Of Dealing With Your Parents

Snarklings, this it. This is the post in which the Lady of the Manners is going to attempt to address THE question that arrives in the Gothic Charm School mailbox the most often. Now, the Lady of the Manners has indeed addressed this question before, in various ways, but this is going to be the comprehensive answer to this dilemma that so many of you young Snarklings are facing.

The dilemma? Parents not approving of or letting you be a Goth.

First things first: if you are attracted to finding beauty in darkness, if you are fascinated by the macabre, the grotesque, and the morbid, if the music, literature, and aesthetics of Goth have wrapped their inky black tendrils around your heart, mind, and soul, then no one can change that or take that away from you. (Unless, of course, your tastes change, as sometimes they do, and that’s fine too.) If you have found a home in the Goth subculture, your parents expressing their disapproval or dismay at what appeals to you isn’t going to change that. No really, it isn’t. You may have to downplay your interest in the culture and its trappings, you may have to wait until you are off at school or have moved out on your own, but Goth isn’t going anywhere. It’s an artistic movement that has been around, in one form or another, for centuries.

However, the Lady of the Manners also knows that she’s being a trifle disingenuous with that answer, because that’s not really what you young Snarklings are asking for help with. You want to have your exterior represent your interior; you want to dress the part and be able to look like the fabulous creatures of darkness that you are in your hearts. And that is what your parents tend to object to. For example, there’s this letter from Mary-Sue:

Dear Lady of the Manners,

I told my parents I was Goth and they just laughed. They insisted that no, I was not Goth, and that yes, it WAS just a phase. I tried telling them about some great videos on YouTube by kazlovesbats, SebastianTheGirl, LeahMouse, and you, who were all saying generally the same thing about the subculture, but they didn’t want to see any of them, and they wouldn’t listen to anything I myself had to say. This pretty much sucks because I want to dress in black, and studs, and have the makeup, and all the other stuff I think is cool-looking, but I’m broke and have no car or life, so I can only go shopping when and where they take me. What do I do to make them see this the way I do?


Now Mary-Sue did one of the things the Lady of the Manners would have suggested, which was to show her parents videos that explained about the subculture. Alas, they weren’t willing to watch them, and weren’t willing to listen to anything that Mary-Sue had to say. So turn things around. Ask your parents what are their objections to Goth? What makes them so sure that you aren’t a Goth and that it is just a phase?

The “just a phase” comment is something the Lady of the Manners has wanted to come back to for a while now, actually. For many in the Goth world, being told that “it’s just a phase” is exasperating because we know that it isn’t. To have something so important to us dismissed as a passing fancy makes us feel like the person saying that is ignorant (willfully or not) of an aspect of ourselves. This is especially disheartening and hurtful when it comes from people who have known us for all our lives, and who should have a better understanding of what is important to us. Not to mention the subtext of “it’s just a phase” — that this interest is shallow, frivolous, and that we’ll “grow out of it” — is laden with condescension and scorn.

However, for some people, Goth is “just a phase”, and there’s nothing wrong with that, either. Not everyone who develops an interest in the spooky and the macabre forms a lifelong attachment. Some people want to explore the subculture and then drift away from it as other things attract their interests. Let the Lady of the Manners repeat herself: there’s nothing wrong with that. It doesn’t make those people “poseurs”, and it doesn’t make them deserving of ridicule, it just means that they’re trying on identities and interests until they find the things that really speak to them. Not everyone knows, deep down to the marrow of their bones, who they are and who they want to be, and one of the best things about life is that there are millions upon millions of chances to discover and learn about new ideas. If someone was once interested in Goth but eventually decides it’s not for them, that’s fine. The Lady of the Manners just hopes that those people understand that for some others, Goth is not a phase, but something we stick with for our entire lives.

As to parents saying “it’s just a phase”, the Lady of the Manners has a question for them: So? So what if your child’s interest in Goth is a phase? Do you dismiss everything they show an interest in as “just a phase”? Wouldn’t it be better to ask your child to explain their (possibly to you) newfound fascination, so you can find out what draws them to it, and you can have a better understanding of who they are and who they want to be? Take this opportunity to have a conversation about what they like, about what fascinates them and what motivates them to explore these shadowy corners of the world. Encourage them to learn about the history of Goth — not just the music and subculture that grew out of the end of the punk era, but the historical, artistic, and literary roots of the Gothic movement. There really is more to it than strange music played by people in eccentric black clothing, and learning about the world is never a bad thing.

Gwyn Grim has found a way around her parents’ disapproval of her Goth wardrobe:

Dear Lady of the Manners,

I’m in love with goth culture and I’ve been drawn to it since I was 2 years old. But my parents are very disapproving of the culture, I suppose Marilyn Manson set a bad example. I’m always searching through eBay for the most beautiful dresses, nothing too elaborate but just enough. Simply knee-length lace corset dresses. What I’ve been doing is my brother buys the dresses and ships it to my best friend, and I keep the dresses there and I don’t wear them around my parents. It gets quite tiring though and I dunno what to do. I feel like a fake I suppose because I can’t dress this way around my parents. What should I do? Is there an indirect way to get my parents to be more accepting?

~Gwyn Grim

The Lady of the Manners is shaking her head in a fond and indulgent manner at you, because your clever way of indulging in your gothy finery is actually a long-standing tradition in the subculture. The Lady of the Manners has strong memories of some of her friends coming to school dressed in a normal, unremarkable manner only to transform themselves with the clothes and makeup they had brought with them in their messenger bags. And yes, they made very sure to reverse the process and don their camouflage before they returned home every day.

