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Home/Rod Dreher/Saving Your Child From The Village

Saving Your Child From The Village

Shamir, an agender man, is one of the people who wants to separate your kids from reality (InQueery screenshot)

A reader comments on the “Gender Identity And Your Kids” thread:

There’s a certain kind of conservative who looks at this trend [the corruption of fandom by gender ideology obsessives — RD] and says, “Good riddance. Unplug it all. Now your lazy nerd kids can spend all day at the gym lifting weights, or learn to play a musical instrument, and won’t be wasting time on the fandom of some media-marketed TV show or book series.”

I totally understand this impulse as a utopian ideal, but I also think there’s a horrible lack of appreciation for how difficult it is to raise kids in a world where they are uncomfortable with participating (or forbidden to participate) in popular franchise fan culture. My children are homeschooled and constantly desperate for more peer interaction. When they meet other kids at the park, or the roller skating rink, or on vacation, they are bombarded with aspects of pop culture from which they are being excluded — and they know it. Last month my brother passed along a collection of books and comics that my nephew was reading, and within a few weeks my 9-year-old came to us to confess that one of the books had “the f-word” in it. It ended up featuring a protagonist who was a pre-op transgender boy. At at this point I’m not even sure if her uncle gave it to her out of ignorance, or if he knew but did it anyway as a way to subvert our overly protective parenting style. I don’t have the heart to start a confrontation over it, given the cultural and ideological stress I have with my siblings already. Do you have any idea how wretched I feel that I can no longer trust my own brother as a screen for children’s literature content?

Right now my girls are super-enthusiastic about a book series… and I know they are just a few books away from the one that introduces a lesbian character. We started watching a TV show… and I already know which season has the gay wedding. Every new property (whether it’s original or the rebooting of a Gen X classic) is simply obligated to pay out a wokeness tax now. I’ll let my children watch this stuff with my supervision sometimes, when we can talk about it along the way. But I can’t let them enjoy unsupervised spaces with peers, certainly not in virtual spaces, since those peers are not going to exercise similar discretion. I essentially have to ban my kids from having friends unless those friends are very carefully vetted and supervised, and now I feel trapped in a helicopter-parenting Defcon-alert holding pattern.

It’s hard to exaggerate how besieged the current culture makes me feel as a parent of two daughters leaving elementary school age. I have unceasing dread of a giant industry devoted to prying my children away from my world, my culture, and my values, and to convince them that I’m the sociological equivalent of the stock villains being defeated weekly in their prepackaged media products. I want to give my children the freedom to explore and discover friends without oppressive surveillance, but all of the friends they meet want to create secretive phone-driven modes of contact with them for private conversations. Am I doomed to become a CIA operative, using spyware to catch my preteen daughter having illicit chats about testosterone and top surgery? Will I be the stereotypical killjoy parent, demanding that my girls stop seeing any friends I regard as “a bad influence”? I’m staring into an abyss that has swallowed so much of my world and the things in it that I once loved already, and has designs on my girls as well.

I’ve given up on having any kind of fandom myself, except of a few retro franchises that I can pretend are “closed”. But even that no longer feels safe. What’s LGBT representation going to look like in the new Tolkien-verse show on Amazon? After feeding that fandom for years, do I suddenly have to start telling my own children to avoid interacting with anyone who acts too enthusiastic about Middle Earth? Is there any safe ground left? Will they come for Narnia next?

This devouring of a formerly apolitical childhood and adolescent culture of organic fan enthusiasm to transform it into a catechism for woke cant is an act of unspeakable cruelty to families.

Well said. This is what totalitarianism means: the infiltration of politics (cultural and otherwise) into every aspect of life. In Huxley’s Brave New World, the Savage was the only sane person there because as an exile, he had been raised ignorant of the corrupt totalitarian culture and its values. I heard the other day about a family — a conservative Christian family — that has been devastated by gender ideology wreaking havoc in the lives of their children. It sneaked up on them. Catastrophe. I mean, honest-to-God destruction of young people’s bodies and souls, and of family relationships.

It used to be that it takes a village to save a child. Now, you have to work hard to save your child from the village.

UPDATE: Reader Todd responds to a commenter who said surely it’s not that bad:

I appreciate what you’re writing above, but honestly, you are completely wrong about this. I’m also GenX, and my daughter (born in 2000) sees this stuff day in and day out, since middle school. Honestly, almost all of her friends identify with some kind of “sexual” identity, and the really, really complex ones. I had to have her explain some of the words to me, like “A-rom/A-sex,” which apparently means “not interested in romance or sex,” or, basically, “I don’t want to date anyone right now.” The pressure is just insane. My daughter had a group of peers tell her she was “demisexual,” which I think means something like “won’t have sex without strong emotional attachment.” Like, waiting for sex until she’s married.

It’s really, really crazy for kids right now. I thought for a while that all of this was just “out there,” but I’m telling you, it’s everywhere for young people right now.

A good comment from reader KW:

If I could add one more thing: I think some people misunderstand the sort of concern I think this parent has (and I know that I have). At least in our case, it’s not that we don’t want our children to think gay, trans, etc. people don’t exist (if indeed gay people do still exist; all the kids seem to be bi…but I digress). It’s that we don’t want our child to feel compelled by contemporary cultural forces to parrot that, of course, a boy can be a girl or whatever cultural milestone “next” is about to be thrust upon us (and if you don’t think “multigenerational love” is at least one of the “nexts” to be shoved down our throats…now who’s being naive, Kay?). It’s not representation per se that’s the problem, it’s the insistence that we acknowledge every form of sexuality as a good thing.

And Reader CS:

If I’m picking up the vibe of the “I Have A Question” comment correctly, I think a lot of people like this commenter, who have no or lesser moral qualms about homosexuality, see such Christian concern and think it’s so weird. As if all these prude, bigoted Christians are afraid their children will become gay by TV osmosis or something. I suppose I can’t speak for all Christians, but for me, the reason I hate the gay indoctrination and don’t want my children exposed to it is that children’s minds are not developed enough for nuance. Explaining that homosexuality is a sin, but we all sin, and so while gay people may be wrong, they shouldn’t be judged for it, only their actions should be judged, and not by us, but by God, we should never judge, and oh, by the way, we live in a pluralistic society whereby not all members share the same beliefs, and of course, gay people don’t think what they are doing is sinful or wrong, and we should respect their beliefs, whether or not we agree with them, and so on and so forth. The kid stopped listening when he heard the word “sin,” which he doesn’t quite understand yet. Christians don’t want to communicate that message, and therefore, they would prefer to shield children from these sorts of questions until their children have the capacity to fully understand the nuance and how complicated things can be when morality, religion, ethics, and public policy collide.

The Left, of course, has it easy because they only want to communicate the black-and-white message that all things gay are wonderful and amazing. Both Christians and the Left understand that, when it comes to children, nuance has no chance against simple black-and-white. The simple message has got pole position. So the only alternative is to adopt a simple counter – i.e., that all things gay are bad and harmful. Most Christians don’t want to do this because they do actually believe that it is complicated – maybe not the fact of the sin itself, but rather the meaning of an isolated (even if persistent) sin in a world full of sin, including but not limited to those sins Christians commit on a daily basis and may not even see due to the planks they know are in their eyes.

But, yeah, no, it’s just that we fear the gays…. Makes it easier to hate us, I suppose.

about the author

Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. A veteran of three decades of magazine and newspaper journalism, he has also written three New York Times bestsellers—Live Not By Lies, The Benedict Option, and The Little Way of Ruthie Lemingas well as Crunchy Cons and How Dante Can Save Your Life. Dreher lives in Baton Rouge, La.

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