I try not to let guilt take up too much space in my emotional closet, but this is quite a challenge as I’m raising my kids. I’ve done no less than 100 things that I said I’d never do. The real world of parenting threw me into a reality that I wasn’t prepared for due to my idealism, ignorance and inexperience. I can tell you that I do NOT feel guilty about taking my kids to Hooters for dinner.
I confess that I was sheltered as a child. I was raised by parents who successfully protected me from the harsh realities of real life. So much so, that when I went to college, I barely made it a semester before I had to return to the nest for a year to “recover” from reality. I became convinced that bringing children into the world was cruel. The world overwhelmed me. Obviously I got over this, grew up, and changed my mind.
When my firstborn was a toddler, I decided to commit myself to two things. The first thing I decided to do was to relax. I had to stop worrying about every little thing and to be the kind of parent who would try to guide, instead of try to control. The second thing was to make sure that I raised well-rounded human beings who I would guide through life’s realities without sheltering them or lying to them about the harshness or unpleasantness in life.
We read, watch television, follow the news and take every opportunity to discuss things like friends, school, family, war, sex, politics, and whatever else comes up. I sometimes struggle to find an age appropriate way to answer questions or explain concepts. Sometimes I need some time to think before we discuss tough topics. They know that eventually I’ll come back to them prepared.
I also decided that shame would have no place in our home. I want them to feel bad when they act like jerks, but I never want them to feel ashamed of their thoughts, feelings or behavior. The drive to feel good and understand our sexuality is completely normal and starts early. Sex makes life. Sex is natural, normal, healthy and necessary. Sex and sexuality cannot be avoided, therefore it must be acknowledged and discussed regularly with growing kids in order to help them better understand themselves and the world around them. Kids understand so much more than most of us give them credit for and a developing a healthy sexual identity is truly key to having successful relationships in life.
All relationships? Yes. All relationships hinge on our underlying acceptance of ourselves and this includes our sexual identity. The world is a fascinating place filled with endless information and experiences. This week we had a family dinner at Hooters in Joliet where we enjoyed great food, good service (thanks Renee) and a lot of laughs. We go there a lot. My kids will eventually form their own opinions about the idea/concept behind Hooters. I think that the beautiful women who work at Hooters should be commended for their hard work, high tolerance to rude and judgmental people who in my opinion are merely jealous of their fit bodies and obvious comfort with their sexuality. YOU GO GIRLS!
Feel free to disagree. My decision to post what I find to be a hilarious picture of my daughter in her “Future Hooters Girl,” t-shirt on my Facebook fan page was met with some serious hostility and angry judgments. I suppose I should have expected as much, but I didn’t. My daughter happens to be quite clever, successful academically and genetically gifted in the looks department (she takes after her father). I won’t ever lie to her by telling her that looks aren’t important or that her sexuality and attractiveness are something to be ashamed of. I’ve decided to attempt to give her healthy and balanced introductions to the different types of choices that she will be able to make as she grows into a woman. She can be whatever she wants to be.
Are our dinners at Hooters part of this education? This wasn’t the plan, but you know that life is what happens when you are busy making other plans. I plan to keep exposing my children to as many different types of ideas, people, lifestyles, religions, and concepts as humanly possible. When they are old enough to start taking this general fund of knowledge and making decisions about how to apply this knowledge to their own lives, I will be able to confidently say that I did the best job that I possibly could to prepare them to be generous, kind, accepting and educated citizens of the world.
This preparation includes the FACT that sexuality is a huge part of life and is only more so as kids grow. In our family, we include enjoying regular family dinners at a loved restaurant where the friendly smiles, familiar sights, smells and excellent service make for a happy memory, as part of this preparation. I LOVE YOU HOOTERS IN JOLIET. I wish you had gluten free fried pickles, but I still looooooooove you.
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