On Tuesday I published a post called Worthless Teenagers and the Parents Who Make Them. I’ve had some pretty debated posts in the past, but that one was by far the most polarized of them. A lot of people loved it. Some were very offended by it. I had expected that.
What I hadn’t expected was a lot of readers becoming overly angry, telling me that I have no right to write about parenting teenagers, that I have no concept of what it’s like to parent teenagers, and that I have no right to judge parents who treat their children the way that girl’s parents treated her. Others insisted that the girl who wrote the letter was being dramatic, lying, and “typical” of all whiney, angry, teens. Others demanded that they had done everything right, given their teenager every possible advantage, and that even after doing so, their teenager still went off the deep end. Others adamantly foretold of an unalterable future, letting me know that one day I would say the same damaging things to my son, and that when that day comes I’ll be “eating my words” as I learn that more often than not, parents simply can’t control themselves.
Let me just ask you all. When is it time to evolve in our thinking? When is it time to admit that quite often, we all have an active or a passive part in the shit that goes on around us? When is it time to acknowledge that even after we’ve done our best, there might have been a different or a better way to do things? When do we each lay our crap out on the table and let the world become better by discussing it and scrutinizing it?
Why is it that people hoard their insecurities, their misdeeds, and their mistakes? Why do they feel such a need to place blame everywhere else? How is it that anyone can preach that they did it all correctly in any situation, especially when raising children? Has pride really consumed this world to such a degree? Has the need to feel validated really pushed people to the point where progression and self-improvement are nothing more than shadows of ideals that “real people” don’t actually push for?
When is it time to evolve in our thinking? When is it time to admit that certain things are just plain wrong? How do people feel that it’s okay to condone emotional or verbal abuse? How can anyone expect me, or anyone else, to honestly believe that it is okay under certain circumstances to call your child an idiot or a retard? How can anyone expect me, or anyone else, to honestly believe that it is okay under certain circumstances to tell your child she is God’s greatest mistake?
When is it time to evolve in our thinking? When is it time to stop shoving all people under one large blanket? When is it time to believe that every human being is individual? Is it not possible that this universal and God-given truth applies to teenagers as much as anyone else? When is it time to believe that not all teenagers are liars, not all teenagers are manipulators, and not all teenagers are confused? When is it time to validate the hurt of others, no matter the age? When is it time to let others have their much needed moments of pain, hurt, sadness and suffering without writing it all off for our own ego’s sakes?
When is it time to evolve in our thinking? When is it time we stop taking the discussion of chronic societal problems to places so personal that change no longer happens? When is it time that we zoom out and look at the broader discussion as a whole instead of being so zoomed in that we can only consider the discussion as it pertains to ourselves, to our own situations, and to our current moments in time? When do we see that it is this very act that causes us to dig in our heels, halt all progression, and fail more often than not? When is it time we realize that the admission of a greater problem existing does not excuse bad behavior, does not personally declare our own acts and deeds as malicious, but instead offers us all an exciting chance to contemplate our own selves? When is it time to say, “Oh my gosh, somebody else might be more right than me!”
The Worthless Teenagers post did not “take sides” of the teenage girl. To read that post and think there were “sides” at all is to miss the point entirely. It did not declare the girl to be an angel, and it didn’t even declare her to be right. It did not say she was without fault in her greater situation. It did not say that she was guiltless or that her own free will and agency hadn’t led to some of her life’s greater problems. What it did say was that it was inappropriate and wrong for parents to call names, demean, demand, and ultimately try to control everything in the lives of their teenagers. The ability for people to debate that at all is beyond me. I can’t understand that.
When is it time to evolve in our thinking? When is it time to look at the mirrors being held up to us and instead of getting angry, get motivated. Instead of getting offended, get more determined. Instead of feeling defeated, feel more dedicated to the ultimate victory that will be ours. Instead of seeing the admission of difference as hurtful, damaging, and impugning, see it as a moment to become better. Why are mirrors so scary for some people? Why do people feel that whatever they see right now is what ultimately defines them? Why do people not see what I and so many others see? A reflection of opportunity.
When is it time to evolve in our thinking? Do you believe that it is easy or even natural for me to believe what I believe and to write what I write here on Single Dad Laughing? Quite the opposite. I am a naturally hot-tempered man. I am a natural arguer. I am a natural hot-head meat-head bone-head. I am a naturally egotistic and often self-centered man. I also recognize that in all of those natural parts of me, there is a better way to be. There is a better way to think. There is a better way to behave. That’s why I write what I write.
Do you think I wrote The Disease Called Perfection because I found it so easy to live outside of the kind of pressure and demands that the world naturally places on each other? No! I wrote it because I was sad, hurting, and desperate to see some change in my own life. I wrote it because I needed to work through my own thoughts on it. I wrote it because I wanted to start holding myself accountable for the pressure of perfection that I myself dish out to others. Guess what, I’m still nowhere close to perfect at it, it still affects me in so many ways, and I still have to go read it from time to time to try and find motivation from it to change myself.
Do you think I wrote You just broke your child because I’m some perfect parent who loves to point fingers at non-perfect parents? No! I wrote it because my natural tendency as a parent is to not do a lot of those things. My natural tendency is often the wrong tendency, and I needed to write something to keep myself in check more than anyone else!
Do you think I wrote Worthless Women and the Men who Made Them because I am some saintly man who doesn’t look at the air-brushed models and the fake women around me, wanting them, desiring them, and demanding them? No! I wrote it because I struggle with it. I wrote it because I am often too shallow of a person. I wrote it because I didn’t like the way I thought (and still often think) and I wanted to hold myself up to a better standard!
I didn’t write Memoirs of a Bullied Kid because I knew all the answers for bullying, because I knew the power that comes from overcoming it, or because I considered myself an expert. I wrote it because there were some dark demons in my past that I needed to get rid of, and more than that, I needed to understand those demons. I wrote it because I knew my thinking needed to evolve when it came to bullying.
In fact, I didn’t write any of my strongly worded posts because I am such a good person, such a sound person, such a perfect person, or such an awesome person. I wrote them all from broken places, from broken feelings, and from broken thoughts. The same is true for the Worthless Teenagers post. The same will always be true for future posts.
It is time that we all evolve in our thinking. It is time that we all confront the shit of life head-on, together. It is time we all live to improve ourselves and our situations, knowing that it will not only make us happier and better off, it will make future generations happier and better off. It’s time we all stop tip-toeing around, walking on eggshells, and doing everything we can to be as diplomatic as possible. It’s time we stir things up a bit. It’s time we are a little less sensitive to each other’s feelings when it comes to all this. I mean, come on. It’s our kids and our grandkids we’re talking about.
I’m tired of this crap. I want my kids to grow up in a world that’s better. Not the same. Not worse. And it’s not going to happen until a lot more of us evolve in our thinking.
Dan Pearce, Single Dad Laughing
PS. I apologize for my foul mouth today.