Does the Lady of the Manners condone such subterfuge in order to dress the way you want? Mmm, in a way. Sartorial self-expression is an important thing, and there are many people who never feel confident or secure enough to dress the way they really want to. The Lady of the Manners doesn’t want to encourage any of you Snarklings to out-and-out lie to your parents, but does feel that having an “away from home” wardrobe is not a horrible crime. But as Gwyn Grim says, it does get quite tiring to be constantly switching back and forth.

Are you a fake because you can’t dress the way you want to around your parents? Good heavens, no. How Goth you are is not determined by your wardrobe. The Lady of the Manners realizes that her saying this will be a bit of a shock to some people, what with her well-known devotion to elaborate clothing. But being able to indulge in inky black clothing is not a sure sign that someone is a Real Goth; it just means they don’t have to suffer the limitations of dress codes that other people do. As the Lady of the Manners has said before, Goth is a matter of aesthetics that encompasses many things. A person could drape themselves in all the black velvet in the world and live in black eyeliner and lipstick, but if they don’t have an appreciation for (or at the very least knowledge of) the music and literature that were the catalysts to summon this subculture out of the formless darkness, then they’re not quite Goth. An interest in the shadowy fashions can absolutely lead someone to discovering the Goth world, but those shadowy fashions are not the be all and end all of the Goth subculture.

How to get your parents to be more accepting of your interest in Goth? The thing the Lady of the Manners always suggests: talk to them. Find out why they object to Goth. Many parents are hesitant about their children expressing an interest in Goth because the very foundation of the subculture is about exploring and examining ideas that are not always happy, ideas that make people feel unsettled and uneasy. Parents, with the best of intentions, want to protect their kids from that for as long as they possibly can, even if that protective attitude isn’t actually helping anyone. Another objection many parents have with regard to Goth is because of the image of Goths as dangerously decadent types, and if their child shows an interest in Goth, it means they’re growing up “too fast”, and becoming someone that the parents have no idea how to communicate with.

So talk to them. Arm yourself with examples of family-friendly Goth media such as The Addams Family, The Munsters, the character of Abby on NCIS (a friendly, professionally-successful Goth on mainstream TV!), Beetlejuice, The Nightmare Before Christmas, or Emily the Strange. Play them songs by The Cure, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Voltaire, or Rasputina. Point out to them that the Goth label applies to literary classics such as Dracula, Wuthering Heights, and everything by Edgar Allan Poe. (And of course, you could hand them a copy of the Gothic Charm School book or have them watch the Gothic Charm School videos!)

Tell them what sparked your interest in the Goth, why it resonates with you, and why you want to express yourself that way. (An aside: telling your parents that you like Goth because it’s “edgy”, “so hardcore”, or “it’s black like my soul” is not going to set them at ease.) Point out to them that exploring the Gothic subculture involves reading classic literature, studying history and art, and encourages people to think for themselves and become who they want to.

Alas, the Lady of the Manners does have to tell you there is a chance that no matter how calmly and clearly you explain yourself and how many examples you show to your parents, they won’t budge in their opinion that No Child Of Theirs Is Going To Be A Goth. So then what can you do? As the Lady of the Manners said at the beginning of this lesson, you may have to wait a few years to fully become the gothy creature you long to be; that you will able to sneak in the music, the books, and the general ideas of Goth into your life, but that you may not be able to completely express yourself in the way you want. Yes, that’s a frustrating idea. If you feel so strongly about it that you are willing to deal with arguments and recriminations from your disapproving parents, the Lady of the Manners wishes you luck and emotional resiliency. She just wants to remind you that your gothness is also not determined by how much you rebel against your parents’ wishes, and that sometimes adopting a veneer of “normalcy” is worth it to keep the peace at home.

Then there are the letters that make the Lady of the Manners’ heart ache for the babybat writing in, such as this one:

My mom is CONSTANTLY on my case about what makeup I wear. I’m shy of 13 (I’m still a babybat) and even though I have told her I don’t care what others will think of me, I still get lots of backlash from her with her telling me society will close doors for me. NOT TRUE. Yes, I’m pale, but that doesn’t mean I have to wear light makeup. I like dark makeup. She has told me I look like a slut and no boy will ever like me because I look like, and I quote, a fucking zombie drag-queen that got punched in the eyes. I’ve tried calmly talking to her and my dad, but nothing has worked. She still is so critical. I still get straight A’s, excel in my music and athletics, and she focuses on what is on my face instead of my good qualities. What should I do?

Sincerely, a desperate babybat

Darling, the Lady of the Manners needs you to show this section of the post to your mother right now.

Dear mother of the desperate babybat: what on earth are you THINKING in saying such things to your daughter? No one, NO ONE deserves to have such things said to them, much less your own child. You may not like how she wants to look, but that does not mean she deserves to be called “a fucking zombie drag queen” or any other rude, hurtful, disrespectful things. Children are not clones of yourself, they are their own selves with their own interests and tastes. Lambasting them with cruelty for being different isn’t going to change the way they are, it’s going to make them withdraw from you and leave lasting emotional scars. Why would you want to do that to your child?

For the babybat going through this: be strong. Try to keep in mind that your mother is almost certainly saying these things out of fear, because society does try to freeze out the people who are different, and she probably wants to save you from strife and hardship. She’s going about it in a horrible way, but at the heart of it, she probably thinks she’s being cruel to be kind in a “tough love” sort of way.

What should you do when your mother talks to you like this? In as calm and dignified a manner as you possibly can, tell your mother that you don’t agree with her, that you do not deserve to be spoken to like that, and (if at all possible) walk away from her. Go to another room, go for a walk around the block, but make it clear you will not stay there and be insulted. If it’s not possible to walk away and end the conversation, do everything you can to stay calm and keep repeating “I don’t agree with you.” Avoid getting into an argument if you can, and keep reminding her of the good (better than good, amazing!) things you are doing with your grades, music, and athletics.

Finally, if your mother keeps belittling your appearance and hurling insults at you, you may want to think about going into stealth Goth mode for a while, and give up makeup entirely. No, it’s not a thrilling prospect, and the Lady of the Manners understands that. But if the makeup is the one thing your mother keeps fixating on, then it may be simpler to save expressing yourself with cosmetics for a few years; while the Lady of the Manners dislikes the phrase “wait until you’re older”, your mother may be less hostile about your cosmetic choices when you’re in the middle of your teen years as opposed to “shy of 13”. And let the Lady of the Manners assure you that your gothiness will not vanish just because you aren’t able to indulge in dark shades of makeup. There are many gothy people who don’t wear any makeup at all; black eyeliner is not a prerequisite for being a Goth.

In a perfect world, none of this would be an issue, and your parents would allow you to explore the shadowy world of Goth and encourage your self-expression, instead of trying to squash it in the name of fitting in. There are enough other people in the world who will try and mold you into what they think is right without your parents attempting to do the same. So, Snarklings, be true to yourselves and remember that no matter how frustrating things get, there are others out there like you.

And to drive home the point that there are others out there like you, that you aren’t alone: comments are OPEN. Moderated as always, but open. So please, show each other some support.

This entry was posted in General, Growing Pains, Serious Matters and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

92 Responses to Of Dealing With Your Parents

  1. Amber says:

    Laura, I feel you on the adult bullying.
    I work the night shifts at a small town convenience store where I have to wear a dark blue polo shirt and am not allowed to wear “outlandish” accessories.
    I am a very petite young woman with a “doll face” (or so I’m told) and people are always shocked that I PREFER the night shifts. When these people find out that I am of a Gothic nature, they generally insult me and/or ask me why I “want to be a weirdo”. I just laugh at them because I take being called weird as a compliment!
    But I do have quite a few customers who like me because I’m a really sweet person. These are the people who jump to my defense saying that it doesn’t matter what I dress like because it’s what’s on the inside that counts. They also like to point out that I’m very mature and responsible while most young women my age (23) in our town are into drinking, partying, and screwing any guy who’ll have them. Please excuse the crudeness of that last part but I can’t think of a better way to put it!

    Oh, dear sweet Mary-Sue! I wish I could hug you, darling, as you seem to need a good one! Ah, your mother put up that old argument that “age does not equal maturity”. Well, forgive me for being blunt but, your mother is being immature by more or less saying that all ElderGoths are immature. Also, in my opinion, it is very immature and childish to judge someone just by the clothing he or she chooses to don.

  2. Eryn Cherrie says:

    ((Wow, there’s another goth with the exact same name as me…? That is incredible! I’m not alone then.))

    To the Desperate Babybat:
    Your parents are disgusting for talking to you like that. I’d say steel that heart of yours up a bit. Don’t care about their opinion. I had to do that as well. (My words of hate came from my stepdad and my half-brothers; my mother supported me wholeheartedly). I had to steel up and eventually fight back once I got to high school because of the little “mainstream morons” would often insult the fact that I was the ONLY Goth in the entire school. It’s easy enough to steel up. Just pretend they don’t exist. Focus on the things you know you are good at and don’t let anyone take that from you. Your mother might not want to accept it, but if you just use passive resistance by wearing black more often and refusing to answer her or giving her blunt explanations, she will learn that it is not a phase and this is who you truly are.
    All I have to say in contrast is: Don’t overdo it with the makeup, or you will end up looking rather whore-ish. Learn how to use your makeup properly and experiment once in a while. There are thousands of tutorials for makeup online, and you can even see if you can get into beauty classes to learn how to do your makeup to the best of your ability. And keep it sweet and simple until you get to 16/17… A bit of eyeliner, and some medium shades (purples, silvers and greys are usually the best for brown/hazel eyes; pinks and blues for blue eyes; and greens, greys and pinks for green eyes – .:red falls under pinks:.)

  3. BlacKat says:

    If nothing else, you eventually get to roll your eyes at them. Well, roll them more openly, that is. I have used this on my mother to good effect (Oh are we on about that again? How silly!).

  4. Gene Wirchenko says:

    Dear Lady of the Manners:

    A great topic. I thought that I would weigh in with a discussion about “it being a phase” since I did not recall you writing about it before, but you pretty much nailed it, but let me add:

    Gene’s Rule of Phases: If you can not directly say something nasty about doing something, call it a phase.

    I was into model railroading for a while, joined a few clubs, had fun. If I had not gone back to school and had a grueling schedule, I might have stayed with it. It was a phase. Who knows? I might get back into it at a later date.

    For a while, I had a phase of reading Clive Cussler thriller novels. It was fun while it lasted.

    Christa (#4): I love your comment about how your times into neon colours and My Little Pony could each be called a phase. Cue picture of My Little Goth Pony. Black body with silver mane? In the moonlight?

