Monday, April 9, 2012

Chapter 44: To Parents

“Ugly shoes”
“Why would you want to wear that?”
“Do you hate yourself so much that you have to dress like that?”
“Stop trying to draw attention to yourself”
“You only wear that to stand out”
“Just dress normally”
“Do as I say”
“Because I said so”
“You’ll wear this weather you like it or not”
“You make me sad when you don’t wear the clothes I bought you”
“You dress like a tramp”
“That makes you look like a little harlot”
“Black is bad”
“Goth is about sick, dark, things!”

Have you ever heard this or anything like it? Maybe you’re not a goth or maybe you don’t even associate yourself with a subculture. Maybe you do because it’s the ONLY way to describe yourself to people so they even remotely understand. Do you’re parents just not “get” you? This message is for parents, but kids, I’m going to say a few things to you first that I’ve noticed since I’m older than I was when I was a young, rebellious, teenager.
First, if your parents don’t beat you, have a drinking problem, a history of creepy violence, a criminal record, mental illness, or don’t starve you, tell you to clean your room, or have a fit when you get Ds in school, then trust me, they care about you. So why are they so mean? So misunderstanding? Well, if you’re not the oldest, then they’ve been down this road before and are wondering why they have to do it again. Have you ever had a dog? You got it when it was a puppy, trained it and then it died. Then you got another puppy! Suddenly, this puppy is peeing all over the house and chewing on your shoes and tracking mud into the house! Argh! Didn’t you just train a dog? Now you have to do it all over again. How annoying, right? Well guess what? Your parents have already raised a kid or 2 (or 4 in my case). They are getting old (though they will deny it) and are tired of teaching kids the same thing. Yes, they are supposed to be loving and everlastingly amazing, but they’re not. Just like you’re not. Take pity on them and understand this. And if you need to storm at them, DON’T. Do it where they can’t see you. And for heaven’s sake, don’t post it on the internet… You want to be treated like a grown up? Act like one! Depending on your age, that could be asking a lot.
Next, because your parents probably love you and care about you, they want you to stay away from all the creepy things they know. For my parents this is: Long hair, guys with earrings, tattoos, “scary looking” people and the like. A sad thing is that I ADORE long hair on guys. As long as it’s clean. So what do I do? I find out why they hate long hair. Easy, my parents were raised pretty conservative…in the 60s and 70s. The people with the long hair were NOT people you wanted your kids hanging out with. (Sorry, I’m a violence, drug, alcohol in excess hater). So I understand now. Does that change what I love? No. Can I change my parents? No. Figure out some middle ground if you have to.
 So parents, I’d really like to talk to you now that I’ve given Junior a bit of the picture. Let’s talk about what not to say to your kids. Most of them were in the opening of this essay.
Just give it up and be “normal”. Ok, let me go and get a personality nip-tuck so you’ll like me better. Because I must submit for you to love me. I must not be who I am or who I am trying to discover I am; I must be who you think I should be. Maybe I’m not really dark and melancholy? Maybe I glory in it too much? Just change. It’s not that easy. Don’t say anything to your kid that will make them question who they are.  I know that sounds far-out, but trust me, please. Be there to guide them, not control them. YOU raised them, right? You’ve already taught them how to think (brainwashed?)! Trust what yourself did in the past with this kid and let him think for himself now. Do it while he’s still young (ok, maybe 16) and he’ll learn more than you can ever shove down his throat. Let him crash and burn. BUT. Be there to help him up again when he asks. I’m not saying let your kids run around with drugs and prostitutes. No, if you did your job the first 14 or so years of this kid’s life, then you don’t have to worry about them doing that too much.
So let’s get to the heart of the matter now that we’ve covered basic child rearing. You have a goth child? I’m so happy for you! Please, don’t freak out! She’s a great kid, really. Wait…you don’t know what music she likes? Her closest friend’s names? What they do when they’re together? Uhh, do you know her shoe size? Favorite food? Book?
Ok, see, we have a bigger problem. I know it stinks and you hear it all the time, but get to know your kids! They will indeed go through the phase of “Ah, mum, don’t drop me off, can’t I ride with so-and-so?” Face it, dads, you’re not that cool anymore and you won’t be for a few years to come.  Unless you are one of those magic parents who manage to be awesome and cool, but then you don’t really need to be reading this do you? So, getting to know your kids. When they come home from a friend’s house, ask them what they did. Do this from the day they are born and don’t scream at them for doing stupid stuff (correct them, don’t yell) and they will more than likely always tell you what went on; you’re safe territory. They don’t fear what your reaction will be. Also, understand this: When kids ( I don’t know about boys so much, but we girls…) get to a certain age, there are things they won’t feel like telling. Maybe ever. Respect that. What was one thing you never told your mum? Just ask.
Now, one way to not to get to know you kid is by rifling through their room and journals. DO NOT DO THAT. I promise, you WILL find something that hurts or enrages you. If you are integrated into your kid’s life, you’ll be able to see when they are hiding something bad or harmful because there will be a change that you will notice because of how well acquainted with your child you are.
Alright, so we understand that you have to talk to your psycho kid to get to know them, right? What if they won’t listen? Maybe you and your kid are best friends, then she turns 14 and the next thing you know, she hates you, argues with you, won’t do anything you say and, oh, mother of pearl! She’s wearing black! Congrats, again. You now have an angsty, teenage gothling on your hands. Maybe you are one of the millions of parents who got dealt the shorter straw and your blessed sweetie will snap out of it in a few years. In the mean time, what I’m about to say applies to you too.
Rule number one: NEVER tell your kid it’s a phase. When you say this, they see the hope in your eyes and will do everything in their power to make it your worst years of child-care ever. On the flip side, it hurts a true gothling to hear a mother say, “You’ll grow out of it, hun,” when they really don’t feel any different and have simply discovered an outlet for the feelings they’ve had for as long as they can remember.

