5 reasons why men with beards are better

bearded man.jpg

There are very few things that superficially warm my heart than the sight of a man with a good beard and a good shape up. There’s something about the clean line of a level one perfectly orchestrated, partnered with a full  chin of hair that makes my heart skip a little beat. I’ve convinced myself that not only are beards physically attractive, they’re actually a signifier of a higher level of being.

Disclaimer: Just because something isn’t logical, doesn’t mean it’s not true. Think about that. It’s deep. 

1) Men with beards are more spiritually enlightened.

According to every painting  I’ve ever seen, Jesus had a beard. In fact, every famous religious figure worth mentioning had a beard. Now, I’m team Jesus, but Mohammed, Buddha, Confuscious, and all the Egyptian Pharoahs (who they thought were also gods) had beards. Basically, despite my opinions on their varying theologies they all got one thing right – a good beard makes a man more at peace with himself and the world around him.

2) Men with beards have more time to spend with you

If it takes a man 5 minutes to shave in the morning, that’s 5 minutes every day he can’t spend giving you attention. That’s 5 minutes less breakfast in bed, foot rubs, phone conversations, asking  for the 10th time his opinion on whether you should go natural,  helping you choose hairstyles for when you go natural, arguing about George Osbourne’s budget (just me?), or telling you that you’re beautiful. Unless he has one of those beards that needs daily grroming. In which case, refer to point number 1.

3) Men with beards are less likely to get sunburn, therefore less likely to get skin cancer, therefore have a higher life expectancy.

A man with a beard has a higher proportion of his face covered by hair than a man without a beard. Therefore, he has a natural blocker of UVA and UVB rays. These rays cause skin cancer. The less chance he has of getting skin cancer, the higher the chance he has of sticking around and spending a life loving you. I mean, it’s so obvious you wonder what’s wrong with men who choose to not have beards. Don’t they think things through? Are they naturally less intelligent?

4) Men with beards have proven they can commit.

A beard isn’t simply a follicular accessory – it’s a commitment to a lifestyle of masculinity and virility. It says “Hey, look at me. I believe in something. I have principles. I can make long lasting committments to things that are important to me”. If he can commit to a beard then he is more likely to commit to a job. And to a woman. With a ring. Men with beards are more likely to get married. Dating men who don’t have facial hair is risky. Who is he? What does he believe in? If he can’t commit to facial hair, what chance do you have?

5) Men with beards are like pets. They are good for your health.

It’s been proven that sroking pets is therapeutic and improves your emotional and mental well being. Life can be hard sometimes, but maybe you’re allergic to cats. Why should you miss out on the therapeutic benefits of fur? Forget the cat that you have to feed and change litters for. Forget that annoying poodle that you have to walk around in the morning, pooper scooper in hand. What kind of life is that? Find a nice man with a beard. If you’re lucky, not only will he marry you (because he can commit), but you can stroke his beard whenever you’re stressed. For the rest of your life. It’s a no brainer.

Who else is #teambeard?

If hoes can’t become housewives then you shouldn’t become a husband.

kim kanye interacial

 

“Can’t turn a hoe into a housewife”, is a well known phrase. Essentially it encapsulates the idea that once a woman has a past of being sexually promiscuous, she can never become ‘respectable’ enough to become a good wife. The cumulative effect of her past sexual experiences have forever tainted her and rendered her value at zilch in the marriage economy. I’ve made a couple of posts about sexual double standards before and I hate to to beat on the same drum with a similar rhythm, but unfortunately, this message just hasn’t travelled through to the all the intended villages yet  -so I’m going to keep playing.

Funnily enough, men who are well on their way to being able to run their own brothel with themselves as the primary service giver, are the same men who tend to use this phrase without any sense of coyness.  Yes, you’ve read correctly – JimBob who has slept with a different woman every month for the past 5 years, wishes to marry Felicity Neverkissed. It doesn’t strike them as ironic that they’ve treated women as  mere semen receptacles since puberty but still claim that the many women they’ve slept with aren’t worthy of their hand in marriage. This should be side splittingly hilarious to the majority of sensible people, but it always strikes me as strange how so many otherwise intelligent and emotionally sensitive men have for some reason still not rejected the idea that women’s sexual expression has far more moral consequences than theirs. Practically, I would agree it does – we can get pregnant. Morally I’m not sure why my past promiscuity would make me completely ineligible to get pregnant, use a spatula and be a source of emotional support to someone, but a man’s promiscuity has absolutely no bearing on his ability to function as my life partner.