    Jennifer Izaguirre (#5): I think that being a Goth — or anything really — to prove someone wrong is mistaken. I hope that what you actually did was to be a Goth regardless of what others thought. After all, if you do change your mind about something and you are doing it to prove someone wrong, does that make you wrong and the other right?

    I am a Goth sideliner. My Gothiness is mainly an attitude toward darkness. I like light horror. I like my pink and brown clothes (preferably dark). (You can have my black if I can have your pink and brown.) Have fun.

  5. Monica says:

    Oh boy. My heart definitely goes out to Desperate Babybat. I could fill a novel with all of the hurtful, degrading, and utterly inappropiate things my mother has said to me. I decided I wanted to be goth at the young age of 9, before I even really knew what it meant. Granted, I was already a strange child and oddly enough, it was a horror movie that made me decide once and for all. I remember when I spent my 10th birthday money on a bottle of black nail polish, and she said “I just don’t want you turning into one of those freaky goths”. I had always dressed rather eccentricly, so it was quite easy to slowly incorporate the clothing items I’d been collecting. By the time I was 12, I decided to talk to her about it. At the time, she just laughed it off and agreed to humor my “phase”. Needless to say, I became more noticably goth over time, proving her wrong. There were many times when she would confiscate my black clothing (almost my entire wardrobe) and attempt to sway me. Like I said before, she’s said some horrid things about it. That all started when I was 12. Now, I’m about to turn 17 and I’m still going strong. It got to the point where I just ignored her and did my own thing. I wear what I want. I come home with a different hair color than I had when I left the house. I sport dark makeup. Now she targets my wardrobe less whens she’s awful to me because she’s realized it’s here to stay. My point in telling you all this is that I understand the hurt and the frustration. I watched almost every one of my friends pass through their goth phase and settle on something more widely accepted–and that’s okay. But it wasn’t a phase for me. Even when I had to lie low for a while, I made the most of it. You can bet I went right back to looking like a zombie drag queen the moment I was able to. If you stick with it, they’ll have no choice but to accept it as a part of you. It might take 6 months. It might take until you’re 17. But the time will fly and you’ll find yourself looking back on your baby bat years fondly, thinking “I made it. I’m still here.” And I know this post was a few months ago. Just stay strong. You, me, and all the underdogs will escape the wreckage and emerge into a strong, beautiful being~

  6. Gene Wirchenko says:

    Dear Lady of the Manners:

    “… but Goth isn’t going anywhere. It’s an artistic movement that has been around, in one form or another, for centuries.”

    Could you please do a column on the history of Goth?

  7. S says:

    I adore your articles- just wondering if you could possibly post more often? No pressure ๐Ÿ™‚

  8. Dear The Lady of Manners,

    I am 16 years old in my last year of school and i know the school year for the UK is nearly up but i was wandering if you could help me, here’s my problem:
    ive never been liked in school therefor i hid myself away and pretended to be someone im not, and i dont want to do it anymore, i have some friends which arent goth, but that doesnt put me off them im all about acceptance, and i dont understand why now im becoming myself my parents think its a bit silly being a goth. now dont get me worng i love my parents very much and they have nothing against goths but what should i do i feel like they dont want me to be myself?
    please help thank you so much,
    With kindest reguards
    Hannah-Roxanne x

  9. Desperate Babybat says:

    I got the abuse to stop. How? I threatened to call the cops if my parents said one more hurtful, abusive thing about my gothiness to me. They didn’t believe me at first, that is until I grabbed the phone. They haven’t been mean to me since.

  10. Luiza says:

    Desperate Babybat: If it had to reach this point, than you can be damn sure you did the right thing. And do NOT fall for the old guilt-inversion trick, where you think doing this is not nice, they’re your parents and blablablah; Who wasn’t nice with you in the first place?
    I’m honestly proud of you, you are a fierce individual that managed to stand your ground on a tricky situation! ^_^

  11. abi says:

    hi ! desperate baby bat how dare your mother talk to u like that !!! im going through a similar situation with my mum saying goth is ugly , and my dad calling me a satan worshiper . i know how much it hurts. stay strong it dosnt matter what people think soon youll be 18 and free to do what u want !

  12. Jade B. says:

    To those desperate Goths in need of help that sincerely comes from the darkest pit of my heart;

    I have to hide myself as well. I can’t just say to my parents; “I’m Goth. I love the culture. Buy me some black things. I also want something Victorian style. And a corset dress.” I be D-E-A-D! So, I hide my clothes in my backpack, and changed when I got to school. It wasn’t weird to most of the kids, but it didnt feel right.

    So, I went on YouTube, Vampirerave, and this amazing site, and got TONS OF ADVICE!!!!” But, the three People that really stuck out to me were on YouTube; Kill Natalie, KazLovesBats, and (the one and only) Lady of The Manners! I found they all had ONE video (or website;) on dealing with your parents and their aversion to the culture. I found that, after doing some research, I found the courage to tell my parents, and show them what it was.

    I dont think they accept it as much as I planned, but they are not doing very strong objections. I think, if you keep it minimal *shudders* as I had, you may be able to slowly get more and more Goth, easing them into comfort.

    Hope this all helps!

    ~A Very Quirky Goth

  13. Aerin says:

    I personally consider myself Goth on the inside, though I don’t dress the part. I’d like to, but I’m simply too chicken to talk to my mom and dad. I settle for inner Goth, because that’s what matters most, is it not?

    A message for Goths who are being ridiculed and scorned for being strong enough to do what they want, not what people say they need: You are stronger than you know. You will live through this. This may feel impossible. This may be impossible. But something is only impossible until it is not. (To partially quote Captain Picard from Star Trek) Impossible is a point of view. It does not physically exist, therefore it should have no sway in the physical. Haters will hate, and nothing can stop them.

