Saturday, March 23, 2013

A Response To Classist Attitudes

   I was reading an article that I found online about a mother who felt she should pick her child's playmates because of how they lived and who their family was. She felt that this was not classist behavior, because she felt she was looking out for her child's safety. Now, this is a fine line to walk, because we all want to keep our children safe and sheltered. There isn't anything wrong with wanting to be sure your kids are safe. However, was this classist? I couldn't help but feel that some of what she said was classist, and certainly some of the comments to her article were.
   I've been thinking about this article for about four days now. Some of the things that I read just bothered me; the fact that so many people seemed to agree with her bothered me even more, so I'm going to state my own opinion about who you should and shouldn't let your kids be friends with.
   Personally, I feel that there are NO children that you should ban your child from playing with based on trivial things like money and family and where they live. If the child in question lives in an unsafe environment, then maybe you should veto overnights and play dates from that home, but that doesn't mean that the child couldn't come to your home. That doesn't mean that your child shouldn't play with that child on the playground or talk to them at school or call them on the phone. The parents might be total cesspools, but what part of that is the child's responsibility? What part of that can the child control? To me, this is a classic case of victim blame. And think: there is a chance that you could be a good influence, and good role model for that child. A lot of good people started out in bad homes; don't be so quick to write them off.
   One of the issues that was brought up wasn't even the possible bad influence, or danger that to your own child; one of the issues was the possibility of bugs. Now, lice scare the hell out of me, but the fact is, you can catch lice from anybody. A clean person can have lice just as easily as a dirty one, even more so, because one of the ways of getting rid of lice is to grease up your hair. Lice thrive better in clean hair; grease smothers them. My own daughter has had lice, and she didn't catch is from an unclean, unsafe environment; she caught them from a daycare. Lice are immortal bugs, hell to get rid of, and I understand the fear of exposure, but tie your kid's hair up when they go out, and keep your fingers crossed. Or else make them grow up in a bubble. Your choice, I guess.
   One of the other issues that was brought up was that some mothers felt that their kids shouldn't play with kids whose families were on welfare or whose siblings had different fathers. That is utterly, hopelessly, unarguably classist. Sorry, if you share those views; you are classist. Don't kid yourself. And this is the thing that really made me blow up, because I have been on government assistance. I'm off all assistance now, but once I was one of those struggling, single welfare moms; I did what I had to in order to keep my daughter fed. And if, God forbid, I ever do have another child, that child will not have the same father. There is no way in any kind of Hell that I will ever procreate with the man who fathered my daughter again. And my daughter and I, we are not bad people. We still live under the poverty line, but we are good, hardworking people who care about our family and friends. Our economic status has nothing to do with our morals and our ethics. I know so many great mothers and fathers who have been down on their luck and are on food assistance and medical assistance and childcare assistance, and if you don't want to have your child associate with us, this is your child's loss, and believe me or not, your child is losing something.
   What type of lessons are you teaching your child with this attitude? They are going to have a fair amount of trouble when they go out into the real world and realize that people are diverse. And they are going to have to figure out how to work with people who are not the same as them. They are going to have to respect other's views, beliefs, backgrounds, and cultures. How do you think your child will fare with this if this is not something you have taught in the home? The real world is going to be a rude wake-up call for them. And how do you think your child will fare against a child like mine: who has been taught to respect and get along with people since her birth? How do you think colleges, employers, and new acquaintances will view them? Who do you think will be more socially acceptable; someone who knows that every person has value, or someone who has been raised to think that only a certain type of person has value?
   The economy now is hard to survive in; I don't know what the economy will be like in the years when our children are trying to build their own lives. But the foundation that you give your child will have an impact on whatever they manage to do. This foundation can make their lives harder, or can make their lives easier. Myself, I want to give my child every advantage possible, and to me, that means making sure that she knows how to accept and value people for who they are, not who you think they should be. 

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