Empty Nester – Extraordinaire

creating, living, loving – all in a long black skirt

Posts Tagged ‘parenting’

Seeing is Believing

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February 16th, 2013 Posted 6:25 am

Out and about in Anderson, we’ll still run into people who recognize us from Wife Swap.  While that surprises me [Teen Mom is also filmed in Anderson and Amber could sit on me and I still couldn’t know her], I’m more surprised that they feel they know us from a 60 minute episode – 15 or so minutes that were devoted to commercials, and 20 or so that were spent with the other family.  This leaves 20-25 minutes of screen time to develop a complete view of total strangers.

Initially I had planned a series of blog posts describing the WS experience in detail, but it became monotonous.  “You saw X; Y is reality. The reason they misled you is Z.” I’ll still write them if there is interest, but I’m afraid it will come off as whiny, begging people to “Don’t judge us.” Truth is, we’re not afraid of being judged. At least for what is true. We do not like – as much as any other person – to be judged over gossip and assumptions.

“But,” you’ll say, “we saw you force your children to dance and we saw your son have long hair because you wouldn’t allow him to cut it.  We saw you drag your kids into situations where they would be made fun of. We saw you sitting on the sofa being lazy while your kids did all the work.”

Did you?


I know you saw Alek say we forced him to go to dance class. But, you didn’t see the discussion about how he didn’t like the alternate class the producers found for him when his real studio chose not to allow cameras inside.  He was concerned that showing him in class with his sisters – both younger and with less skill – would make him look bad. He did not appreciate that waste of time.  And he was very vocal about that on several occasions.

I know you saw Alek’s long hair and you heard his, “yeah!” when Stacy told him he’d be getting it cut.  Did you know he’d been growing it out for several years with the intent of donating it to Pantene’s Beautiful Lengths project? Did you know Rule Change  was his first realization that it was officially long enough to cut and donate?  And we’d made the offer to wait to cut it so it could be incorporated into rule change.

You were told we dress up the kids and parade them about town so that people will see them, judge them, and make fun of them and that we don’t care.  Did you know our kids dress how they want, within reason? Did you know we don’t change for other people because we live our lives for us and not for them? I had a great discussion with my swap husband, Ed, about this. It’s one of the things we strongly agreed on. Looks are important to both families. The main difference is that they dress to define themselves based on what other people think of their appearance and we dress to define ourselves based on what we think of our appearance. Did you know that one of the first things the producers did before filming was remove any bit of clothing that did not fit into the got aesthetic as they defined it?

You’ve been told I’m lazy and make my kids clean and feed themselves while I sit on the sofa playing on the computer. You even saw that, right? But you didn’t see the producers and directors scold me for pouring milk and sitting down to eat with my kids.  And it wasn’t made very clear that my job was freelance editing and that I run an at-home business from my laptop. In addition, helping them to be able and prepared is quite the opposite of lazy parenting.  I’d go so far as to suggest that doing everything for your kids is the lazier version of parenting.

No one would know that without talking to us.

And I’ll be honest. I watch Dance Moms and Survivor and I struggle to remember that what I see may be just as cleverly edited as our WS episode.  I know it. I lived it.  This reminds me to be more patient with people who don’t have the background I’ve been exposed to.

If there is something you want to know about, please just ask one of us.

We’d be happy to talk to you.


Spooky Mamas and Papas


January 13th, 2011 Posted 8:38 pm

I’ve been a ‘goth mama’ almost as long as I’ve been a mama.  My oldest son was born in April 1996 and my second son in March 1998.  My husband and I embraced the goth culture completely [after each having some flirtation with it throughout high school and college – he more than I] in the Summer of 1999. So for three years I was virtually normal and for 12 years, I’ve been dark and spooky.  I prefer it this way.

Recently, Jordan brought home a paper of anti-Goth paraphernalia he found at school, taped to the bottom of a desk.  “How to Tell if Your Teen is Goth“.  As it turns out, we’re all goth. As are most of our neighbors and friends.  The list cannot be taken seriously, but it does end with the warning:

If five or more of these apply to your child, please intervene immediately. The gothic culture is dangerous and Satan thrives within it. If any of these problems persist, enlist your child into your local mental health center.

A mental health center?  Insane advice, really. I wish it was the first time I’d heard it.

Not long after we openned Bats! meow…, we were contacted by a hate group: God Hates Goths. We initially tried to have civil conversations with the group members and their leader, intending to explain our belief structure and our philosophy on raising children.  As it turns out, they had no similar interests and most conversations resulted in name calling and more hateful lies.  I was redirected back to the site tonight as I did a Google search for the text of the paper Jordan found so I could provide you a link.  RG [as the leader identified himself] upped his advice and has published a new page, “De-Gothing Your Child.”  I caution you from the link as several of the methods suggested are nothing short of torture. 

Way back when, we were hit from every side, it seemed, with advice from strangers on how to be better parents. It seemed to focus on a change in wardrobe, hair, and makeup, as if wearing the ‘costume’ of a normal person would improve our skills.  This past week, searching for information has yielded few results. Either the world has become more accepting of freaks [and I do use the term lovingly] or the fad of reforming us has passed.  Either way, it’s okay by me.

I did find some links that may be of interest to you, though:

.:. An Article On Gothic Parenting, which warns that raising children to look ‘like us’ will create misfits and outcasts.  I understand his concerns, but I cannot agree. I’ve raised little goth children and have well-rounded popular kids.

.:. Gothic Liturgy, tells the story of a Christian Church catering to the dark clad youth in their community.  I wish I lived closer. I’d check it out.

.:. The Goth Mom, another blog run by another Goth Mama.  I’ll be checking in there regularly.

All parents don’t need to be identical, just as all children aren’t. The key is finding the mix that works for you.  We’ve found it.  Yes, it involves skulls and gargoyles, bats and spiders. We also end up with stuffed hippos and pink ballet bags, Black Eyed Peas CDs and Adam Sandler movies.  But that’s okay.  We’re happy and not afraid to tell our kids that we love them.

Hug your monsters. Everyday.  That matters more than the width of your eyeliner 🙂