Of Parental Differences Of Opinion, And Of Satanism.

Hello Snarklings! Remember how at the end of the previous Gothic Charm School, the Lady of the Manners said she was going to talk about how a reader had gently taken her to task about the subtext she was implying when she talked about Satanists? Well yes, the Lady of the Manners is indeed going to talk about that. But first, she’s going to look at an issue that affects the parents of some of the babybats out there.

Hey, love the site, helps out alot. My question is that my son, age 11, loves the goth look. His dad and I are divorced. I don’t mind his interest in this because I myself have a litte goth in me. I like the tats and peircings and dark colors. His dad on the other hand is giving us problems. My son is a beta club, honor roll student, and loves to wear the black eyeliner and the black nail polish and the long chain wallets. Its his personality, and he loves it. But how can I explain to his dad that this IS ok, to just let him be himself?

Oh dear. The Lady of the Manners assumes you’ve tried telling your ex-husband that your son’s wonderful qualities are in no way diminished by his being a Goth. (If you haven’t, start there.) Emphasize the fact that your son is an honor roll student. Try to address any concerns he may have about Goth leading to depression, self-harm, or any of the other blatantly untrue misconceptions your ex may believe. Make it clear that a kid who is happy and secure in who they are is someone who is far less likely to cause bad mischief or go looking for trouble.
However, the Lady of the Manners has to ask: did your ex-husband know of your gothy tendencies when you were married? If so, was he as intolerant of them with you as he seems to be with your son? If not, you might want to point out to him that your interest in tattoos, piercings, and dark colors has done you no harm.

The Lady of the Manners thinks that the best thing you could do for your son is be supportive, and let him know that you aren’t worried about his interest in Goth, even if his dad is. If this means that you and his dad don’t present a “unified parental front” about this, would that be the end of the world? The Lady of the Manners understands that raising a child is even more fraught with difficulty than usual when the parents are separated, but feels that the most important thing is to raise your son to be happy and self-confident. You might want to take a look at some of the other posts here at Gothic Charm School about Goth Parenting, and perhaps even see if you can convince your ex to read them: Raising A Goth and Being A Gothy Parent.

Dear Lady of the Manners,

Generally I find your answers and advice to be well thought out, helpful, and intelligent. However, I have noticed an unfortunate recurring theme not only in your writings, but in the goth scene in general. It seems that goths now cannot think of any worse label than “Satanist”. I have noticed that you often advise readers to explain that they are not Satanists, and the implication is clearly that being a Satanist is a bad thing indeed. What about readers who may indeed be Satanists? Should we simply consider their parents fears justified?

Some people, myself included, have chosen Satanism as their religion, and also consider themselves goth. It certainly would never be considered appropriate to behave derisively towards Christians, Wiccans or anyone who is a part of any other recognized religious group. Why should Satanism be the exception? While I certainly don’t need anyone else’s approval to decide how I live my life, the constant “not a Satanist” is becoming a little old.

I look forward to your response.

You’re right, the Lady of the Manners fell into the trap of using a misleading, and populist definition of Satanism. One that equates Satanists with a level of violent and debauched behavior that should never be casually used as a blanket characterization of a wide variety of people. For that, the Lady of the Manners offers you an apology.

This, Snarklings is a prime example of how using labels can go poorly. And, just as the Lady of the Manners struggles to fight misconceptions of how Goths are perceived as dangerous or depressed, she should be more careful in order to avoid spreading those same sorts of potentially inaccurate generalizations about others who lead an alternative lifestyle or identify with a non-mainstream religion.

From now on, the Lady of the Manners is going to try to be even more careful with her choice of words, which, really, is good advice for anyone.

With that, Snarklings, the Lady of the Manners is going to go back to sorting through the Gothic Charm School mailbox and trying to decide what topics should be addressed next. Goodness, you’ve been sending a lot of letters! But that’s good, so please, do write!

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