Being a father, and simultaneously being clueless, I sometimes get a little disturbed about how I'm going to raise my kids to be the happy, healthy, smart, perfect little citizens I want them to be. I've found in many other areas in life that setting one's expectations low makes for delighted feelings of exceeding expectations later. So, that's a start. I'm fully expecting them to hate my guts, fail at all their social and academic endeavors, and be recalcitrant menaces. There. All set.
But I will feel responsible if I haven't done my darnedest to help them learn and grow. I know I'm the one who has to take the responsibility for teaching them about life. FoxyJ mentioned in a comment a while back that, "a lot of your attitudes and thoughts are going to come from a family setting" and that sounds perfectly true. So, what will I teach my kids about being gay? What will I teach them about using alcohol and tobacco? Caffeine? Pierced ears and tattoos?
In that same post, Samantha relayed a discussion with her laurel class about "the choice" of being gay. Apparently, in a discussion on "Personal Purity through Self-Discipline," one of the laurels said she hated it when kids at school said they were gay and acted in a certain way just to get attention. Samantha put to rest any speculation about what is and is not a choice about being gay and was waiting for fallout with parents. I don't know that any fallout ever came, but I can easily imagine the situation being that a teacher had given my children a biased and unfriendly view of gays without my knowledge. I would have no way of knowing the discussion took place unless I proactively taught such topics to my family myself. Three cheers for FHE.
But what will I teach?
I'm not sure I would have dealt as well with the situation in Samantha's laurel class as well as she did. My teenage niece one day made a comment similar to that laurel, and the ensuing discussion left me feeling confused. She had complained that she felt the gay kids at school who were out and proud of their sexuality and getting scholarships based on their sexual orientation and activism, were loudly obnoxious and belittling to her for her religious views. When children are recognized for a sexual orientation they didn't choose, rewarded for their activism on a moral topic we disagree with, I can understand feeling adversarial and victimized when they turn around and seem loudly intolerant back. And, dear niece, your sexual orientation, being straight and all, is nothing special.
I grew up knowing that smoking was evil. Tobacco was a filthy weed and alcohol was a pernicious nectar. And such a moral background served me well. I've never in my life had alcohol, tobacco, coffee or tea, and I'm doubtless better off for it. But, I also grew up thinking that those who did smoke were bad people. And that's regrettable.
How do I teach a sensitive morality sophisticated enough to distinguish between appropriate actions for us and appropriate actions for others? I'm not sure it can be done.
How will I teach the distinction between inclinations, feelings, and actions, when I'm not completely comfortable with the topic myself?