Friday, January 27, 2017

Parenting and the Burden of 'Alternative Facts'




If you have not been living under a rock this past week, you'd be painfully aware that the buzz phrase these days is 'alternative facts'. Thanks to the current administration, blatant lies or falsehoods can no longer be treated as such, but instead should be gracefully embraced as mere allowances to how much truth can be stretched even to its unrecognizable version. 

Just to be clear, I had a really difficult time finishing that last sentence above because any sane person knows how impossible the task is when you are forced to make sense of the nonsensical. A normal person can really only take so much bullsh*t. Unfortunately, the current U.S. president and his minions don't have much trouble with said task. 

As a parent, I'm having serious trouble with the concept of 'alternative facts' and pray to the heavens that it never ever becomes acceptable. Let's be clear...

THERE. IS. NO. SUCH. THING.

Facts are facts. Objective reality exists to be acknowledged and to be used as a standard. My training as a Sociologist makes me a stickler for observable or measurable data. You don't get to twist numbers or proven conclusions and still claim to be correct and equally true. 

If my reverence for facts and objective reality makes me a tiger parent, then so be it. The whole point of socializing our children is so that they realize there is a whole world outside of themselves and their families, and standards exist against which they will be measured. These standards don't revolve around them, nor do these standards bow down to their every whim. 

When children go to school, they spend time with their peers and all of them are measured according to certain requirements. If my son is not the best student based on the grades he receives or other assessment, then he needs to know and respect that. I will not tell him those standards don't mean anything. I am not the kind of parent who will not tell her child the need to do better when he's clearly not measuring up. 

I will not tell him that everyone is a winner when there is a game. No! Scores are there to show who played better and who did not. Not everyone can claim victory. That's why it's called a game, for crying out loud. There are rules, standards and skill sets required. It's a competition and it's either you win or you lose. 

When my son tries to practice a song for a school program, I tell him when he's out of tune. I don't tell him, "Oh sweetie, you're the best! Keep it up!", even when his tone makes me want to bang my head against the wall. Yes, I've been known to be quite harsh at times, hurting my son's feelings by uttering the words, 'you suck', even when I say it with as much tenderness as I can afford. 

But honestly, I would rather be this kind of parent than one who only praises all the time, or one who tells her child he is 'the best' in everything even when it's objectively not true. I want him to not grow up oblivious to others. I want him to grow up knowing that he needs to work hard to excel and being the best you can be is a lifelong process. I want him to know that though he is special or unique and will always be loved by his parents, he still has to respect how he will be measured by social institutions he is or will be a part of  by virtue of his citizenship in this social world. I need him to know that you can only define your reality to a certain extent and imposing such on others when that reality clearly does not align with objective reality, facts, or widely accepted and proven truths, is INSANITY. 

I don't want to raise a mad man and I don't believe it's too early to say that I haven't. My son, even at 9 years of age, knows that 'alternative facts' carries the same meaning as 'lies' or 'delusions'. It really isn't that hard to understand...IF you are sane. 

3 comments:

  1. That's wrong with the America of today. To many "Everybody gets a trophy!" syndrome. He has never been told no or if he has he simply ignores it. Sickening.

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    1. Yes, I completely agree that it is sickening, Rena. Thank you for your thoughts and I hope all is sane in your part of the world! xoxo

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  2. Remember a couple of weeks ago when you wanted your kid to emulate the president?

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