I’m not arguing that your sexual past has no consequences for future relationships. I personally believe in abstinence and I believe that part of the reason my faith promotes not just abstinence but purity is because our past experiences DO inform our future ones. We can’t run away from that. It’s up to each of us to make decisions about our own moral choices, and choose to believe what we believe, but our past behaviour may well impact our future relationships. If you choose to have many sexual experiences with many different people then that’s entirely your prerogative and your choice.

What I am arguing against is the offensive, stupid, and sexist idea that women can’t change their sexual behaviour but men can. Men, especially Christian men, feel that they can sow their wild oats for as long as they want and suddenly, when they feel that they have seen enough of ‘the world’,  they will be able to turn off that behaviour, find a ‘good woman’ ( one who is less sexually experienced than them) and live happily ever after in a 4 bedroom house in the suburbs with a dog made Bingo, eating home cooked meals and having fabulously passionate married sex for the rest of their lives. Unfortunately Tiffany, who was twerking alongside him in the club a mere 15 hours before he locked eyes with his future wifey, just lacks the innate ability to turn off the tap in the same way he does – by virtue of the fact that she bleeds on a monthly basis. Don’t even get me started on the extra double standard that allows white women to release sex tapes and start whole careers off the back of it, but black women who do the same thing will be forever blackballed (pun intended).

I hate to break it to you, but there’s a strong possibility that your sowing of wild oats will reap, as one writer puts it, ‘a bitter crop’. Don’t you dare look down your nose at the women you sowed your wild oats with. And even if you have been one of those men who has chosen to be very selective about their sexual partners or the number of sexual partners, if you believe that only men but not women can change, you don’t really respect women.

If I decide that I don’t want to be with a man who has a list of woman he’s slept with the length of my arm then people see that as unrealistic or picky, but a man who wants a woman with a lower number than him is just being a man? How is this still a thing in 2016?

Personally, I’m grateful that every day I get the chance to make choices that are better than I did the day before. If men who used to be selfish, or spendthrifts, or drama queens (yes, men can be drama queens), or couldn’t fry a baked bean without assistance can become husbands then a woman who used to be promiscuous can become a housewife too.

People can change. That change can’t and won’t happen overnight because consequences are real, habits are hard to break, and it can be a difficult and sometimes discouraging road. But if someone wants to change, they can change. Stop playing God and telling them they can’t.

For a Christian, there’s no such thing as an inter-faith marriage.

miniskirthijab

 

I love learning about different religions. I’ve always been fascinated by faith and non-faith, from the colourful polytheism of Hinduism to the strict monotheism of Islam, right down to the secular humanism that rejects both. R.E was one of my favourite subjects at school and I distinctly remember one of my best grades was a project I had to do on Judaism in year 9. I remember working particularly hard on it simply because I found Jewish culture fascinating – maybe even attractive. I admired their pride in their cultural traditions, I loved the beauty of the language of the Torah and the Talmud, and I so badly wanted to experience Shabbat at a synagogue.(It’s still on my bucket list).

I would never date a Jewish man.

Strange? While I love learning about different faiths, I am adamant that the faith I believe in is the truth. Arrogant,some would say. But not only do I assert that what i believe is the truth, I fully expect other people who have different faith backgrounds to assert the same thing, and I have no problem with that. After all, what is the point of faith if it is half hearted? How can something shape the entire fabric of your life, right down to the clothes you wear and the food you eat, and be a ambiguous wandering in the direction of a possible certainty. No one’s giving up bacon based on a vague inkling. And I’m certainly not refraining from sex before marriage because of a hunch I got a few years ago that it could possibly be a good idea, sorta, depending on what cereal I ate yesterday. Erm, no. There’s got to be certainty on that one.

There are some truths that can co-exist. The sky can be blue and the grass can be green at the same time. A woman can look fabulous with a weave and with an afro. Popcorn can be both sweet and savoury.