AN ASIDE: Let me just say right now, that all you know about goth is fake. Goths are not all satanic (some are, but some “normal” people are too, right? It’s not a fair or logical judgment), don’t think about suicide, and don’t want to drink blood or sacrifice animals in the woods. So get all those notions out of your head, because the only right one is that Goths wear mostly black.

So you have a goth kid now. Everything that I’ve already said still applies. You just get a few more spices thrown in. Good ones too, which I will try to be brief about.
Goths just like looking for beauty in strange places. We like things that others don’t and speak the language of coarse-joking and sarcasm well. This includes laughing our faces off at goth-jokes. They are funny, even to goths. Most Goths look whimsical and magical. You may have gotten us mixed up with our spike-wearing, gauged-ear, Mohawk brethren the Punks. Goths are far more elegant than that (we try any way. I have been sporting jeans and t-shirts with my hectic schedule). We listen to a variety of music (to each his own, just like “normal” people), have many likes (not every goth loves Tim Burton?? It’s true…), and think many ways. Goths are as varied as the grains of sand. We just have a different fashion sense. (Speaking of which, goth kids, buy clothes from the thrift store and make them up however you want. It’s cheaper and so much more fun! And no one else will have it!)
So, back to your gothling! Get to know them. Don’t ask them “Why do you like this?” because they’ve liked it for some time, they can just express it now. I, for example, have been a dramatic melancholy my whole life. However (listen up baby bats!), as I grew up, I also let myself laugh and now I am one of the bubbliest people my friends know. See? Goths are happy too! Those mopey little critters you see in the mall are still young. Give them some time to adjust.
Have you ever thought that you, as the parent, are to blame for excess mope at home? What would you do if your significant other said to you one day, “You know what? I hate your attitude and the way you’ve been acting. Oh, and those shoes and that outfit make you look fat and ugly” and then walked away. Yeah, that’s how your kids feel when you say things as simple as “Why do you have to wear that?” See why they might mope a bit when they’re around you? (Granted, girls, wearing skirts that don’t hide your butt and corsets that you’d pop out of if you jumped are not exactly OK to wear. More on that later.) If they are mopey and quiet around their friends too, maybe it’s a temporary front until they figure themselves out or maybe they just don’t talk as much.
 Alright, so you’re getting to know your kid. Good. You’re letting them make decisions because you did well the first few years and raised them well. Good.  You’re there to help them when they fall. Excellent. You are doing well.
So, here are some goth-perks now that you and your gothling are on the right track. Goths tend to be pretty smart and artistic. But I wanted my baby to be a doctor and or rocket scientist! Oh, go cry a river and build a bridge to get over it. If you encourage and help your kid while you have the chance, then she’ll be successful at whatever she does! Isn’t that weird? When you see your child of the night has a talent, help them develop it. Encourage them. Also, they tend to be smart. They may be hard to teach at first, but they will learn the value of knowledge faster than the average kid. This is something I’ve noticed and thought it was rather interesting. Goths also tend to be more tolerant than other people. But they are also very firm in their beliefs. This is a side-effect of raising your child well. Couple that with a goths passion and you have a kid firm in what he believes in. So yes, they are very tolerant, but they know who they are what they stand for. Trust them.
Another goth-perk that I have had great luck with (that other dads will love as well) is that being goth is rather…errmm…intimidating. I am 22 years old and have not had one date yet. Have I had a thousand and one offers, oh, lord yes. Millions. For some reason, guys are really drawn to goth girls, but some are put-off by them too! It’s actually no mystery why, but bat girls, watch yourself out there. The reason I have not gone off and gotten laid or even out to a movie is because I have worked hard on who I am, as my parents have, and I know what I need to do. I am career-driven and have a few good friends. That’s all I need. When it’s time for you to get a partner of interest, it will happen. Don’t go fishing though…ever. So, being goth seems to keep some guys at bay. How nice!
Now, a note for the gothlings out there: When you get older you will have to go to this thing called a job interview. Oh, lord, not those! I know, I know…but you know what’s awesome about being goth? The goth-look that you love so very much comes in professional clothes too! If you are a baby goth then you probably don’t believe me. But they do. You just have to find them and customize your own “office goth” look. It can be very fun and really flattering for the dude-goths out there.
So, parents, there you have it. There are good things to being a goth and it’s nothing to be scared of. Rather, fear not raising your child to the best of your abilities. THIS DOES NOT MEAN STOMPING THE GOTH OUT OF YOUR KID. Like I said, most kids are that way from day one, they just discover how to express it in a way they like later in life. That’s the best advice I can give. Get to know your child, teach them the way that they should go, and let them make decisions of their own.
Gothlings, my parents aren’t perfect either. I wrote this from experience. Most parents will never understand until they are secure in themselves. I understand you want to be loud and crazy with your clothes, but you need to understand that that scares the blood out of your mum and dad. Make up for it by being polite, respectful, and hard working. I PROMISE you that if you do this your parents will come around and trust you. It’s hard. I’m working on it now as well. I’m not there yet, but it’s my goal. Parents, when you see your kid trying, be genuinely pleased. Smothering them will only do what smothering does do: Kill. Don’t kill your kid’s passion and curiosity.
That’s all for today.  I have more to say, but that will come at a later date. I will also be talking about a very special kind of goth that doesn’t get much publicity these days. I hope this was helpful even though it was rather scattered. I tried to keep it neat, but failed.
See you next time, love and prayers,


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