Do Parents Have the Right to Impose Their Values on Everyone Else’s Kids?

My daughter has been going to the same summer day camp since kindergarten.  She loves it, particularly the two field trips per week, but the highlight has always been “Harry Potter Week”.

Evidently adolescent wizards are no longer cool, because the week of Hogwarts-themed activities (including each camper being sorted into a house, Quidditch tournaments, and viewings of the first two films) have been replaced by … The Hunger Games.

As soon as I saw the summer calendar activities, I realized that the camp was setting itself up for potential trouble.  In other words, they were either very brave or very stupid.

Why?  Because there is a contingency of parents–a vocal minority that I fear is, unfortunately, growing–with the notion that imposing their own morals on the greater community is perfectly okay.

My daughter was strongly discouraged from reading Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire for her free read book in her third grade class.  Teachers have been censured for leading students in games like Mafia.  Books ranging from J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye to Lois Lowry’s dystopian Young Adult masterpiece The Giver have been banned from school libraries, never mind classrooms.

I once had a fairly lengthy debate with a parent who was concerned by the use of the word “ni****” in To Kill a Mockingbird.  This was an intelligent city woman, the last parent I expected to have an issue with her child reading the book in English class.  In a nutshell, she didn’t want her child exposed to such a terrible word.  I get that, I totally do.  I am, after all, a mother before I’m a teacher, and both of my daughters have told me on numerous occasions that I have issues with being overprotective.  What I finally told the parent–a woman I like and admire very much, I might add–is that pretending the word, not to mention the hate behind it, never existed was doing a disservice not just to her child but to a classroom full of them.  I think To Kill a Mockingbird is one of the most important books ever written, and the message that words of hate were once commonplace–and not too long ago, when you stop and think about it–is one that everyone can learn from.  She ended up totally cool with it (I gave her my lesson plans in advance), and life went on.

But The Hunger Games at a summer day camp may be somewhat different …

I want to make very clear that I personally do not have a problem with The Hunger Games.  My nine-year-old has seen the movie numerous times and is reading the book as I write this (of course, she’s also seen Mean Girls…her older sister thought it was totally fine to watch while babysitting one day).  We’ve talked about it at length, the emphasis of our chats being on the dystopian factor.  In other words, this is why we have to be careful in how we live our lives and what we let our society become.

There are already rumbles of discontent from some of the camp parents.  They are not happy that this terrible book where kids kill each other to win lots of money, bragging rights, and lifelong comfort is being forced upon their little campers.

To me, this is just another example of some parents trying to make judgments based on their own opinions, and I have a real problem with that.

Of course, if I ran a camp, I wouldn’t have touched The Hunger Games with a ten-foot pole for precisely this reason.  It’s not a can of worms I would want to go anywhere near.

In the name of full disclosure, we are going to be in New York City during “Hunger Games Week”.  I will miss the fallout, whatever it is.

I find this something of a relief, to be completely honest with you.

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Channing Tatum Gives Parenting Advice And It’s (Mostly) Horrible

I will be honest, I am shocked that Channing Tatum and Jenna Dewan-Tatum have lasted seven years—but they have. Last week they had a baby girl named Everly and now Channing Tatum is talking about his parenting knowledge. Full disclosure I struggle with enjoying him. I love that he and his wife are activists for animals, I love that they are down to earth and really chill people, I enjoy that they are kind and I’ve never experienced or heard of them pulling a “Jesse Eisenberg“.
He admits that he doesn’t have much, being a new dad and all, but he does have this to say, “”I don’t think you can prepare it’s a bit of a freestyle.” Yeah, man having and raising a kid is a lot like freestyle… except no—it’s not. Tatum gives more advice in his Vanity Fair interview.
Tatum says he is learning from his parent’s mistakes, “I don’t know anyone who did have perfect parents. It’s provided me with lessons I’ll try to improve upon when I’m up to bat. I’m just going to be a good friend to my kid.” Totally, bro cause your kid needs friends more than a dad. He goes on, “That whole ‘I don’t want you to make the same mistakes’ mentality. My dad didn’t have much money growing up; he didn’t have much of an education. He forced that on me, and I didn’t want it.” God, what jerk, I feel for you Channing Tatum. Your father had a hard life and he wanted something better for you so he pushed you and now you have a beautiful wife who gave birth to your daughter in London (cause you can afford to travel there, I bet your dad couldn’t), fame, a career, and an estimated net worth of 14 million. Pfffft, what a dick of a dad to want all that for you.
Apparently, Tatum has a learning disability and that’s what put him off education. That I can understand. “I [still] read so slow,” Tatum confided. “If I have a script I’m going to read it five times slower than any other actor, but I’ll be able to tell you everything in it. It kills me that there are standardized tests geared towards just one kind of child.” Finally, something I can agree with. He goes on about his thoughts on medication: “I truly believe some people need medication, I did not. I did better at school when I was on it, but it made me a zombie. You become obsessive.” He compared drugs such as Dexedrine, and Adderall to “coke, or crystal meth,” spot on Tatum. “The more you do, the less it works. For a time, it would work well. Then it worked less and my pain was more. I would go through wild bouts of depression, horrible comedowns. I understand why kids kill themselves, I absolutely do. You feel terrible. You feel soul-less. I’d never do it to my child.”
Well, just when I thought I was going to be able to spend this whole piece bashing him he brought me back to his side. I’m glad he won’t medicate his kid, I’m glad he won’t drive them to be a doctor or scientist, but come on, bro—a freestyle?


