Adaptability and Commitment

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how important it is that I raise kids who are capable of learning and change when it comes to adapting to a changing world and changing perspective in terms of social and political ideals. But how I also want them to understand the power of standing up for something you believe in steadfastly.

I always think to things like the “r-word” and how when I was younger that was a word we threw around casually and now the Special Olympics dedicates an entire day to end it’s use. What if I had been too stubborn to adapt to that change? Would I then risk raising kids who are unfamiliar with adults who can learn and change?

Example: My kids question things like gender reveal parties because they’re growing up thinking of gender as a binary and the old lady in me wants to roll my eyes at them and be like oh my god, kids are gendered at birth, I promise to embrace them if they choose a different identity but this is just a fact. But instead I try to be open to a world where we didn’t identify gender at birth and consider that with them so that they see me at least being open to this world they’re imagining in their heads. Where we all use “they/them” with a child until they’re old enough to request otherwise. If my kids see me adapting and learning to things they’re teaching me, will that help them learn to do the same if the situation calls for it?

I’ve been thinking of this a lot as it comes to divisive issues like gun control and abortion rights. There are people that are never going to change their stances to make ALL abortions illegal or to not restrict guy buying/owning in ANY capacity and I feel like that’s a flow, to hold a believe system so strongly it’s part of your identity and you feel like you can never change.

BUT I AM THAT PERSON IN MANY DEBATES. I am not willing to give up any of the limited freedoms to abortions that I had as soon as Roe v Wade made abortions legal. I will never become pro-Life. I will always believe gender is a social construct and that you should be able to choose what bathroom to use and what gender is on your driver’s license without invasive or costly surgeries. I think our criminal justice system is in major need of reform and I support major overhauls to our bail system and the 3-strikes requirements and I believe all of the systems are inherently racist as they’re all connected to the society structure that has been built to support and protect white supremacy. I believe we should be putting some sort of federal regulations in terms of packaging and what we allow to be sold in our country. Bottled drink packaging companies should be required to be using recycled plastics in order to boost our recycling industry and if they’re not willing to do that they should be taxed higher and those taxes should be put back into improvements in our recycling industry.

And I’m not going to be convinced otherwise on any of these issues and many other issues, honestly. AND MY KIDS KNOW THIS. And I want them to see my steadfast commitment to things that are important to me so that they’ll grow up finding their own causes to support and promote. It’s an important part of feeling like you are part of your community, to feel like a try citizen of a greater landscape, if you can fight for things that improve the place you call home in any perspective.

So, this is where the crux comes in. How do make sure I teach them to be open to learning and change while still showing them that having important causes and issues are also important? How do I explain the difference between me standing fast and strong for adding gender identities and sexuality to protected classes in terms of civil rights, and people who refuse to take action against climate change? How do I double check my own beliefs and stances to make sure I’ve not become so concerned with identifying myself in these ways that I become unable to change if needed?

I know it’s not a simple thing to concern myself with – but is anything simple anymore?

3 Comments

  • Olivia

    I think that the way you check your beliefs/stances is to just do your best to assess whether or not they are true and then don’t internalize or identify with any of it. It doesn’t make you a bad person to flop belief systems when presented with evidence that runs contrary to your current belief system. I think the only thing that makes sense to pursue is the truth, even if a confrontation with the truth radically changes who you are, even if it causes you to end or transform relationships, even if it is excrutiatingly painful and just about kills you and makes you question who you really are and why you’ve done anything you’ve ever done. When we identify with our beliefs, then it creates a painful guilt/shame cycle when faced with reality if we later discover that reality runs contrary to those beliefs. If we can forgive ourselves for being wrong, then we have the freedom to change and improve our lives without beating ourselves up for being wrong. I think you just do your best to be honest and open and accept and love yourself regardless of whether or not you changed your beliefs, then your kids are free to do the same. 🙂

  • Olivia

    To be honest, the most important thing is that you’re trying. You might get it wrong sometimes, but to be engaged, to vote, to protest, and share ideas and to stand for something, even if it might be wrong is so very courageous. Because there are plenty of people out there, who have not thought about these issues as thoroughly as you have, who have not really researched or considered the issues from all angles, and who may never be open enough to change their minds, and they are definitely voting.

  • Jennifer Westberg

    For me, the most important thing I have done is really listen to my kids. When they come to me and want to discuss an emerging belief they have, I really listen and don’t judge. It is not my job to police or influence their beliefs. A lot of the time that means saying, ” I see your perspective. I may not agree with you at this time, but I will keep that in mind as I continue to learn and examine my beliefs” And as they are much more socially liberal than I am, it happens a lot. But I completely respect that they will be their own person and have their own beliefs. YMMV.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *