I watch my daughter in any social setting and am immediately amazed. In no less than 5 minutes she has five new friends and they play like they’ve known each other for years. It makes me wonder why we as adults may have a hard time making friends, fitting in, or feeling seen.
Can I walk up to a group of people in a social setting, introduce myself, and immediately feel like I have made new friends? No. No, I can’t. Hell, I can’t even talk to those with a larger following without being nervous that I’m gonna do something or say something wrong and make a fool of myself.
I will definitely attribute this to the amount of bullying I received as a child; I never had the newest things, I was the nerdy kid with glasses who would rather read a book, and then I was the kid who gained weight and got called names.
I never really made the conscious decision on how I wanted to bring my daughter up in the world. I did ask myself what values I find important, what she will need to understand, and what the world needs.
- What values do I want to instill in her?
- What is important for her to know in life?
- What are acceptable behaviors in public and at home?
- How do I teach her discernment and critical thinking skills in a healthy setting?
- How do I make sure she has the ability to make healthy decisions for herself in a safe capacity?
- How can I make sure she has the space to share her feelings, even if they’re not positive toward me, her dad, or our decisions, in a safe and healthy manner?
- And how do I make sure she creates space to listen to the concerns of others?
All of these questions are things I think about when making decisions about my daughter’s well-being and life but they’re also questions I think about in creating community. There are a lot of different opinions in any occult community, a lot of different practices, and many ways of doing things. There are also a lot of issues and difficult conversations that need to be had but in ways that are productive rather than arguing just to argue.
There is a lot to say about acting with respect, humility, and kindness. How would we expect our children to behave when we find out that they’ve done something hurtful to someone else? What sort of standards do we hold our children to? We ask them to behave with kindness and respect, to listen and learn from those with more experience, and to learn to say the magic words, “Please, Thank You, and I’m sorry”. We give our children the capacity to make safe mistakes and then learn from them, yet we don’t always hold ourselves and our communities to the same standards.
When I make a mistake it can feel like the end of the world. Why? Why does making a mistake make me so afraid and anxious? Is it because of some shadow I have that needs work? Some deep-seated issue stemming from a childhood of bullying and “doing the wrong thing”? Sure, that’s a possibility. The other thing? Our communities are quick to vilify those that have made mistakes and learned from them, holding ourselves to impossible standards.
Watching my child always leads me to think of how raising children parallels with how I view my “ideal” community, if there ever was such a thing. A place where we learn and grow together, no matter our colors, sexes, or identities. A place where we respect the voices of people of color, of Indigenous groups around the world, and those who have ideas and concerns to share.
This is my dream. This is my hope for the future.
This post brought to you by a two-hour car ride where I had nothing to do but sit and think.