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A New Normal

The term “stay at home Dad” still has some stigma around it. I bet your ears perked up. It’s still uncommon with only four percent of stay at home parents being men. Now, that’s an official number but actual stay at home dad’s say that number is much higher.

Stay at home dad’s talk a lot about how they seem to be a novelty. People in grocery stores stop and stare at a man with a baby strapped to him grocery shopping during the day. Thinking it’s probably his day off—not his daily routine.  People smile and point at the dad at the park but pay no mind to the mom’s around him. That’s the mom’s role, right?

The story of one stay at home dad in particular is all too common. They didn’t start out this way—dad lost his job and to save money on childcare he stayed home. That’s when they noticed that their son was less tense, happier, listened better, less fighting and yelling in the home—clearly this was a winning formula. This particular stay at home dad also said he was stopped one day while walking with his boys. A car pulled up and rolled down it’s window to reveal a college kid. He smiled and said, “You know, I wish my dad played with me as much as you play with your kids.”

Dad’s always seem to be this untouchable, authoritative figure.  “Wait till your father hears about this!” That phrase strikes fear in the hearts of millions. Dad is the disciplinary—the worker, the guy that gets the big piece of chicken—he doesn’t make the chicken…until now

Kids benefit from having a parent home. This we know. I wonder if it makes a difference that the one that’s home is the one that is the rough and tumble one? They think, you can always pull one over on mom—just bat your eyes at her and she’ll swoon on your charms. I remember my nephew throwing a fit over some snack he wanted that my mother had refused him. You would’ve thought that this kid was being tortured at Gitmo the way he screamed.  She gave in and as he walked past me he very calmly stated “works every time”.

My nephew doesn’t pull that stunt with me—mainly because I’m one of the father figures in his world.  He grew up with my parents and me. My dad and I are the only masculine figures my nephew knows. Whenever he draws his family I am the only girl in pants and I always stand with my dad while his mother and my mother are in pinks and oranges in pretty dresses to the left. My dad and I are in blues and greens to the right. That’s fine, I’m more of a guy’s girl anyway—but it got me thinking—how different my nephew would behave if I was his stay at home parent.

The four percent figure I stated earlier is double what it was a decade ago. This trend is growing and all I can say is: “GROW BABY GROW!” We need more dad’s at home. We need more families to see that it doesn’t matter who “brings home the bacon”. People are people and families are families no matter the dynamic.

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We’re Still Trying To Ban Books?

One of the greatest books I have ever read is “The Diary of Anne Frank”. That book wrecks me. I have nothing but the utmost respect for Anne Frank. When Justin Bieber went to The Anne Frank house and wrote:Truly inspiring to be able to come here. Anne was a great girl. Hopefully she would have been a belieber.” I wanted to rip him apart (more than I normally do). Then the pictures of him shadow boxing and wearing a hoodie and sunglasses in her house surfaced and I wanted him to be waterboarded and tortured.

That’s how much this girl and that book means to me. It means that much to a lot of people. That book is an inside look at the torture that someone experienced during one of the darkest times in our world’s history and it’s told with the purity of a child.

Gail Horalek of Northville, Michigan has declared war on this piece of history. Horalek wants the book banned. ”The problem is the school is giving the seventh graders inappropriate material and not explaining it to the parents.”

Horalek is talking about the unedited definitive edition of the book. At first Horalek said she thought it was “awesome” that her daughter was doing a school project on the book until her daughter told her the  ”graphic passages” were making her “uncomfortable.” Firstly, no 12-year-old is going to use the phrase “graphic passages” and I highly doubt she’d say “uncomfortable”.

This is the passage the mother is objecting to:

“Until I was eleven or twelve, I didn’t realize there was a second set of labia on the inside, since you couldn’t see them. What’s even funnier is that I thought urine came out of the clitoris…When you’re standing up, all you see from the front is hair. Between your legs there are two soft, cushiony things, also covered with hair, which press together when you’re standing, so you can’t see what’s inside. They separate when you sit down and they’re very red and quite fleshy on the inside. In the upper part, between the outer labia, there’s a fold of skin that, on second thought, looks like a kind of blister. That’s the clitoris.”

She is objecting to a 12-year-old reading the word labia, clitoris, and vagina. I do believe I had to watch a “changing bodies” video when I was ten. I knew all of that language earlier than that….you know why? Cause I have a vagina and I explored it like an other young girl. That’s right–girl’s play with their vagina’s. I guarentee that this girl has touched her vagina and is well aware of the two sets of lips, the and the location of the clitoris. I’m sure some of her friends have even had sex or given head at that age. When I was in middle school in MICHIGAN in the mid 90′s two girls age 11 and 12 were pregnant.

Sorry, mom you can’t save your little girl from knowing about her vagina. You also can’t burn books. I thought we got over banning and burning books. I thought we evolved passed that. But I guess Michigan, the state I grew up in, is a little behind in the times.

Horalek is demanding that the school go back to teaching from the older, edited version of the book that doesn’t include the uncomfortable passages. You know what else is really uncomfortable? The fact that a young girl had to hide in her attic to try and escape being murdered for her religion. Know what else is uncomfortable? The way the book abruptly ends because she was found and sent to a concentration camp where she died along with 6 million others.That’s really uncomfortable.

Maybe we should worry about things that are really hurting our children.

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