Here's a scary parenting thought: Let's say you're of a liberal mindset, politically speaking. What's the most terrifying thing you could discover hidden under your 15-year-old's mattress? (Besides a Santorum 2012 t-shirt.)
Give up? A copy of the magazine Conservative Teen, that's the most terrifying thing you could find in your kid's bedroom. In case you've never seen this one on the newsstands, the mag is basically exactly what it sounds like:
Articles with titles like "Why Abstinence Works" and "Hot Air & Cold Facts of Liberal Media Bias." Generic buttoned-up teen cover models who appear to be at the library, perhaps combing Scripture for anti-gay references. (Yes, this is a real magazine, and no, I'm not making these articles up.)
I know what my knee-jerk reaction would likely be:
What kind of trash is this? I raised you on hormone-free milk and The Daily Show! You should know better!
Or maybe you're a conservative parent. Maybe a discovery like this one would make you beam with pride. In that case, imagine finding a copy of Out magazine or a prescription for birth control.
Either way, this is what I'm wondering ...
How are we supposed to react, as parents, when our kids turn out to have a completely different set of beliefs from our own? Are we supposed to react at all?
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It's an incredibly difficult question to answer, especially when you look at it from both perspectives (parent and teen). I know personally how I felt when my devout Catholic mother freaked out because I stopped going to church: Annoyed. (Not to mention unmoved.) But I also know how I would feel if, in a few years, I found a copy of Conservative Teen in my daughter's room: Alarmed. And my instinct would probably be to tell her why, immediately.
In which case she would probably just get annoyed, and whoops! There goes history repeating itself again.
I guess the main thing is to NOT make our kids feel bad about whatever they've chosen to believe in (assuming they haven't joined some murderous cult or something). The only thing that comes of a parent shaming a kid for her individuality is a complete communication breakdown. Plus, that's usually when kids embrace whatever their "thing" is even more wholeheartedly in the hopes of proving us wrong.
All we can really do is stay true to ourselves as parents, be good listeners, and ... hope they come around?
What would you do if your kid liked Conservative Teen magazine?
Image via hulu/Aol