Why, yes, you ARE wrecking your kids
One of the wrecked kids, back when she was a little peanut.
Erin (Queen of Spain) wrote a post about getting criticized for letting her children dress themselves for school picture day:
This is important Erin, every family member will have these photos on their mantle or fridge. Don’t you want them to look…you know…normal?
I hate to tell Erin this, but those critics are right. She is wrecking her kids by letting them behave however they like.
We want them to express themselves and know they should feel pride for picking out what makes them…THEM. Not some watered down, matching, scratchy, uncomfy, looked like they stepped out of some catalog version of them their own parents wouldn’t even recognize.
Wrong, wrong, wrong. Erin, you’re doing your kids a disservice. They’re never going to fit in to decent society if you let your kids think that their individuality is important. Take a look around. Why do people absolutely freak out if a house is painted orange or purple or bright blue? Because those people don’t FIT IN.
Your primary job as a mother should be to train your children to go along and get along. Then they can make a good amount of money, not cause trouble and be admired by many. They won’t be kicked out of school or march in the streets or ask questions that will get them in trouble with authorities.
When I lived over in the Conejo Valley, I observed the phenomenon of executive wives and thought a lot about those people. These were stay-at-home wives of rich and powerful men, and they were remarkably uniform.
They had a style that was completely artificial, but had to appear natural. It also required huge amounts of time, energy and money to upkeep. First, no matter what their age or body type, they had to be thin. Bodacious curvacaceous women need not apply. They had to actually be very thin, the kind of thin that requires constant work and maintenance, and constant dietary restriction.
They had colored hair if they were at an age where grey might appear, but it had to look natural, not platinum blonde or copper red. Likewise with their makeup – it had to be perfect, but not look “done.”
And their clothing was the most restrictive, uncomfortable uniform ever. No flowy fabrics or obnoxiously bright prints. Everything had to be tailored, tight without being sexy, clean and pressed enough to look like it had never been used before, and expensive. Definitely high heels. No comfortable footwear.
At times, it felt a little eerie, a little Stepford-ish. I remember asking one of them a question as a reporter. She was gorgeous, in that way. Her teeth were blinding white, her hair a honeyed blonde, blown out to perfect smooth straightness. Her recently acquired breasts perched on her chest like perky, oversized cupcakes.
But when I asked her a question, panic flickered across her eyes. It was an simple opinion question about how traffic was around her kid’s school (terrible, by the way). She stammered, “I don’t…I can’t…” You see, having opinions was not part of her gig.
These executive wives have an agreement, and that goes like this – I will provide my husband with a picture-perfect partner. I will not stand out in any way. Any touches of individuality I have will be within a certain carefully defined framework. I will choose my look, my activities, my whole life, from a small selection of what is appropriate for someone of my station. I will never rock the boat. And for that, I will be richly rewarded with a lovely home, all of my material needs met, opportunities to educate my children, travel, club memberships – and if my husband tires of me, I will get a good divorce settlement.
Everything about her is an advertisement for the fact that she’s not going to be a speck of trouble to anyone. This is marketable. This is desirable. This is what most of the world wants and requires.
Meanwhile, her husband has made the same kind of agreements. He can wear plain or striped shirts, but not bold stripes or rainbow stripes or even plaid. He can advertise his commitment to fitting in by spending a huge pile of money on an expensive watch that performs exactly the same function as something that costs $19 at the corner chain pharmacy.
“Look how much I want to be one of you all – I could have spent that $6000 on something I actually wanted and that would be fun, but I dropped it on a status symbol, see – that’s how important this status is! You can be sure I won’t do anything to damage that. Please keep letting me be one of you.”
And it’s not just wealthy people. We all carve out our niches, have our “drag,” whether it is teacher drag or truck driver drag or biker drag. (Have you seen “Paris is Burning”? One of the most brilliant exposés of costuming and fitting in ever.)
We telegraph our status by our choices and when people don’t play by cultural norms, it can be very disturbing and threatening to others – witness the outrage when someone paints their house purple or lets their little boy wear nail polish.
So Erin, it’s true. I believe you are warping your kids. If you let them do what they want now, they will never learn the importance of hammering their malleable little selves into society’s molds so they can fit in.
If you aren’t careful, they’re going to become artists, question-askers, musicians, dreamers. And who wants THAT?