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critics of hippie parenting

Apparently salon.com wanted to celebrate its best of by reposting this rant against hippie parenting, by a former child of boomers who raised her in a free-love commune with a no rules mentality that ended up being very bad for her health and safety. it's a sad story, but as another friend of mine said, it's a story about neglect. not hippie parenting.

the conclusion of the story is that kids need rules and authority, and us crazy new age parents who are afraid to say "because I said so, dammit" are ruining our kids lives.

It's backlash I'm familiar with, but sick of. Yes it's true, I do not like to tell my kids "because I said so", "because I'm bigger than you", "because that's the rule, period."

this doesn't mean we have no rules. it just means I think we can reason things out together sometimes. communication is healthy, a little guidance helps, hearing what's going on in their little heads sometimes helps me be a better parent.

to me, I see two totally even and disturbing ways to teach a kid not to think:

1) you can totally neglect your kids and teach them nothing, you can let them do whatever they want without ever considering consequences and other people.

2) you can also teach them to blindly follow authority.

these are two sides of the same coin to me. why is the authority side of not thinking any better than the consequence-free side of it? that's the only thing us "freedom from rules" parents are asking, when you come down to it.

yes, sometimes when we're shopping and josie is whining about wanting me to buy her something I want to just say "no, because I have a job and you don't."

but I don't think that's fair. So I'm trying to explain to her financial responsibility, and how we go to the store to buy things on our list that we made before we went to the store, and the list is based on what we need for dinner tonight. and stores know that if they put shiny things out for us to see we'll want to buy them, but let's work on just appreciating the shiny things at the store, with the understanding that they don't all need to be in our house. so kid, if you really think you need that thing, let's get out of this tempting environment and you can make a case for it later, and the conclusion will probably be that it'll just have to go on your birthday list because that's the best we can do with toy requests, but that's something. not just, "no".

yes, I realize the world is dangerous. so I've explained what cars can do if they hit a kid. and josie figured out from that to watch for cars, hold my hand, stay close in parking lots, don't run out into the street.

the two year old doesn't get as many words in her explanations but even with her, we point out "your toys are messy, let's pick them up" and she likes to follow examples. again it's more communication, less yelling, somehow turns out okay.

more empathy, more communication, less yelling, and definitely avoiding the blind authority rules, and so far my kids are turning out okay.



( 10 comments — Leave a comment )
Apr. 9th, 2015 03:45 pm (UTC)
Thanks for sharing. I'm still trying to figure out the kind of parent I am. That story brings up some good points of how (not) to handle sex and drugs around kids.
Apr. 9th, 2015 03:50 pm (UTC)
My general rule for these types of articles is "ignore the title." Usually the title is written by the publisher to get lots of page hits, and so they tend towards the controversial and often mis-state the thesis of the article.

I took offence at the title, but I didn't take offence at the article itself. I read this more like "raising your child in a drug laden orgy is bad for them" and less like "everything about hippie parenting is bad." For the first 15 months of my son's life, we lived in a hippie commune. It was generally great; collaborative home cooked meals, a mixed age range of kids for him to play with, an awesome communal play room and yard, and just knowing all your neighbours was great. We still have hand-me-downs from a kid born a few months earlier than him that we're going to use for #2- including a tied dyed footie! There were no drugs used openly (although I know a few people who smoked weed privately) and certainly no orgies.

The hippie commune experience that I know is just so different from what she experienced that I just couldn't take it personally, despite the technical similarity of "hippie" and "commune."

Edited at 2015-04-09 03:51 pm (UTC)
Apr. 9th, 2015 04:04 pm (UTC)
Well, you think this because you have sense and realize that life is complicated. What is this Earth logic you're using in the face of emotion-laden appeals to vilify everything that remotely resembles what hurt the author?

Snarkiness aside, though, I hear you. It's really frustrating to see someone expand a discussion of actual problems with one iteration of a concept into a condemnation of the entire concept and all associated with it. And to see people fall for the "If this version of X had problems, then it and all X are completely bad and the opposite of X must be all good" gambit.

Also, I love how you write about your children. :)
Apr. 9th, 2015 04:11 pm (UTC)
Most of the hippie kids I've known have been pretty well disciplined, curious, and articulate. They were taught to think things through, question everything, and make decisions for themselves based not just on their own needs and wants. There are exceptions, of course, because I have known a few of those folks who are so into the drugs and their own wants to actually raise the kids, but I see that happen in mainstream families where the parents are into drinking too much, too.
Apr. 9th, 2015 05:18 pm (UTC)
Hmmm yeah, that hippie article is about such an extreme lifestyle that I don't see how she could use it to somehow represent general nonauthoritarian parenting...!
Apr. 9th, 2015 06:29 pm (UTC)
Heh. My parish's LGBTS group is discussing moral education tomorrow night, and the organizer sent out a section quoted from here[1]; it's worth a read.

It sounds like you're handling the reality pretty reasonably to me!

1: John J. McNeill, Taking a Chance on God. Liberating Theology for Gays, Lesbians, and Their Lovers, Families and Friends (Boston: Beacon Press, 1988), p.62-63.

Edited at 2015-04-09 06:29 pm (UTC)
Apr. 9th, 2015 08:39 pm (UTC)
I think it sounds like you're doing an amazing job with your kidlets, sweetie. That's always the most important thing of all.
Apr. 9th, 2015 11:32 pm (UTC)
I absolutely try to parent the same way...and my husband always calls it "your hippy parenting style" cuz he's the opposite. He's the rule making, blindly follow, parent is always right so just listen style parenting.

It's a constant fight and issue for us that I have no idea how to resolve.

However, I explain things to my 2 year old and sometimes I just look at him afterwards and I'm like "yea, he didn't catch any of that". So I do on occasion resort to the "I told you so" method. But my 4 year old? He's TOTALLY old enough to process the info. So him and the oldest 3 don't get the "because I told you so" from me anymore.

But they get it from my husband.

So they're probably confused. And probably messing them up.

And I kind of hate it. A lot.

Did you and your hubs have a pretty easy time agreeing on the parenting style?
Apr. 10th, 2015 12:45 am (UTC)
Could I print and post this on our fridge when my in-laws come over? sigh... Sometimes hubby thinks too that I am being permissive. But there's a difference ... I have seen the consequence of kids growing up in a very authoritative, rule-based, do as I say because I am the parent households. :S I'd rather them learn to think and figure out how to face the world! It's funny though everyone agrees in theory but in practice they think it's madness..

And agree the article is more about neglect not so much about the commune... know someone in a commune who are very involved and attentive with their kids. Like a big extended family!
Apr. 10th, 2015 01:11 am (UTC)
I never told my son 'because I said so'. Instead I asked him to give me his argument as to why he thought he should get to do something or shouldn't have to do something. Many times he came up with some very valid reasons, so he won :-) The other times I explained why his reasons just wouldn't work that time. He turned out to be a great adult.
( 10 comments — Leave a comment )

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