Some truths can’t though. You cannot have refined taste buds AND like avocados. Water can’t be both cold and hot. And the Bible and the Qu’ran can’t both be 100% true. They just can’t – because they blatantly contradict each other.

The question is not, how much does truth matter? Because we all know that truth matters. A lot. It matters whether the diagnosis the doctor gave your Mum last week is the truth. It maters whether the exam grade you received yesterday is the truth. It matters whether the directions that that random lady gave you to that sports massage clinic that you paid more money than could possibly be ethical for someone to just lay hands on you, and you were already running late, were the truth. No, we all know truth matters.
The question is, what do you ACTUALLY believe to be true?

My faith makes some pretty bold claims about a lot of things in the world. It claims that there is only one way for man to fully access God. It claims that the decision to follow this deity is a life or death decision, and that those who make it should be prepared to give up their whole life, everything that is important to them, to live for this truth. These are ludicrous and outlandish claims to anyone who does not believe as I do.

But if I really believe that these are life or death decisions, how can I be comfortable linking my entire life, my hopes, dreams and aspirations with someone who is not willing to shape his whole life around this cause in the way that I am? How can I be comfortable with him telling my children that this faith, that I believe is a matter of life and death, may not exist at all, or that the faith he believes in is as good, as viable an alternative?

If I am comfortable with this, it’s a clear indicator that I do not believe what I claim to believe. It’s not that I don’t believe truth matters, it’s that what I say I believe to be true and what I ACTUALLY believe to be true must be two entirely different things.

Some Christian (specifically Adventist) parents chastise and guilt their children for marrying outside of their faith, without realising that it wasn’t really their faith at all. Christians who are very comfortable marrying Hindus have made a quite obvious statement that they don’t really believe in the claims of Christianity. That’s entirely their prerogative, but it makes sense to own it rather than calling it an inter-faith marriage. I can’t speak for other religions, but I believe that in Christianity there is no such thing as an inter faith marriage. By making the decision to marry outside of the faith, at the time of that act, you have essentially denied the faith. That’s not to say that that marriage is doomed to failure, the person in question is cut off forever, or that God cannot bring beautiful things out of what (I believe)is a mistake. But it does mean that at the time, you are making a very clear personal statement of your faith (or non-faith).

More specifically, within Christianity there are several different denominations. Some of them have a very basic set of beliefs and some of them make very specific claims about quite a few things. Mine is one of them. If you’re a Seventh Day Adventist who marries a Baptist – again, that’s your prerogative, but you clearly didn’t really believe in the specificities of Adventism at the time you decided to get married. If that continues, can you with integrity call yourself an Adventist?

I’m a big believer in live and let live when it comes to faith. One of my fondest memories was being in Chad and hearing the Muslim call to prayer. It’s one of the most beautiful things I’ve heard. I don’t believe in Islam, but I want Muslims to have the freedom to believe what they believe, and I want us to be able to live alongside each other and treat each other with mutual respect. At the same time, I believe that the faith that I found is the best thing to ever happen to me. It gives me joy and peace and of course I naturally want to share that with others if they allow me to (and only if they allow me to). If Christianity doesn’t inspire that in you, then I would politely question whether you’ve truly experienced it.

I certainly don’t want to be in the awkward situation where my significant other feels that I am waiting, Bible in hand, to convert them to my faith. I would hate to be on the receiving end of that and I refuse to inflict that on anyone else.

Truth matters. What matters more is what you believe is the truth.

What do you guys think? Close minded or common sense?

Gender neutral parenting may not be wrong, but it’s probably useless.

mum and dad

 

I was chatting with my brother earlier today about children being brought up to be a specific gender and the roles that come with that. There’s been a lot more conversation in the last couple of years about children and gender. Many question whether it’s healthy  to bring up children with a specific gender or whether we should raise children as gender neutral.

I usually try to be quite diplomatic in these conversations because I feel that these issues are quite complex and that for families where children have questions about their gender identity, all the articles in the world will never be able to give the right answer on how to deal with when your child who is physically female tells you that they believe mentally, and emotionally, they are a boy.