    A message for any person who have been doing the aforementioned abusing: Any abuse is totally and utterly immature and will NEVER, I repeat, NEVER have a positive effect. I did a report on schizophrenia in seventh grade, and it turns out that home environment can cause an otherwise dormant genetic mutation to show up. Long story short, verbal abuse CAN cause physical damage. If it’s bad enough, it might even cause the abused person to develop a split personality disorder. So STOP.

    To any struggling BabyBats: You have my utmost sympathies, and my prayers.

  14. Storm says:

    Ah, Babybat and Mary-Sue, I feel your pain. I am going through the exact same situation with my parents right now. I am a proud goth, but my parents don’t like it. My mother stubbornly refuses to let me out the door if I have black pants and a black shirt on. Gah! But then again, I am at the tender age of ten, so I’m probably the youngest goth on here. My mother despises the idea of any black clothing. The closest that I’m going to get to gothic right now is eyeliner and a dark shirt or pants. But perhaps as I get older, she’ll let me have more freedom? I don’t know. But I certainly hope so.

    ~ Best of wishes from Storm

    P.S. I’m a girl, in case you’re wondering ๐Ÿ™‚

  15. ChristianHippieEarthMother says:

    First, I love this site. In spite of my screen name, I have a definite dark streak (although you will never get me into black clothes in the summer–bring on the flowing Indian skirts LOL).

    As a mom, I can tell you–and most parents WON’T for fear of putting ideas into your head–what’s scary about goth is the perceived fascination with death. Your folks love you and they’re scared you’re contemplating suicide. They’re scared they might be missing a sign of depression. And they’re trying (albeit in a clumsy way, sometimes) to reach out with help.

    So reassure them that you are reasonably happy, and that will go a long way to reassuring them . They will probably still tease you a little, but so what?

    If you are suicidal, of course get help.

    My own three kids are stunningly mainstream…I guess it skips a generation.

  16. katie says:

    hi, i love your youtube channel. Im trying to understand the goth cultur but sometmes its really hard for me to do so. I am disabled. Im alown a lot of the time so i get very bored. MMY pareents work most of th time. umm, i love skulls n such, but if freaks out my parents to have anything of the gothic cultur in y room, i cant really lie n say i want it bc im learning abut the Human kull or wat not. but they dont want e invalved in any gothic subcaltur.the think it will lead e to hell, basiy fam is very christion n im diffrent from my fam…. how can i get my parents to really understand tat bc ur goth doesnt mean your going to hell?

  17. onyx says:

    Love this artical I am also a babybat and I was scared my parents wouldn’t exept my gothyness so after I found the subcoulter littel by littel I’m dressing more and more goth I started looking at goth stuff more then istarted to tell my mom about the gothic subcolter and diffrent type of gothes and she said “you can becky you just can’t be a scary goth she even started helping me pick out a cool bedroom set for our new house and beding and everything she found I love and a minute latter relized it was all goth I’m so sry for this girl and wish her parents would just exept her for who she is sry if I rambled but I talk a lot ๐Ÿ™‚

  18. Lily says:

    Weirdly, although my parents were strictly religious and even thought T-shirts showed too much skin, they were totally fine with my gothy tendencies as long as they didn’t involve corsets or PVC. In fact, I remember my mum taking me to an alternative fashion market when I was 12 or 13 – we just looked round and didn’t buy anything but it was pretty cool and seemed like a rite of passage to me. My mum wasn’t a goth but she disliked mainstream fashions, used to listen to The Cure in her teenage years and knew goth had nothing to do with devil-worship (although both my parents are intensely suspicious of pagans, thinking them misguided hippies at best, but I’m not imterested in such alternative religions so it was okay). My parents strongly discouraged any make-up but mascara until I was 13 or so (which honestly I think is fair enough; 11 is too young for make-up), but after that although they would comment on things like black lipstick they never tried to prevent me from wearing them. School dress codes weren’t an issue until I was nearly 17 as here in the UK we have uniforms instead for most of high school. Although there were things I would have liked to experiment with, like corsets and miniskirts, I avoided them until I left home just to keep the peace. I could have been duplicitous and snuck changes of clothes out of the house with me but I never saw the point – I could indulge in most of my gothy tendencies and it’s not like being forbidden to wear fetish wear until I was a legal adult was a repression of my inner being. The only battleground was hair dye – school rules prevented me from dying my hair unnatural colours anyway, but my parents thought that wanting to dye my hair black meant that I was unhappy with and insecure about my natural appearance. They eventually agreed that I could dye my hair as long as I didn’t bleach it, but then spent the next few years sighing over how nice I’d looked with my natural colour! L My grandma told me dyeing my hair would wreck it every time I visited her! Now I’m at university I can do what I want, although I tend to leave the corsetry at home for family gatherings. I’ve come to realise that most resistance my parents had when I was younger was either stuff they applied to mainstream fashions too (like not wanting a lot of make-up on a young girl) or was due to concern I’d be bullied.

  19. John Conlen says:

    My main advice is don’t rush into it. I eased into the Gothic subculture for about 3 years (6th grade to 8th grade) and am still going. Parents usually accept it more that way. My mom even told me I could borrow her black nail polish!(I’m a guy) To the babybat just try to lay back on putting a ton of makeup on. A small amount still looks great.

