Parents can defeat wokism
Raising Conservative Kids in a Woke City:
Teaching Historical, Economic, and Biological Truth in a World of Lies
By Stacy Manning and Katy Faust | Post Hill Press, 2023, 175 pages
Katy Faust and Stacy Manning are two strong-minded, Christian, conservative American mums, determined to raise their children with traditional faith values inside the enemy lines of an aggressive woke culture. They live in Seattle, which has become familiar to us as a city on the cutting edge of wokist hysteria. The task of raising children with moral weaponry to withstand the woke ideological headwinds doesn’t come much harder than in Seattle.
Their children, seven in all, range from Second Year College level to Fourth Grade (roughly equivalent to our Third Class), and the book wraps up with testimonies from each one of them, which show their parents have been amazingly successful in the task they set themselves.
Katy and Stacy, supported by their husbands who share their values and missionary spirit, set out a very clear road map for other parents to follow. They give many concrete examples of how the journey plays out in the real lives of their children in accounts of their interactions with teachers and classmates. The children’s ability to score points in verbal jousts with adults and peers alike is indeed impressive.
However, behind the successes lies a lot of hard work and dedicated, vigilant, and perhaps rather intense parenting. It is certainly not as easy as it might first appear. The authors make it clear that parents themselves are “the program”. Their example, their expertise, their confidence, their interpersonal skills and, not by any means least, their availability offer their children the map they must follow if they are to hold their heads high in a hostile culture.
“Availability” is more than just being around when they have something to share. It also means what the authors call “no flinch” openness and calmness to whatever startling communications offspring may bring home from school or play. This ensures lines of communication stay open, and children know they can tell anything to Mom and Dad without triggering hysterics or panic.
The core of this philosophy is that parents give their children the space to develop independence gradually as the parental role evolves from that of protector and teacher to respected consultant by the time the college years approach. They sum up their method as a progression from “you watch, I do” to “we do together” to “you do, I watch” to “you do on your own” unless you want to consult.
Teaching critical thinking is key, and gives conservative kids the edge over those indoctrinated with unexamined doctrines, based on “feelings rather than facts”, who prove surprisingly easy to derail once confronted with hard data. However, there are also experiences of perverse stone-walling in defiance of clearly set out facts, which can be tough for a young person, especially when it is a teacher who is pulling rank to the obvious satisfaction of a classroom audience of kids from liberal, progressive homes. It is rarely a level playing field when a young person is up against an adult, especially one with the cultural winds at her back.
However, the task of preparing children to push back against wokist precepts should start long before they reach the class forum. In fact, it needs to begin in the preschool years. Parents must “get to the children first” by shaping their view of the world and particularly of the family, as historically understood. Secularising progressives know the importance of early intervention too, and so conservative parents need to introduce topics and conversations that, ideally, they would prefer to leave until their children are considerably older. This is a point the authors stress, and it is an important one.
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From the time children begin to observe, parents should be on the lookout for teaching opportunities. Stories about (American) history and the progress of thought, stories about the saints and biblical stories all serve to ground developing consciousness in the values parents wish to transmit.
In addition to being alert for teaching opportunities, parents must impart information in an age and language-appropriate way. Clearly, this is easier for well-educated parents with a can-do American grittiness, born of their country’s culture, along with, in the case of both authors, the skills acquired as social activists, than for many other parents whose life paths have not instilled the same toughness and self-belief.
Walking the talk
Besides, as already noted, it is the parents themselves, as the authors emphasise, who are the core “program”. They may follow a road map in raising their children, but it is they themselves who are the road map that matters most. They must show that they are the kind of people they are raising their children to become. This requires not only expertise and self-belief, but an array of other skills that most of us don’t acquire before well into adulthood, skills like staying cool under fire, making no assertions you can’t support by evidence and refraining from ad hominem attacks however provoked.
This takes an enormous amount of time investment that many parents would struggle to provide. The authors emphasise the importance of finding “your tribe” so there is social support and enforcement from other like-minded adults and families. They recommend the church, “any church” as the place most likely to provide a mutually supportive network of committed, well-informed people.
One may ask how well the lessons of this book transfer to an Irish context or indeed to the context of other families not so well equipped or connected to adopt “the program”. There is much that is universally useful, and the book offers encouragement and concrete ideas that can be applied in any family.
Ireland, however, is not America. We have enjoyed a great deal of community support in the transmission of faith and associated conservative values from both parish and faith schools for generations. Now, that support is ebbing away quickly, and families of faith conviction have to learn a kind of self-reliance that our culture has not trained us for.
The other fairly salient difference between Ireland and America is that woke culture tends to take a more passive-aggressive form in Irish life. One is more likely to be socially shunned, ignored, dismissed as a backward bigot rather than confronted. Whatever the challenges posed by the latter attitude, it implies a considerably greater degree of respect, inferring that one poses a threat to the advance of social “progress” and offers the minority viewpoint a platform on which to assert its values and, in turn, confront the dominant narrative.
In some ways, it strikes me that it might be easier to “fight the good fight” in America today than in the former haven of “saints and scholars” now so fanatically intent on being top of the class among the wokest of the woke internationally.
Margaret Hickey is a regular contributor to Position Papers. She is a mother of three and lives with her husband in Blarney.
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