However, I am becoming increasingly more frustrated with the formidable nonsense amongst those who are insistent on promoting this ridiculous and contradictory notion that gender is something wholly imagined by society with little biological basis, but who at the same time insist that some people are born in the ‘wrong’ body and therefore their need to change their body to match their gender. Clearly, these two ideas are logically incompatible.

Many of the same people who are proponents of this are also proponents of the idea that children should be raised to be ‘gender neutral’. Little boys should dress up as Pocahuntus if they like, and little girls who want to be Ken instead of Barbie should be allowed to do so with no interruption or intervention. After all, we wouldn’t want  to put any limitations on our children in regards to gender, would we?

And in one sense I agree that I want to bring up my children to be gender neutral. I don’t want my little girl to feel like she can’t be a high flying surgeon because of her gender. If my little boy decides he wants to spend his whole life sauteeing carrots, I won’t let him be told that cooking is for girls. My son won’t be told that displaying emotion is a feminine characteristic that should be looked upon with disdain, and my little girls won’t be told that they can’t be strong because of their gender.

That’s because none of these characteristics are uniquely male or female or even used to differentiate between men or women – cooking is something humans need to do to stay alive. We all need doctors. We all need to cry sometimes. We can all learn how to do a push up without using our knees.

There is some misinformation about gender neutral parenting floating around. Despite what some may believe, it’s not usually about banning little girls from wearing pink or stopping boys from playing with their Action Man, but rather allowing them to ‘perform’ gender without limitations. I.e. – If Kwame wants to dress up in a pink dress he can, as well as playing with his Action Man.

My problem with gender neutral parenting is that I see it as an unnecessary attempt to confuse what we are already biologically primed for. Arguably there are biological limitations placed on us due to our sex (which is closely linked to gender). In almost every other part of the animal kingdom we can clearly see the very binary separation  of male and female and that these separations confer some behavioural differences. Watch any David Attenborough documentary and you will clearly see that female birds, spiders, and lions have certain behavioural patterns that are different from the male species. Unlike us, they live without any societal expectations,  yet still have clearly defined roles based on sex. In humans, there are also clear biological differences between men and women – our hormones prime us for this. Testosterone is linked with aggression – this is not coincidental, this is biology. Our brains as men and women are structurally different – the extent of the differences have been exaggerated by many to perpetuate gender inequality, but they’re still there and they still influence behaviour to some extent. As in any discipline, scientific debates around this are influenced by each individual scientists pre-commitment to a particular ideological agenda and the extent of the differences will be stated differently depending on who you ask.

Regardless of the neurophysiology, according to studies, most children who are brought up gender neutral don’t end up being gender neutral adults, although I’m sure they have more relaxed attitudes towards gender norms than most people. In my opinion, that fact alone confirms maybe not the danger, but the futility of it all. Regardless of any attempts, our bodies in general revert back to what they were made for. Gender norms are definitely influenced by society and culture but the binary system of gender is not simply a societal structure – it’s conferred to us biologically.

Despite that, my reasons against gender neutral parenting are personally rooted in my value system – my faith leads me to believe that gender differences are not only natural, but sacred and that as well as our biological differences we’re supposed to teach our children to become men and women and not leave it to chance -I won’t apologise for that. If however, my son decided he wants to use the ladies loos, although I’ll refuse, I’m unlikely to panic that he asked. Nature will probably figure it out for him in the end anyway.

Telling women how to potentially avoid being raped is not ‘victim blaming’.

rape culture

 

I’m sure the phrase victim blaming has been around for a fairly long time, but it certainly became extremely popular shortly after 2014. Twitter feminism (which I feel has now qualified as its own wave of feminism) is particularly fond of using the phrase “victim blaming”. They’re not wrong for using it – there is plenty of victim blaming slithering across both the cyber and non-cyber universe, even in 2016. I’ve heard it with my own ears, seen it with my own eyes, and continue to be disgusted by it.

However, as much as the phrase is correctly targeted at men (and women) who suggest to victims of rape or sexual abuse that it is somehow their fault, of recent, it’s being chucked at anyone who would dare to suggest basic safety measures to women .

Someone: Try not to walk around unaccompanied in secluded areas at late hours of night or early hours of morning.

