I’m a mom, but I’m not like most moms. Having had an abnormal childhood, it would seem to make sense that I’d turn out to be an abnormal parent. I knew, from the moment I’d even considered having a child, I would do things my own way—as I tend to do in everything. The only fear I held, and still do, was the judgment of others. Even now, as I write this entry, I cringe at the backlash from parents who don’t agree with the way I do things. But since I feel like I’ve been successful in raising a smart, kind-hearted, loving girl, I’ve decided the naysayers can have their say, but that’s all they’ll have.
For one thing, I don’t bleach. Unless it’s the toilet, countertop where raw chicken dripped, or a particularly tough stain (even then I only use products that contain bleach), I stick with regular cleaners. When my daughter was a baby, I only used dish soap to clean her toys, pacifiers, and bottles. Why? Well, for one thing our immune systems need to be exposed to the germs around us in order to grow stronger. A little dirt doesn’t hurt anyone. In fact, it can be good for you. Of course, too many germs and you start having problems. But bleach eliminates all of them…good and bad. Many would probably wag their fingers at me on it, but my child is rarely sick and recovers quickly when she is.
One that will get an even worse response is that I censor very little. My daughter watches shows with us that most parents consider over the line. The Walking Dead, for instance, is a favorite of ours. Except for especially vulgar sex scenes, I allow her to watch almost anything. What I hate for her to watch are shows and movies with over-sexualized characters, giving her some idea that all women walk around with their breasts nearly spilling out of their blouses and that’s the only thing men will be attracted to. To me, a good show with fully realized and realistic characters goes a long way. Some of them make you question your own morality, and others have you asking what you would have done in that situation. Questions like that can lead to a healthy understanding of humankind. It can give you a glimpse of who you are just by forcing you to consider the choices you make. Good and bad.
But when it comes to TV, too much can be a bad thing. One thing I agree with my mother on is that video games can be healthy for you. They help to nurture reasoning, strategy, creativity, and precision. My daughter had her first gaming console when she was four years old. She now plays several different games, one of which I couldn’t figure out and she beat in only a couple of hours. She even completed a hidden quest and unlocked some fancy robe that gave her character new abilities. And again, I don’t censor much. The only thing I won’t allow just yet is her playing online (with the exception of Minecraft). If you’ve ever played online games, you know how cruel people can be to kids.
And again, too many hours on the video games can be a bad thing. So we shift to her outdoor activities. I’m probably more like most other parents out there. My husband is the outdoor type, and he has worked with her on rollerblading, biking and even using the hoverboard (though it’s really just a fancy rollerboard). Where we differ is that we’ve also allowed her to learn firearm safety. We gave her a BB gun, and she practiced with it while my husband taught her the rules of safety. Never point your weapon at anything but the ground or your target. Always treat it as if it is loaded. Always turn the safety on when you don’t intend to use it. Don’t let others play with it. Now we haven’t given her a real gun. That would be the day. Ha! I don’t even like the idea of people running around freely with guns on their hips, but if she ever chooses to do so, we wanted to be sure she knew what she was doing with it.
Here’s the one most people would gasp at. We didn’t do the whole Santa thing. We told her the story about him, sure. We even signed some of the presents with his name. But we never told her he was real. She figured it out early on that he was nothing more than a tale. Same goes for the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy. She doesn’t resent us for it. In fact, she thanked us for being honest. One thing my daughter is a stickler about is honesty. In truth we had to keep her from telling other kids about Santa being a myth. To her, she thought it was wrong for other parents to make believe he was real. Finally she agreed to keep her lips sealed about it, but I can’t help but feel a certain amount of pride that she believes honesty truly is the best policy.
Lastly, and probably the one that would have me flamed, is the one I rarely talk about with others. Being that both my husband and I are agnostic, we are raising our daughter as such. We don’t go to church, make her read the Bible, or tell her that a god is up there judging her every decision. (No offense intended for believers.) When she asks about any religion, we tell her what others believe. She knows about Jesus and God, and if she asked to go to church, we would allow it. But ultimately, that decision is hers and hers alone. Whatever she chooses will be okay with us. The only thing we ask is that she never lets her beliefs lead her to hatred and bigotry.
So that’s me. I’m an unconventional mom, raising my daughter to the best of my abilities. So far, I think she’s turned out to be a wonderful person, and I hope that continues. Now, my way of doing things aren’t the only way. Each parent should raise their child as they see fit, and no parent should judge another for doing differently.