  20. Kat Melrose says:

    My heart goes out to all these people. I’m almost 15 and I’ve been in the punk-goth scene since I was 8 years old. My parents have NEVER been supportive, and often say things such as what babybat has had to endure. I however, have never cared what people think of me and yes, that includes my parents. I wear a lot of black and leather and chains, but when I’m feeling feminine, I indulge in long floor length lace skirts and ruffled blouses and the like. Your parents are wrong when they say things like you won’t get a job, because I have had so many people request that I help out with various events and babysit their children. And I am what most people call scary (for a 14 year old girl). My hair is short in the back, long in the front with the sides shaved, dyed red-black. I wear black pants or skinny jeans as they’re referred so tight they can compete with KISS’s clothes, chains, corset styled shirts, steel toed combat boots, and leather jackets. Not to mention my make up, three ear piercings, and lip stud (I did two of those myself without permission, and I wouldn’t suggest it). I have excellent grades and am well liked by the majority of my school. IN fact, I kid you not, lots of people at my school have grown backbones and let their inner darkness out because I seem to have shown them that being different isn’t a bad thing. Parents and kids adore me, and are constantly asking for my advice on clothing and hair. I have had so many people ask me to cut their hair after they have observed the results. Now, that doesn’t mean everything is peachy. I’ve been asked if I’m a Satanist, or told to kill myself, but I just ignore it. Things have even gotten physical (I’m a scrapper and won’t back down from a fight). So yeah, your parents might throw a hissy-fit (mine do every morning when they see my clothes), and you will probably get crap from other people about it, don’t be discouraged. Laugh at the people who are scared of you or make fun of you because the reason they’re doing that is because secretly they are jealous. And no, I don’t mean they wish they had your killer boots, I mean deep down, they are jealous because you are braver than they are and you are willing to put up with a bunch of crap to be true to yourself. NOT SAYING YOU SHOULD BE ALL, “F*ck you” to your parents, because as your parents gave birth to you and do deserve respect, but don’t let them be in charge of who you are. Good luck x

  21. Amy says:

    Baby bat, I feel your pain. My mother and father aren’t very supportive of my choice to be Goth either. Just wait till you move out. Then they have no say in your life. That is what I plan on doing. I am Goth at heart, but can’t express it because my parents the me I am a “a devil worshipper” or I’m “looking to join a cult.” The opposite is true! I am a Christian and wouldn’t dream of doing drugs or drinking. But they assume it is an all or nothing life style because a few Goths may drink or do drugs. Just stay strong Baby Bat, and don’t let them make you change who you truly are.

  22. Mattea says:

    I’m sixteen years old and I started getting into “real” goth about a year ago, after I was an emo-babybat. At that time, I had had a lot of problems. I actually WAS depressed and HAD been self-mutilating. She was doing everything she could to help me, but she was worried that I was Goth! I wasn’t even Goth then, and I told her so, but she asked me, “Then what are you?” I told her that “I’m not anything” but even though I wasn’t Goth, I was upset that she would be concerned by a healthy love of dark things.

    Anyway, now that I really AM Goth, she is still concerned and hopes that I’ll “grow out of this phase soon.” She doesn’t know anything about the subculture, but for whatever reason I’m a little nervous about going to her to talk about it and show her the videos. Sebastian Columbine (formerly SebastianTheGirl), Kazlovesbats, and Leahmouse are GREAT choices and I watch their videos frequently, but somehow the prospect of showing my mom the videos is a bit intimidating.

    She is reasonably accepting now and knows what kind of clothes I like, but has no idea what kind of music I listen to (except for the rare times when I happen to hear The Cure on the radio and start to freak out, but I don’t think she pays attention to that). She knows that I love art and literature, but I think she’s afraid of the subject matter. Almost every book I read has a dark cover on it and has the word “Darkness” or some creepy phrase in it. I read and thoroughly enjoyed reading Jane Eyre (which, ironically, my mom gave me for Christmas). I just think that she is afraid that I’m still depressed, but really, Goth has been much better for me than emo was. When I was emo, I just dwelled on my problems all the time and didn’t express myself in a healthy way. I used to wear a huge jacket with the hood up and hide myself in it, but now I feel more confident in myself and I feel comfortable wearing more types of clothes. I don’t feel right, however, when I wear bright-colored, “cute” clothes.

    It makes sense that parents would be more accepting once you move out because it means that you’ve held onto it long enough that it’s not a “phase” and you have no reason to be rebelling against your parents, as I know they often fear that you may be. Not to mention, they probably miss you if you’ve been away at college, and they want to bring back the part of you they had been denying for so long. Even though they may not have liked your Gothness, they realize that it is/was a big part of you and they regret not having allowed you to express yourself in that way.

  23. Vampire Kitty Cat says:

    Wow, I can’t believe what some parents will say and do!
    My parents have never said I had to be something other than myself. My heart goes out to everyone going through such awful times. Stay strong and don’t loose yourselves!

  24. Ulva Nyx says:

    Dear Lady of the Manners,

    I have recently got in to the Gothic subculture and loving it too but fell like I need to tell my parents about my self, but am scared that they will keep me from doing what I love. My parents are very old fashion and demand full respect. My dad is the one I’m worried about the most on how he would reacted,I know that his brother and sister where or are in to it but they are the rebellious or more opened minded I should say then the rest of his brothers and sisters, my dad he is the oldest and the most loyal to his parents, I will see him look down on his brother and sister if they show a hint of there interest in the Gothic community.My mom her mother my grandma was a hippy and was very open minded person and so I thought my mom would be the same, but when I asked her what she thought about it she didn’t know much about it but what she thought she knew she didn’t like it at all from the type of dress to what she thought they acted, like depressed and fantasist with death.she also didn’t like me asking about it and shut me up after that. What do I do?