Feminist: WHY ARE YOU VICTIM BLAMING?????!!! What about the women who come home from work at 3 am, do they deserve to be raped? What about women who have no friends or family to accompany them? Most women are raped by people they know!!!!RAPE HAPPENS BECAUSE OF RAPISTS!!!! KEEP YOUR ADVICE TO YOURSELF!

This is all a complete overreaction to the proposal of a basic, sensible safety measure. In no way did the person suggest that women who are raped alone or in secluded areas are responsible for the rape, in the same way that no one suggests that people who are mugged coming home fron the club are responsible for being mugged or that children who take sweets from a stranger are responsible for the paedophile’s behaviour. It’s actually a very simple and sensible thought process:

1)There are men who are rapists.

2) Most men who rape, rape people they know and it’s extremely difficult to do much to avoid this except by not ever being alone in a room with a man.

3) There are a minority of rapes that are committed by perfect strangers.

4)These strangers may be more likely to target you if you’re by yourself or somewhere secluded where you can’t get help because in Western society, men don’t generally rape women  in crowds.

5)Therefore, avoid secluded areas if possible and try where possible to be accompanied at tiems when there aren’t many people around.

6)If this is not possible due to a variety of circumstances, it’s still not your FAULT if you get raped, but where possible, it’s probably best to be as safe as you can while living your life with a semblance of normality.

I literally cannot fathom how a large number of otherwise very sensible people can miscontrue this thought process as victim blaming. Now, granted there are men and women who say inane and offensive things like “if you walk alone at night in a short skirt and you get raped, that’s your fault..why are you walking through alleyways in crop tops and minisskirts, that’s like walking through a crowd of hungry lions with an open box of KFC ..”. 

There is a clear difference bewteen the two lines of thinking, and if we conflate the two we’re in danger of confusing a commitment to equality with a type of hypersensitivity that only comes across as stupid.

I completely agree and understand the idea that rape SHOULD not be women’s problem  and that the focus should be on targeting men and changing the misogyny and rape culture that it is at the root of the problem. The same could be said of child molestation – the onus shouldn’t be on children or even parents to avoid paedophiles. We should be attempting to create measures to allow people with paedophilic tendencies to get the help they need before they commit a crime and by making sure that known paedophiles (who have commited or intend to commit a crime)  are kept far away from the rest of socety. But the honest truth is that there will always be rapists and there will always be paedophiles. There will always be creepy Pete down the road, or the seemingly upstanding politician who abuses his power to abuse unsuspecting children. There will always be the outwardly kind and gentlemanly man who date rapes, as well as the rapist who follows women in the early hours of the morning.  We live in an evil world, and in my personal opinion, it’s only getting worse.

No parent is going to refuse to warn their children about how to potentially avoid being molested because they might be ‘victim blaming’. Growing up, my Mum used to read to my brother and I a great book called ‘You can say no!’. It told the story of these two kids and the different adults they interacted with on a daily basis. There was the next door neighbour who invited them round for tea but told them not to tel Mum, their family friend who was safe and who always told their Mum exactly what they were doing and where they were going, the stranger who tried to get Tom to get into the car,and obviously Mum and Dad. I remember sitting on the edge of the bath and Mum asking me what I did if someone tried to touch me in away that I didn’t like .”I would kick him, scream and say “I DON’T KNOW HIM!”, and then run and find an adult I knew was safe”, I replied. She smiled at me. “Good girl”.

2 years later, it happened. An older man from church sat me on his lap and began touching my legs in a way I didn’t like. I told him I didn’t like it. He continued. And so I did what my Mum had taught me. I kicked him hard on the shins, screamed “I DON’T KNOW YOU!” (although obviously I did) and found my parents. It’s probable that nothing too bad would have happened. But its impossible to know. And I’m glad that my parents taught me how to assert myself  – it might have saved me from the unthinkable.

There were a recent string of sexual assaults in south Londoin. The police released information about the attacks and advised that the attacker was targeting women who were alone in the early hours of the morning, and that women should avoid walking alone in the early hours of the morning of possible. Were they victim blaming?

