I’ve been a liberal all my life. I have not been encouraged to be a liberal all my life. I was raised in a conservative family. My father was a Baptist preacher. Everyone around me was conservative. They hated gays. They hated government assistance, even when half of them were on it. They hated pregnant teens, single mothers, and divorced parents. I don’t keep in contact with much of any of them anymore, but I’d bet my last dollar that 99.9% of them voted for Donald Trump. I was a black sheep. I didn’t care. Even as a child, I knew I was different, and I knew I was right.
Even when I wasn’t allowed to have a voice, and even when my views and beliefs were always being compared to those around me, I stuck to my guns. I never faltered. I was never encouraged either. I was hushed. I was frowned upon and preached at in the hopes that I wouldn’t turn into the dirty liberal that I became. I was told how wrong I was. I was lectured. I was pointed at. I was shunned. As I got older, people wouldn’t let their kids hang out with me because of the “way I was.” I needed Jesus, so therefore I didn’t need any friends. I was a disappointment to my father and his congregation. I was an embarrassment. I gave zero fucks.
I knew that I would be different than my parents when it came to raising any children I might have. I would never put them in a position where they had to wonder which side was the right side. I would never make them feel like they were wrong or shameful for showing compassion and understanding. I would never let them feel like an embarrassment to the family. Instead, I would encourage their fire and passion. I wanted to give them the platform that I never had, so they could be loud, proud, and open with what they believed.
I now have a four year old daughter. I’ve strived to raise her as a free-thinking, compassionate individual. We have frequent discussions about loving one another, about treating every human being equally. I encourage her at every opportunity to think for herself; to form her own thoughts and opinions on the things around her. I’ve raised her to be strong-willed and stubborn, and to never back down from something that she believes in, even if that’s caused me to pull my own hair out once or twice.
“There’s never a good time to tell your child that the world is brimming with hate.”
These have always been the normal lessons in my household. It’s simply the path which we chose to raise her on. But on inauguration day, I was forced to stop and really consider what all of this meant. I was left with no choice but to sit down and really decide how I was going to raise this child. What beliefs would I instill in her?
You’re taught that the president deserves the utmost of respect, yet how could I encourage her to respect and revere someone that stood for the exact opposite of what I’ve been trying to teach her these last four years? How could I possibly tell her that while SHE should ALWAYS love and respect all of her fellow humans, our president was somehow exempt from this rule?
Now, more than ever, it was crucial that I pushed that strong will; that I encouraged that hardheadedness and unwillingness to back down. It was now that I had to teach her that sometimes, power does not always equate respect. That even when the world is stacked against you, you stand for what is right, and you stand against anyone that is trying to take that from you—even if that person is the president of the United States.
That’s a hard pill to swallow. That’s a difficult lesson to teach your child. You want your kids to play in the dirt. You want them to learn their ABC’s and their shapes and colors. You want their biggest worry to be keeping their bedroom clean so they can have a friend over Friday night. But the world doesn’t allow that.
There’s never a good time to tell your child that the world is brimming with hate. There’s never a good time to explain to them that people are being shot because of the color of their skin, to tell them that grown ass adults are holding Nazi rallies, or even what a fucking Nazi is. There’s never a good time, but now is the right time. Now is the right time more than ever before. Now— right now, while everything is in a complete and utter shitstorm. Now is when we teach them.
So I teach her. Even when it breaks my heart, and my words leave a bad taste in my mouth, I teach her. I tell her what’s happening in the news. I tell her that hateful people are rallying against those that are different than them and we don’t know why. I tell her that people of color are facing violence everyday of their lives, because people think that a different skin tone means a lesser quality of human being. I tell her that our friends are facing oppression because of who they love.
I tell her that hurricanes and natural disasters are wracking our country and our world, because people don’t care enough to take care of the Earth. I tell her about the effects of global warming and I tell her about all of the people that are suffering tremendous loss because the human race is too lazy to take care of its own fucking trash.
I take her to Wal-Mart and have her pick out things to send to Hurricane Harvey victims in Texas. I tell her why. I tell her that they’re without a home, and their clothes and toys are gone now. I make her understand, and I instill a desire to help. I take her to marches and fundraisers. I let her see a bit of the ugliness, and I teach her.
I teach her because she is our future. I teach her because it is up to her to try to make this world a better place to be, to stand against the oppression and the bigotry, and use her privilege for the betterment of human kind. It’s up to her to accept nothing less than equality and basic human rights for everyone. It’s up to her to march and fight, and kick and scream, and never back down. I teach her because my child, her generation, will be the ones tearing down the fucking walls.
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Andrea is a freelance writer based out of Kentucky. She is the mother to a 3 year old little girl and step-mother to a 6 year old boy. She’s been married to her husband and best friend for 5 years. She enjoys fishing, camping, hiking and the occasional glass of wine by a bonfire.