The Fear Questions

“What would you do if your daughter got pregnant as a teenager?” This was the question I got in some religio-political debate that I probably should have strayed away from. Debates over strongly held beliefs are usually arguments at best and no one is really looking for honest debate, only an edge to prove they have the best opinion. But the question is very similar to a lot of questions I get as a father of four girls. The intent is for me to consider what I want for my children but something is off. I struggle to wrap my mind around what really bugs me about those types of questions but I think it is this:

A quote from Jim Carey that I am sure he borrowed from somewhere else, “Everything we do is motivated by one of two things; fear or love. We run because we are afraid. We stand and fight because we love.” How relevant is that? For me it resonated.

We are breaking our society down through doctrines of fear, legislation of fear, and trying to control our children through fear. I try to make fear/love my filter. When I give my opinions away to my children, I try to choose love.
They ask questions that seem scary at first. “What makes girls different from boys?” “Where do babies come from?” “What does being gay mean?”

Holy shit. I didn’t want a philosophy debate I just wanted a kid who looks like me and does fun stuff. How do you answer these questions?

Let’s take the easy one first. How are boys different from girls? Easy answer: boys have a penis and girls have a vagina. Raise your hand if that was uncomfortable to read. Fear makes us not want to say those words aloud and especially not around children or, God forbid, directly to a child. What kind of sick puppy talks about penis’ to his five year old girl? But they need to know those things exist. They need to know proper names at some point. Honey Boo Boo called hers a “biscuit” on national TV and I’m pretty sure that makes for an awkward breakfast order at McDonald’s. I would make a joke about biscuits and gravy but the thought of Mama June just ruins it for me.

What about where babies come from? Fear tells us that the sooner children learn about sex the sooner they will do it. We avoid any uncomfortable sexual references for a direct fear that it will fast-track our children straight to a greasy brass pole in a seedy club. But they need to know sex has a purpose because it will be sold as enjoyment and pure carnal pleasure at every corner. Even kids shows have a sexual undertone these days. I’m surprised my box of Frosted Flakes doesn’t show Tony mounting a hot female tiger while enjoying a big ol’ spoonful of yummy goodness. Her tail in one hand and a spoon in the other. “They’re grrrrreat!” (Note to Kellogg’s: If you decide to go with this idea then just email me to arrange royalty payments, thanks!)

What about the other fun questions? Sexual orientation, gender confusion, gender bias, race, religion, creed, deciding on Ford vs Chevy when we all know that Honda Odyssey wins the day. What type of jelly should go on a PB&J? I prefer grape and my wife chooses strawberry. Never mind that some companies make premixed PB&J in a squeeze bottle and they obviously use grape, that debate is still ongoing in our household.

Fear has a lot to say on these subjects and the best way to spot fear is to listen to how a question is presented.

“How would you feel if your daughter was _______?”
“What would you do if your daughter dated ________?”
“What will you do if your daughter decides to ________?”

I’m glad these people are worried about my wellbeing and mental status but the questions are weird if you think about it. Someone is asking you how you feel about something that is ultimately going to be none of your business. I am not my children. They do not represent me. They are independent people capable of thought. People who ask these questions are trying to bring emotion to a logic party. If you make it your business it will only speed up the process. If my daughter is straight or gay, that is her business, not mine. I didn’t hand out pamphlets either way. I want them to be happy.

If my daughter dates a little green Martian, that is her choice to make. I’m not moving to Mars and I hope they don’t either but I’m not going to be provider/protector forever so they need to find someone who will love and support them in life. Dad’s get the role of protecting the innocence of their children which is good to a point. Where it gets creepy for me is when it feels like dads are trying to be pimps for their children, deciding who is worthy for potential procreation. We have to let that idea go. If they can find genuine, hardworking, and respectful I can support that. My job is to show what that looks like.
The most interesting thing about the fear based questions is that the person who asks them is showing their own fears. They feel vulnerable and maybe even question their own opinions. We get beaten down with opinions all our life and when it comes time to pass them along we try to maintain opinions from our parents and grandparents. To get that validation that we are good at parenting too and we have passed the torch. We fear being judged otherwise. What we should really fear is withholding the truth from children who learn it faster and faster every day. Because one day they will need a straight answer and they will need to know you answer out of love. Fear can only hold off truth for a little while but love is undeniable.

So if you don’t let your little boy play with a doll because someone might make fun of him, you need to hit pause and think. You are the first in the judgment line by telling him he is wrong for feeling that way. No doll ever made a kid anything except better at communication. The person who is supposed to be the protector is the first attack and the deepest wound. For people who insist on telling your daughter to find a man with a good paying job, you are telling her that she isn’t worth much on her own and she better find a life raft because you are scared she can’t swim. This post is for you. We all need to work a little harder to choose love. In life or online, it will make us happier in the long run. You’re welcome.

-Underdaddy to the rescue.