    Ulva Nyx

  25. Kitt Smith says:

    I am having kind of the opposite of most of these problems. My daughter is 7. She wants to go goth. Hell, that seems healthy to me. As an adult I have done a million different things with my look as my perspective has changed. My dad let me have pink hair when I was twelve. No harm done. It’s just hair and clothes. I know it means so much more to her than that right now. I just want to help her achieve her goal. The problem is finding cute stuff for her age group. Any suggestions? I am trying to get her a very black Christmas together.

  26. Cherrie says:

    Hey Kitt Smith,

    There are quite a few gothy websites that have started to bring in design for younger children. But a great way I’ve learnt to combat the colour crisis is this amazing product called Powder In-Wash Fabric Dye. Buy an assortment of cute, modest dresses and gothically-inclined styles of clothing, bung it in the washer with the fabric dye, and voilรƒยก!
    I use this method all the time because I buy from thrift and charity. I find something cute and victorian-esque in a ghastly shade of venereal yellow, so I just chuck in a half-cup of black fabric dye with the wash and out it comes black as night…


  27. Lady of the lake says:

    I myself have problems like those of all the babycats that have been brave enough to tell there stories. though have allways been quote ‘different’ i did not discover gothic life till recently. my parents are the best that could i could wish for and i love them with all my heart however they simply do not understand who i want to be. They cannot fathom what it is like to be a goth or are worried about it.. Add to this the fact that i am a-sexul everything becomes differcult.. If i even try to talk about the above issues they change the topic or say the dredfull phrases ‘its just a phase’ or ‘dont let it turn your head’. I told them about, to me the important issue (they will work out the other one when i get to 18 without going out on a date) by expalining steampunk.. It is like goth but as it is a newish thing it has less dark assosiations..
    Hope this helps

  28. well let me start by saying that in my life, I’ve never really learned to express myself nor my feelings and well I am 16 and half of my life has been a series of misfortunate events and the other half has been me trying to find were I belong in this world and so ive gone through a lot of thins and never really had a chance to express myself, because I was either too busy at a therapist office getting prescribed medication for me or I was at church school but recently after a few days of research on the gothic subculture, I found the gothic culture very interesting and I am very drawn to it, and would love to be a part of its community Though well its kind of a problem that my parents wouldn’t accept me. simply because of their religion ( Catholic), which is something I grew up with and was taught that anything dark was “evil” or to be more specific “demonic” and I found that to be wrong or absurd , really I mean ever since I was a young boy I always had an appreciation for dark things. so I really don’t know how to approach my parents and tell them that I am Goth especially since my Mom would most likely freak out or… I don’t know , but I do know that it wouldn’t turn out well. so Lady of the Manners id really appreciate some advice onto how should I bring up the subject o my parents , that I am Goth .

    thank you.

  29. Suki says:

    I’m a girl who wants to go goth, but my parents won’t let me. They have never accepted me for who I am, and I have a similar situation as Desperate Babybat. Except I can’t threaten o call the police cuz I don’t want my parents to blame me even more. And they may even disown me. Idk what to do!

  30. Dakalu Roberts Jnr. says:

    See, I’m just plucking up the courage and doing research at the moment, but I try to hint as much as possible (without being TOO obvious) that I’m into the gothic style, but my mum HATES the idea. I was drawing on my wall and forgot about her hatred for myths and monsters when she came in as I was drawing a detailed death of a dying child fighting against a monster of darkness and… Urgh. Anyway, I’m going to ask my dad for some help so MAYBE I can work something out but… I have supportive friends that are willing to help so I can always message them for some help…

  31. Sarah says:

    This article is a really big help.

    I explained to my mother that I was into the Gothic subculture almost four years ago, and things have changed quite a bit since then. Uneducated and an amateur when it came to Goth, I went through some very cringey and traumatic little phases, sliding around from Goth to “emo” a couple times over the past few years. In the beginning my mom acted totally accepting of me, almost trying to relate. I’ve long since realized this was just an effort to humor my “phase.” I’m in a steadier track now, but it’s only gotten worse. I can relate to Monica, number 5 up there. My whole family objects to my preferred appearance, especially my mother.

    She’s slowly trying to change me into someone I’m not. She refuses to buy me black clothes now, so that’s usually what I save my money for. She uses these little techniques, like complimenting me profusely when I wear a shirt that isn’t black, buying me something dark blue or near-black, or including a small dark item with something light. She even told me how “healthy and glowing” I looked when I got a sunburn at Warped Tour. I’m pretty proud of myself for catching on to her little tricks the second they happen.

    This article really opened my eyes. I had been considering giving up and waging war against the people I live with. I now have a better idea of how I’m going to handle the situation with my family now, so thank you.

  32. helpless babybat says:

    I need some help. I live with my great grandmother, and she is still stuck in the 1940’s mentality, and she belives that women should stay at home, cook clean, and have kids. she also believes that people who are not straight, married, or fit her mentality are crazy. I have to live with that, and she thinks that goth people are the same. I have gadually started wearing more darker colors, and taking the goth mentality and mannerisims. my mother made a comment last halloween that I was becoming goth, something that was subconcous for me. I do not have the courage to let my family know, and I can at the most wear a black dress and some black boots with a small heel because of my vvery little self confidence and my school’s dresscode. can you help me?

