:03 AM on December 30, 2010


A couple of generations ago, the prevailing thought was that children were to be seen and not heard and that if the kid isn't bleeding, s/he should not interrupt Mommy's Bridge Club.
Hmn, this seems like something people believe because they've seen it in movies or on TV. It's a narrow -- even cartoonish, honestly -- read on "the prevailing thought" on parenting a couple of generations ago. I, nor any of my friends or relatives, had parents anything at all like this. And I'm a well-read, well-traveled, middle-class, white, suburbs-born-and-raised boomer.
posted by thinkpiece at 8:16 AM on December 30, 2010


nomadicink: Yeah, but (hoping you) realize that I was responding to a post chock full of judgmental snark, followed by the bit about j-school.
posted by raysmj at 8:38 AM on December 30, 2010


I don't see how that's connected to exposure to parental lovers and Fishbone, even on a snarky level.

Well, I think she has a ton to write about, and she's very good for her age. I just meant that considering all the craziness and (probably) creepiness she's been exposed to as an independent kid at Burning Man, j-school is a no-brainer. She's probably got a million stories to tell, and as much as I like to tease the neo-hippie festival lifestyle, it no doubt made her self-reliant and creative and brave -- good traits for a journalist to have. The snarkiness was a bit knee-jerk, I admit, and I can see how it made my comment unclear.
posted by HerArchitectLover at 8:59 AM on December 30, 2010


For anyone interested in a literary treatment of the "alternative" coming of girl age experience amidst unconventional adults, please consider The Saskiad, by Brian Hall.
posted by emhutchinson at 11:19 AM on December 30, 2010


I'm a bit surprised at how judgmental people are being about this article. She sounds like a happy, extremely well-adjusted 17-yr old. Would that all 17-yr-olds could write so well. Why are people surprised that she sounds her age?

Also, it came off to me more like a thank you to the mom who did these things right, possibly compared to other kids who didn't have that benefit, but who the writer saw at the festivals, etc.?
posted by bardophile at 9:34 PM on December 30, 2010 [3 favorites]


The reason you don't hear more from people raised in alternative lifestyles is that the response is often exclusionary and judging.

sgt.serenity: The kind of people who flock to these lifestyles would be absolutely devastated if no one criticised them.

Thanks for proving the point.
posted by coolguymichael at 12:37 PM on December 31, 2010


Two things I'm not ashamed to do, but would not do in front of my child:
1. Tripping.
2. Fucking.

Definitely.
I feel a bit weird about the idea of being intoxicated in front of children, period. Even if you're the most benevolent drunk or fascinating conversationalist when stoned. But that's my personal boundary, I guess. I don't even like the idea of being intoxicated in the same house, unless there is someone else who is clearly there to take responsibility in case of emergency.

On the topic of fests and conventions and such, I encourage everyone to continue setting up organizing structures at these events that make it easier and easier to bring kids there.
Many places don't have the infrastructure at first, but many greats conventions and festivals are making it easier for parents to come with their kiddos, and I think that's fabulous.
posted by Theta States at 8:13 AM on January 5, 2011


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