As a woman, I believe that regardless of the length of the skirt a woman wears, the alleyway she decides to hang out in alone, or the level of druken stupor she might drink  herself into, she is not responsible for the act of rape, the rapist is. And even though I don’t wear miniskirts, drink or hang out in alleyways  I don’t believe I am less deserving of rape. No one deserves to be raped. Nevertheless, as a woman, if there is any possible way, no matter how small, that I can do something that will increase my safety and decrease my chances of getting raped, I want to know about it. And I’m going to tell my friends. And that is not victim blaming, it’s basic common sense.

And that’s when my trousers fell down.

pregnant

Yesterday, or more precisely around 2:30 am this morning, I had another one of my many awkward moments. This one involved me, a male nurse, a full bladder, and a disabled door toilet that I thought I’d locked but I hadn’t.

It was the end of a long but productive shift. I’m a lot faster than I was in the beginning, when I would take about 2 and a half hours trying to decipher what exactly was wrong with the sweet little elderly lady with dementia who had a carer with her who had only just come on shift and consequently, knew as little as the elderly lady about what happened that evening.

I strolled out of the bay, tired but satisfied. All my prescription charts were written, I had handed over safely to one of my colleagues and none of my patients had made it to resus. I ended the shift with a well deserved loo break.

I breathed a sigh of happiness as I looked around at the vastness of the loo. Nothing like a a hospital toilet. As I proceeded to do the dreaded deed, I was startled as the door began to swing open . “No!No!!No! No!” I shouted as my favourite nurse Adam* materialised,  mouth open and eyes quickly shut. “Sorry! Sorry! Sorry!” he exclaimed as he stood there eyes closed and face red, and quickly slammed the door.

I hung my head and sat there, on the loo, at 2:30 in the morning. And instead of feeling embarrassment, a giggle started in the my pit of belly and quickly came out as a fit of laughter.

This was an all too familiar situation for me. I am clumsy and socially awkward. It used to bother me – I would feel frustrated when I watched others apparently seamlessly work a room, or float through life perfectly coordinated and refined. I’m just not like that. Life happens to me. And it often happens in ways that make me look like a complete idiot and make everyone else uncomfortable.

Lavatory-gate is the last in a list of many awkward moments. There was the time my wig fell off before a paediatric handover as I tried to take my jumper off behind a filing cabinet, and left a consultant terrified at my magical moving hair. There was the other time my other wig fell off onto my shoulder and I only noticed because my left shoulder felt slightly heavier than it did a few moments before. There was the time someone noticed a beetle had got stuck in my afro (It was summer, there were low lying tree branches, that’s my only explanation). There was the time I got startled coming out of a shower and completely dropped my towel onto the floor. We both screamed. There was that other time in medical school when my scrubs fell down as I walked into my first operation.  (Are you noticing awkward hair moments and various states of accidental undress are a running theme?)

At first, I used to wonder, why do these things happen to me? Am I being punished? Is there just an essential part of human existence that I haven’t grasped yet? Does this stuff to happen to everybody and I just don’t know about it? Why don’t other people’s scrub bottoms fall down? Didn’t I tie them tight enough?

I’m slowly beginning to believe that there was a period during my childhood I failed to meet my appropriate developmental stage in regards to planning basic tasks. I also have no sense of direction. It has taken me 2 months to find my way around my department. That’s 8 separate weeks. It’s not whole hospital – it’s a department within a hospital.

But I don’t care anymore.

I’ve just come to accept that once every few months, these things will happen to me. And I can write a blog post about them.

No biggie.

Anyone else as awkward as I am?

*names have been changed for confidentiality. LOL

 

 

It’s ok to ‘shelter’ your kids.

baby ivf

I can’t remember who exactly said it or when, but I’m sure it’s been said to more than once. I’ve been accused of being ‘sheltered’.

It’s not intended as a compliment obviously. It’s usually said with a bit of snark, or a lot of snark – or sometimes lovingly but patronisingly.

You haven’t been out partying, or had sex, or tried alcohol, or smoked a bit of weed or had someone attempt to sell you weed, or been invited to join a local gang. You weren’t allowed to stay out past midnight age 16. You weren’t allowed to have a boyfriend. Your parents monitored what you watched on television. You weren’t allowed a computer in your room. You weren’t allowed to hang around with certain people. Add on to the list..

Other parents would sneer at your parents too strict rules, and you would hear whisperings about how you would inevitably implode and rebel against the weight of all those rules.

