Welcome to the March 2013 Authentic Parenting Blog Carnival: Self-Expression and Conformity
This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Authentic Parenting Blog Carnival hosted by Authentic Parenting and Living Peacefully with Children. This month our participants have written about authenticity through self-expression. We hope you enjoy this month’s posts and consider joining us next month when we share about Peaceful Parenting Applied.
In high school I was one of the weird kids – my hair was dyed funny colours, I shaved my head for a period of time, I had piercings, and I definitely wore ‘strange’ clothes. I was also a straight A student who never skipped a class and didn’t party/drink/do drugs. I took a lot of flack from adults about what kind of person I must be, based solely on the way I looked. There are lessons about not judging a book by it’s cover, about recognizing that other people might judge you based on what they consider important, or about having to work harder to overcome other’s biases (which is unfortunate).
The real lesson for me was that you are who you are and hiding that just doesn’t work.
So if our son wants to dye his hair or have strange hair cuts or piercings or wear odd clothes – that is totally okay with us.
After a sentence that basically says that we don’t have a lot of boundaries when it comes to appearances, it feels strange to say that we do have one giant boundary – no tattoos until you’re 18.
Papa and I are both heavily and visibly tattooed. There’s a double standard – it’s okay for us, but not okay for you… yet. It’s the yet that’s important.
There’s a really, really practical reason behind an age related tattoo boundary which is that teens are still growing. Their skin is still growing, which means that if they get tattooed those tattoos won’t hold up as well. Think of drawing on a piece of saran wrap – when it’s sitting on the counter it looks fine. If you were to pick it up and stretch it the image will distort, the colours will change, and it won’t look as good.
I don’t care if you get tattooed little man. I just want to make sure that you get tattooed well if you want to. That’s why you have to wait. (It also means that we hope to instill an appreciation of good quality, custom tattoo work. It may cost more, but it is definitely worth it!)
In having this discussion with my partner, one thing that became clear for me is that I’m not concerned about ‘judgment’ and ‘regret’. There are many decisions that we make every day and you can regret the outcomes whether it’s on your skin or just in your head. Tattoos capture a point in time in your life. Even as you continue to evolve and change, your past is still your past and part of who you are. And that’s okay.
Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:
(This list will be live and updated by afternoon March 29 with all the carnival links.)
- No Tattoos! (yet) – Jana Falls at Jananas is okay with tattoos. You just have to wait until you’re 18.
- The Chains of Conformity -Destany at They are All of Me writes about teaching her children to be true to their own authenticity and… screw conformity, it’s for sheep.
- Supporting Self-Expression in Children – At Living Peacefully with Children, Mandy encourages her children to be themselves and express themselves accordingly.
- Encouraging Good Examples -Amy W. at Me, Mothering, and Making it All Work encourages her spirited preschooler to choose good examples to copy in order to discourage inappropriate learned behaviors.
- Supporting Your Child’s Self Expression – Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama discusses how she support’s her daughter’s desire to be herself despite objections from Rasta Daddy.
- Can a “good” child be noncompliant? – Lauren at Hobo Mama has a sweet-natured child who is anything but obedient. She likes him just fine, but his grandmother’s not sure what to make of him.
- In Crowd or Outcast, March to Your Own Beat – Jorje of Momma Jorje compares some of the odd fashions of her own youth to some of the crazy stuff kids, and her teen in particular, are doing these
- Their bodies are their own – At Authentic Parenting, Laura questions society’s claims on children.