I grew up with conspiracy theories, watching adults speak like uninformed children. They’ve made for some pretty funny party stories.
But having children and in particular a teen has made me humorless to them. Teens are experiencing the fine lines between truth, experience, privilege and perspective. It is the murky depths that can leave them open or harden them to the world.
The other day my son came home and told me an adult had told him Hillary has serpent blood. I asked him, why would someone say this? What do you think they mean?
Fingers crossed, they are speaking figuratively. Maybe they are speaking of her foreign policy or maybe they are repeating the old gem that a woman with power must be frigid.
If it’s the first, sorry, I can’t help you out there. This isn’t an episode of Dr Who. The second, I can’t lie, I am troubled but can grasp some of the international historical nuance, the third, well, thank you very much. That’s in my parenting wheelhouse.
A male going through puberty being handed coded language get’s a strong tsk, tsk followed by a middle finger from me.
My son and I went down the list starting with fear. I let him do most of the talking, working it through outloud because he isn’t yet ready to hear why a woman is called frigid, we are still baby stepping here. How do you tell your son that when a man feels threatened by a woman it equates to her not wanting to have sex with him and there must be something wrong with her? How do you balance the biases your children are barraged with and hormones? A long bumpy ride, friends.
Conspiracy theories are chock full of superstition and self-loathing. They are not new-think, they are fear-think. It isn’t people breaking things down to the truth, it’s them resisting change. How can we raise our children to trust the world and live in it if we give the devil his advocates.
We have to raise children to trust in humans. It starts small with letting them ride the subway and ends with them launching themselves in to life. Do we want a bunch of middle age children cowering in our basements wondering if the medical establishment is trying to turn us in to animorphs?
Asking questions and not always going with the status quo is always encouraged in my parenting but conspiracy theories have no place. Hand wringing and repeating half truths will only hold children back.