I ran across the magazine Best Life at the gym today and found an interesting article by Steve Almond. He's the father of a one-year old girl and is contemplating the difficulties of raising a child -- particularly a girl -- in a thoroughly debauched American pop culture. It's something that Katherine and I have been thinking about as well, as a recent ultrasound revealed that we shall be having a baby girl.
Almond writes that you can't have separate sets of moral values, public and private:
It’s here that my old Dude Self and my brand-new Dad Self come to blows. Because as much as I want to check out Paris and Lindsay, I know I’m harming my daughter by doing so. For one thing, I’m sending her a very clear message: Daddy loves sluts. Be a slut and Daddy will love you. And if you don’t believe that a 1-year-old picks up on messages, you’ve never seen my daughter in action. She is intensely focused on everything in her environment, especially whatever I happen to be looking at.
But even if I ogled Paris in private, I would still be contributing to the Culture of Paris, helping to shape a world in which young women win adulation for making porn videos and getting arrested, rather than for, say, curing cancer or brokering peace in the Middle East or being a mom. If we all stopped consuming celebrity scandals, they would cease to exist. If a media slut goes to jail and no one’s there to film the perp walk, does it really matter?
He also conceives of a principle that will guide the parenting of his daughter:
I want Josephine to grow up in a world where her ambitions will be about what she wants, not what the panting men of the world want from her. My daughter is not a commodity. Her heart can be broken. Her spirit can be wounded. And there is no accessory that can rescue her from these dangers.
Which brings me to rule number five, the only one I plan to enforce: Josephine can do anything she likes with her life, so long as she asks herself first: Is this behavior worthy of the love I deserve? If she flouts this rule, the failure will have been her parents’, not hers.