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My Mother the Conservative

July 7, 2010

OK, so I’m really not old enough to remember the show, “My Mother the Car.” But the title stuck with me as I mentally re-hashed something that happened today. I really processed it on a gut-level, and I’m still not completely sure that blogging it is the best idea ever. But, I’m honest about who I am as a parent, and writing about it chronicles my journey as a parent and provides a “snapshot in time” as to who I am at a given moment, as well as providing a sort of trail that I can look back on, later, and hopefully see growth.

Most folks know I homeschool my three children. Today, my oldest had a team meeting for the summer robotics league he is in. There’s a really nice park across the street from the private home where his team meets. So, while my oldest was with his group, I took his two younger siblings to the park for a bit.

Both are friendly, outgoing kids, and in no time at all, each had buddied up to some of the kids playing. My daughter struck up a friendship with a little girl roughly the same age as she. This little girl was also clearly of the same or similar ethnicity (bi-racial or Black). I’m not big on racial descriptors all willy nilly, but in this case, it’s a necessary distinction.

As it drew time for us to leave, the little girl asked if my daughter would be coming back tomorrow. My daughter explained that we live pretty far away from the park, and only come when her brother has his meetings. It was clear from several questions that the girls really wanted to play again, so I had the brilliant idea of sharing my daughter’s e-mail address (one that is filtered through my e-mail address for her protection). I started rooting around in my ginormous “boat-purse” (think Love Shack by the B-52s: “It’s as big as a whale and it’s about to set sail!”) for a pen and some paper.

Well, shockingly, I found a pen, which almost never happens, because my kids borrow them during church and I rarely get them back! But something to write on was proving to be a little harder to find. Then, I realized I had my African-American Conservatives business cards on me.

But…..I didn’t want to use one. At all. Period.

I really had to think about that. Why did I feel that way? I am not the least bit ashamed of my conservative values or what I do, as a conservative talk radio show host. So why the hesitation?

Well, I had just been interviewed earlier in the day by Melody Scalley, for her show. We had been talking about the media double standard, and the backlash against conservatives. I realized that my hesitancy had nothing to do with what I believe, because I am very proud of my Christianity, and very proud of my conservatism! But it did have everything to do with my daughter; my love for my child. I got into this, as has been well noted here and elsewhere, because of my children, so that I could model lawful and appropriate dissent for them! But, at the same time, I thought: ‘Okay, I’m in the minority (no pun intended) within my community. What if this family, like most in our community, isn’t conservative? Are they going to judge my kid based on that? Would they put the kibosh on this budding friendship because of some ‘crazy, wacko, tea-loving extremist?'”

And, I wimped out. For my kid’s sake, I found a scrap of something else to write on.

As I processed this incident later, and thought about it, I kept coming back to the fact that I’m an adult. I make informed choices everyday, for myself, and for my kids, based on life experience, my beliefs, and my value system: my religious convictions. But that’s me! I’m fully baked. All grown up. I can deal (usually!) with the criticisms lobbed at me. I can deal with what people think of me, or dismiss what they think entirely, depending upon who the person is.

But my children are different.

As I’ve said before, as parents we do provide the first worldview our children have. We infuse them or indoctrinate them or whatever you want to call it, but we do it. Whether it’s our spirituality (or lack thereof), environmentally, or socially, we impart our beliefs and our mores upon our children, until they are able to craft a worldview that is all their own.

So, clearly, I’ve passed something on to my children. And, I am exceptionally proud of what I have passed along to them, and what I believe in. At the same time, we live in a society that doesn’t always embrace what we believe. In fact, it can be downright hostile toward our ideology. I won’t back down from what I believe, but by the same token, I am wary of having my children painted with the same broad (and erroneous) brush.

I don’t think that’s “crazy wacko tea-loving extremist” parenting. I think all parents want their children to be accepted. And society doesn’t always accept everyone. As I said to Melody today, people love to be able to label as a way of wrapping their minds around something, or as a way to distance or marginalize that which it can’t, or won’t, understand. Or simply as a way of trying to impose a superiority of sorts on one another. We do it all the time, consciously or sub-consciously. And, today, Mama just didn’t want to deal with “playground politics.” I just wanted two little girls to be friends.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. July 8, 2010 6:57 am

    I know where you’re coming from, and I understand completely. We need to protect our children, as we can’t always be with them all the time, and it’s unfortunate, but these days, some people have no scruples about using children to hurt their parents. I’ve read about lefty parents in Massachusetts influencing even their little kids to target the little children of conservative parents who have spoken up for enforcement of parental notification laws when it comes to changes in sex ed content taught in kindergarten and other early grades.

    I look at it as it being best to allow children and parents to get to know my children and me as people, before letting politics enter the mix. Not that that in itself provides any guarantee, but I believe it’s best to take things slow. Don’t knock yourself, your gut instinct is there for a reason. BTW, I smiled regarding the reference to My Mother the Car. I’m too young to have seen the show, but I’ve had it pop into my head as a reference more times than I care to remember. 🙂

    • July 8, 2010 7:02 am

      M, thank you. And you are so right. This is the *exact* conversation hubby & I had last night. You just have to let things evolve before you get to personal things like religion & politics. Let people get to know you as a person, and your light will shine. Thanks for chiming in!

  2. Selena Owens permalink
    July 9, 2010 2:43 pm

    Hey Marie,

    I concur with your decision. I know how it feels to just want life to be simple once in a while, and for the most innocent of things not to become marginalized. Believe me, it won’t be long before your children will have to take a stance and make decisions based on their beliefs apart from your intervention. And you won’t have anything to worry about b/c they will reflect your values and stand for truth. God knows when such timing is best or necessary. Hopefully, the girls got together for a time of fellowship.

    But here’s a funny story that happened to me (I was not present–my children relayed what happened): When our children were very young, they attended public school in Tulsa. It was October and the chorus teacher was teaching songs to all the grades. Well, Bethany, who was five years old at the time, refused to sing Halloween songs. She told the teacher, “I will sit over there (pointing to bleachers) and sing to God, not to the witch!!” The teacher was perturbed but Bethany would not budge. She took a seat and sang church songs. Next period, my daughter, Tiffany, age seven, came into the chorus class and also told the teacher that she was not comfortable singing songs to ghosts because it wasn’t the Holy Ghost! Well, later that afternoon, our son, Ryan, age nine, joined his class for chorus and as soon as the teacher recognized his last name, told him to go sit in the bleachers because she knew he wouldn’t sing the songs! He didn’t have a clue as to why she said that (although he admitted that he wasn’t going to sing the songs). It wasn’t until they all arrived home and shared their experiences that we were able to figure out what happened. “Out of the mouth of babes…” (We resumed homeschooling the next week! lol!)

    • July 9, 2010 2:47 pm

      Thanks *so* much for sharing, Selena! That’s *exactly* how my kids are! Isn’t it great when you see them take a stand? 🙂

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