News broke nationally yesterday (as of this writing) that a concerned Mother was taking a popular toy store to task about a particular line of action figures that it decided to carry in its stores. It is those figures of the primary characters of the, now finite, hit television series “Breaking Bad”. It is only now, in which I search for an article link to give you an idea of what i’m talking about in case you live under a rock, that I see co-star of the series Aaron Paul made 1/2 of the same argument earlier today that I am about to make.
My primary stance on the issue is this: if you don’t like it, don’t buy it. If you don’t want your kid to have it, don’t buy if for them. Don’t even show it to them. First of all, why would they recognize those characters if they weren’t aware of the series in the first place? And while I have the understanding that some children pick out toys they don’t understand simply because of the appeal to their imaginations of their image, it would stay exactly that. If a little boy or girl, with no knowledge at all of “Breaking Bad”, or even drugs points to that toy of Walter White and says “Mommy/Daddy that guy looks like Lex Luthor! I need a Lex Luthor to fight my Superman” you buy them the damn toy. It will only remain in their head as Lex Luthor until years from now when they come to learn about its actual history. There is also the great power of parenting which is that just because your child desires a toy, it does not mean you have to buy it for them.
My secondary point: stop teaching your kids to fear things they don’t understand. The last thing we need to do, especially in the age that we live in, is to try hiding our children away from the truth about the world. When we teach fear, the only thing they will know is fear, and will always lead a fearful life. This also breeds the naivete that infects individuals on a deep level of dealing with particular situations. Your child may ask for this toy, do not buy it or do. But teach them what it is and WHY it is innapropriate. When I was 16 I started drinking alcohol, not to excess, but far more than a kid that age should. My parents found out, and the conversation that followed was this: they taught me everything there is to know about alcohol. How its made, what it’s made of, what it does to your body, how dangerous it is, and how disrupting it can be to one’s life. My Grandfather was an alcoholic, and ultimately, it is one of the primary reasons for the slow deterioration of his brain before his death. My parents did not make me fearful, they made me intelligent, even going so far as to teach me how to deal with a drunk person.
“A person who is drunk is an animal,” my Father once told me, “they aren’t the human that they were before they started drinking. Alcohol changes you in ways you don’t know of until it’s too late.”
So I say to this Mother, who’s protest lead to the ultimate removal of the “Breaking Bad” toys from Toy’s R’ Us shelves, that I agree our children should not have to encounter this negative drug culture in any form. Nobody should. But there it is. It’s on TV, it’s in our schools, it’s in our neighborhood, it’s in YOUR neighborhood, and it will always be there. From the time your child wakes up tomorrow morning, to the time he/she goes to sleep on their final day of life, drug culture will be there. I’m not trying to put out the “get over it” messages that you will no doubt receive from idiots. I for one am happy that you have taken such a drastic step in protecting your child from the horrors of the outside world. But there is one major hurdle that we parents must all accept: we can shield our children from many things, but we can never shield them from the truth.
It is our duty as parents, as teachers, to open up the world to our children and show them everything. Even the dark little corners where horrors and nightmares are kept. From the golden tippy top of that which is right, and the deep bowels of that which is wrong and terrible. Because in all of these there is always a truth, and understanding the truth is one of your child’s most wonderful and powerful tool.
My third and final point, which Aaron Paul already discussed to some leangth: There are many things in this world as (or even more) offensive to many people. In my opinion, I will never buy a “Barbie” doll for my daughter, because I find it offensive. They are a symbol, to not just me but hundreds of thousands more, of the de-beautification of the natural woman. “Barbie” dolls are a cornerstone of this culture forced upon young girls that they must conform to a certain image. They help to instill that feeling in young girls that they must look a particular way, or else they are not beautiful. I have yet to see a “Barbie” with acne, or stretch marks, or one that is heavy set. I have never seen a barby go through the same afflictions as an average girl. This is a horrible ideal put upon our society that leads often to the same drug addictions you fear so much. It is not so far fetched to say even that this indirect campaign of self-hate has lead to the deaths of thousands of innocent individuals who felt that they didn’t “fit in”, and I will not have it in my house.
That being said, the day may come when my daughter will look at me in the toy store, point to a “Barbie” and say “Daddy I want that one”. In that moment I will pick it up, take it to the cashier, and pay the obscene amount of money for it. Because I am part a generation of parents that must exist for the betterment of our society. I am a part of a generation of parents surrounded by ignorance, and we have taken to the ideal that teaching our kids to understand instead of to hate, is the more progressive, and safest way of life.
To be a Parent is to be a Teacher. Be not a Teacher of fear, be a teacher of understanding.
****disclaimer: I do not own the picture attributed to this post****