Parents need Courage, Clarity, Compassion, and Communication to dialogue effectively with their children.
In recent weeks, the following incidents took place, all involving people I know personally who live near me.
- A middle-schooler was unable to focus at school where a female student who identifies as a boy identifying as a dog kept barking in class. The teacher refused to say anything about it.
- A girl refused to use the school washroom all day because she didn’t want to use the gender-neutral washroom with boys. Using the girls-only washroom, which is out of the way, would single her out among her peers.
- A mother was baffled when her teen started spouting words like “colonialism” and “patriarchy” while dressing down her father for not clearing his plate from the table.
- A grad-year student looking into post-secondary options found the first required course for the local college’s fine arts program is “Intro to Critical and Cultural Theory,” a Marxist-based philosophy that subtly encourages aggression and division.
- An elementary student borrowed a library graphic novel of Little Women in which Jo comes out as a lesbian and shares a kiss with another girl.
- A Catholic high school teacher asked students to introduce themselves using their preferred pronouns.
Examples of wokeism are also taking place in the workforce:
- A new employee taking diversity/inclusivity training was required to answer Yes to the question, “Does refusing to use a person’s preferred pronouns constitute harassment?”
- A hairdresser had two customers an hour apart tell her how they “can’t say anything” in the face of woke ideology such as these scenarios. They feel as if their opinions have been nullified.
Then there was an employee who decided to speak out after being required to attend a training session to make the organization more LGBT2SQ-friendly. She wrote a direct and charitable letter to her employer explaining her beliefs. The employer decided to make the training optional.
How radically different my childhood was compared to today’s, when words like colonialism, patriarchy, transgenderism, critical (race) theory, intersectionality, white privilege, and social justice are seeping into my home and into society’s everyday vocabulary. Along with these ideas comes a climate of anger and division. Ironically, all facets of woke ideology instil a victim mentality which ultimately disempowers its adherents.
Hence the anger.
Adding to the confusion is the fact that many woke “values” piggyback on Christian virtues. As Christians, we also want to put an end to racism and injustice. The difference is that in the woke framework there is no mercy, no forgiveness, and no hope.
It has taken me a while to understand the movement.
I started meeting monthly online with a group of moms to discuss the origins and issues facing our children. We studied Noelle Mering, a podcaster and the author of a new book Awake, Not Woke: A Christian Response to the Cult of Progressive Ideology. We examined Catholic Voices resources and invited Peter Nation to present several talks. Having a clear picture of the historical facts behind the movement has helped us in our discussions with family and friends.
Mering exhorts us to have Courage, Clarity, and Compassion: courage for effecting change; clarity for understanding issues in order to dialogue; and compassion for everyone regardless of whether they are a woke fellow traveller or a woke ideologue.
For parents, I would add a fourth “C” – communication. This should be at the forefront of our minds at all times. A river can’t flow if it is blocked.
The teen years present a bigger challenge, so parents have to get creative. Even if a teen is intractable, flowers secretly placed on her desk, extra Rosaries prayed, and perseverance in saying, “Good night, honey” to someone who only grunts can soften the heart for eventual conversation. We work on what we can work on today.
Woke ideology particularly disdains three aspects of Christianity: that we need to forgive; that we need to be open to dialogue; and that we are children of God. Focusing on these positives will instil in children a love for the beauty and truth of the Christian faith.
Forgiving others and being forgiven produces a tangible peace that children easily recognize. This can be fostered in daily interactions and, importantly, for Catholics, in regular confession.
Teaching our children to dialogue with others who hold different views fosters self-confidence and contributes to a healthy society. Even our worst enemies have some good points. Similarly, we can relate to someone with woke values in many ways: all people are equal, whether white or black, woman or man. This can be a foundation to start a dialogue.
We can guide our children in learning about opposite viewpoints, figuring out how each perspective is different and which is most consistent with facts and logic.
Additionally, they need to see that regular dialogue with God is necessary to thrive in this life. For a Christian, the core of personal identity is the fact that we are sons and daughters of God. It is not the colour of our skin, our sex, our gender, our ethnic background, or our nationality. Children are amazed when they realize God planned on creating them specifically, with all their quirks and qualities, before the beginning of time.
These approaches, along with Mering’s constant advice to “have fun in the family,” constitute an effective inoculation against many harmful influences.
Parallel to the internal guidance of our children is keeping an eye on external factors.
Pay attention to what goes on in school. Canadian psychologist Jordan Peterson recommends that children whose teachers rely upon words like equity, diversity, inclusivity, white privilege leave the classroom. Why should they be indoctrinated with “radical leftist, neo-Marxist ideology”?
Erroneous ideas often come more from peers than teachers, so getting to know your children’s friends is important. Pay attention to their internet habits. Invest in a parental control or filtering device.
Read books and watch shows together that support your values. There’s a wealth of information available in an entertaining form on the internet – on topics ranging from preferred pronouns to same-sex attraction to social justice.
Helping children to remain loyal to noble human and Christian values has always been a challenge for parents. Imagine what it must have been like to be a parent in Nazi Germany when children were being courted by Hitler Youth groups, or in in the Soviet Union, when everyone was expected to join the Young Pioneers. Love your children, educate them, and entrust them to the Lord. He will open their eyes to the truth.