Yet, here I am age 25 and still relatively sheltered. I’m not a goody two shoes by any stretch of the imagination and like any other 25 year old, I’ve had my screw ups, got my secrets and  had moments where I’ve completely disregarded everything my parents taught me. But yet, the core values they taught to me have always stuck – I will never be comfortable bumping and grinding with randoms and the non-alcoholic lager I tried a couple years back didn’t exactly inspire any desire to try the real thing. I’m still saying my morning prayers, going to church, drinking my soya milk and trying not to give my cookies away. And most importantly I’m learning each day (hopefully) to be more loving, kind, honest, courageous and faithful to the God I claim to believe in. So I guess their sheltering has mostly worked.

When I look around at my peers who weren’t as sheltered as I was, while I don’t want to throw shade on anyone else’s parenting style, I don’t envy their life when i compare it to mine. The idea that sheltering your kids is something to run away from baffles me. Parents are supposed to shelter their children. There’s nothing to be gained from this idea that children have to make their own mistakes, and that it’s better for them to have multiple screw ups before they ‘find themselves’.

They might find themselves pregnant, high, drunk in the bed of a stranger, or with emotional and mental scars that take years to heal. If that’s finding yourself then miss me out. Life is messy and hard and it hurts sometimes. We can’t protect our children from that – but I’m trying to avoid inflicting unnecessary hurt on myself if possible.

Smart people learn from other people’s mistakes as well as their own. I don’t need to make the same mistakes my parents or other people made in order to don some badge of adulthood. I’m glad that I can look at  other people’s lives and realise that the decisions they made didn’t work out well for them, and that it’s probably a good idea to avoid doing what they did. Don’t misunderstand me  -it was important for me to understand that people lived life differently to the way I did and I’m not advocating only letting children interact with others who share the same belief system. I love the fact that my parents allowed me to find out about different cultures, religions and belief systems. It strengthened my own belief and encouraged tolerance.

But the idea that you can’t be a successful well adjusted adult if your parents don’t allow you to engage in ‘normal’ teenage behaviour is a complete myth. I’m happily living in a house by myself and paying my own bills with money from what most people would consider to be a good job. I wasn’t allowed a boyfriend till 18 but I don’t spontaneously combust in the presence of mankind, and start drooling (apart from if he’s 6 ft 5 and has perfect grammar). I’ve managed to struggle through the first 25 years of life without a Bacardi Breezer as a companion on a Saturday night and still developed a robust sense of humour. And despite not ever having smoked a blunt, I have still retained the remarkable ability to think outside the box.

I know there are some people who were brought up in a strict household and feel resentful that they missed out on the best years of their life being tied up by a stringent set of rules. I understand that sentiment – I just can’t relate to it. Even if I became an atheist tomorrow or just more liberal in my values, I honestly have had so many good times in the community I grew up in, along with the values that come with it, that I would find it hard to be angry. Even if I’ve been completely misled, I’ve been quite happy with it. It’s not always been rosy – there are times when I’ve wanted to see what it’s like to live completely differently. There are times when I’ve felt like a complete outsider, and it can be very lonely. And Lord knows (literally He knows) that there have been times when a bump and grind with good looking guy isn’t the easiest thing to say no to (because we all know that’s one of the hardest things).

But the bottom line is that children usually rebel when you give them rules without relationship. Children rebel when you’re a hypocrite. And children rebel when they ask hard questions about WHY they can’t do certain things and you don’t give them good enough answers. Thankfully for me, although my parents weren’t perfect, there was a healthy enough dose of love, authenticity and smart answers that by the time I was able to live my own life, I actually believed all the values my parents taught me. I had seen it work for them and I had seen the path of other people who chose differently to know that I preferred the values that were handed down to me.

Everyone has to figure out life on their own and if  children choose to travel their path differently from their parents recommended route, then it’s entirely their choice. But whatever your moral compass, don’t apologise for sheltering your children from things you don’t want them to see or experience. While it’s important that they aren’t naive to the point of being vulnerable, they have plenty of time to see all the ugly things the world has to offer. Let them rest in the beauty for a while.

What are your thoughts? Were you sheltered? What is too much sheltering?