October 25, 2009

Massive Assertions About Child-Rearing

I've wanted children my whole life. Not right now, but sometime in the future. Because kids are theoretically part of my future plans, I have thought a bit about how to raise them. Of course, what always gets to me is that I can't plan anything (not their names, their rights or passage or anything big) without knowing who their father is. This isn't just because their father might have an opinion about about these things. It's because their father brings half of their heritage, and at least half of their last night, to the table (Maybe more. I don't think I want to hyphenate my children's names if it leads to something too long, which it likely will). Why does their father potentially change the game so much? Because. I think children should be raised to identify most strongly with the part of their heritage for which they are most likely to be discriminated against.

When kids are, for example, part WASP, part Jewish, but are raised to self-identify as WASPS and entirely in WASP traditions, the minute they hear an anti-semitic remark, I feel like they'll be confused. I actually think that, the less investment these hypothetical children have in Judaism, the more likely they are to be more strongly affected by anti-semitic remarks. After all, they haven't been raised to have pride in Judaism or to be familiar with its strong traditions, this hypothetical kid is more likely to believe these anti-semitic comments, because her parents have not raised her to respect Judaism in her own life. Perhaps she might think her parents raised her not to identify with Judaism because it's something negative that one SHOULDN'T identify with. This, however, doesn't change the fact that this child still knows she has Jewish heritage inside herself, so if anything, I feel like she is likely to become self-loathing because she embodies something she sees as a shameful attribute.

Kids are often going to be discriminated against because the world just plain sucks, so raise them to think that the part(s) of their heritage they are most likely to be discriminated against for are parts they take pride in. Fortify your kids against discrimination by helping them realize their heritage is something to take pride in.

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