  33. helpless babybat says:

    my grandmother (Whom I Have to live with) is seventy-two, and she still believes things like; women should stay at home and have kids, and anyone who wears black and it is not required (my chorus concert or a funeral unless said otherwise)is crazy and should be killed.(no, I am not lying, she even threatened to send me to an asylum) And I have a tendency to stick to darker colours such as navy blue or dark red, and sometimes even all-black! She does not seem to understand the fact that this is not considered crazy (though people seem to think that) today. my mother, who is actually supportive to an extent mad a remark halloween that I was “going goth”, as i was wearing an ouiji board themed dress with black lipstick that year, and i had always sub-concouncly drifted to darker themes and colours. my wardrobe is limited by my grandmother and my school, so i have to stick to darker shirts and dresses. it also does not help since I have very little self-confidence, or confidence at all to tell her.

  34. Please write something about how to ask your parents if you can be goth because I want to ask mine but I’m not sure how to and I asked my mom what she thinks of goth and sh said overrated

  35. Deadlyllama says:

    Hi im a girl 12 years old and in middle school its really hard for me to embrace my gothyness i love alot of gothy stuff i have fishnet arm warmers i wear sometimes black mascara but only a little and i have alot of oversized gothy shirts but people at my school are very judgemental saying im with the devil while others are there to comfort me yes but still im lost and scared i need advice and help asp…any suggestions?

  36. Jason or Jay says:

    Dear Lady of manners I just recently proudly walked away from my old friends and biological family cause they don’t except me for being true to myself they threatened me with police to for no reason so I fired back and did the same they also ruined a relationship I was in with a beautiful goth girl. She may come back but not a guarantee I’m also a prior service marine war veteran. It took a lot of strength to walk away cause they helped me out with some stuff but I got tired of the toxic controlling side and finally broke free. They have done a lot for me but it don’t make up for there toxic controlling side. I’m not rich but I have a good job and my money will grow back in time. I’m also told I’m a handsome young man so I walked away for good and proudly disowned myself so I can stay true. Got tired of the unfair discrimination as as well. Semper Fi from Jay true to thy self

  37. QueenMorticia says:

    Stay strong, fellow teenagers! My parents are Indian immigrants, and they have a lot of cultural biases against anything that glorifies death. My mother is much more accepting, and even steals some of my stuff and lets me borrow hers. My dad on the other hand- he hates it. The black, the novels, the music, etc. he thinks I’m depressed or trying to alienate my culture. It hurts, especially since my only friend at school nowadays is my boyfriend and my debate team mates because my friends no longer wanted to be associated with me when I gained a reputation as “that goth girl”. Here’s to it getting better for us all!

  38. xyz says:

    Unfortunately some parents’ “phase” of hating you being goth isn’t a phase, either. Like QueenMorticia above me I have Asian parents, and mine are very stereotypically so – honour, what the neighbours think, doing what always has been done – and they think that since goth is so “unnatural” it must mean I didn’t naturally find it. My father thinks I’m brainwashed, and me becoming depressed and finding goth are related. Even my teacher at college thinks this, and the support staff asked at an intervention with my parents if I hold occult rituals. If I did, he would’ve woken up the next morning with tarantulas in his pillow. Is there hope? Not for everyone. Persuading them can be done but some parents won’t budge. The trick is just not to budge either.

  39. Dearest xyz- thank you! It may seem like a small thing, leaving a comment on a blog- but it means a lot to me to have proof that I’m not the only goth out there that looks like me or has similar cultural roots! Its hard enough to meet any goths at all in my small town, much less any that are poc. Good luck to you with talking to/ dealing with your family

  40. Alexandria says:

    I always look at there close and I love it I always wanted to be goth but it’s hard cause of my mom. I honestly would love to plan something to trick her into getting some clothes black for me, but of course my mom is smarter than that. I don’t think my dad wouldn’t really have a fit with it though. But my sister’s loves to be goth so she wouldn’t mind at all. But I’m asking you if there is another way cause I can’t purchase something online without asking them cause I’m 12. This is my sister’s e-mail. Cause I’m dying fearlessly get some more important information on this.

  41. Josette Ardellean says:

    I know what it’s like to be judged by a parent, and it’s even worse when that parent is a narcissist that controls your money when you’re an adult. Money is the thing my mom and I fight about most, but one of the other things we fight about a lot is how I dress. She thinks I look terrible while I like how I dress. She pretty much says that my fake lashes make me look like a prostitute, and that my clothes make me look depressed. I’m really close to just telling her to fuck off and let me be an adult. Her control over my money is a huge problem, since I’m worried that when I go to move away for good, she’ll pocket all of my money, leaving me destitute and unable to leave. I’m currently living on a college campus that’s funded by the state (so I don’t have to pay for room/board or my class), but she only lets me get $60 a month. Since I’m saving money to dye my hair, and only allow myself a certain amount to spend on Amazon.com, I barely have any money for laundry, so I’ll wear shirts and pants multiple times, and even air-dry my clothes to limit how much money I have to put on my laundry card. This means no snacks unless I save Pop-Tarts and cereal bars from the chow hall. No soft drinks, iced tea, or flavored water either. My problem doesn’t just stem from being goth, I feel like it stems from me being her only daughter and the fact that I’m autistic, so I feel like it must be discrimination. A lot of autistic people are being discriminated against, and it bothers me. Being goth isn’t cheap, not unless you just wear plain black shirts, black jeans, and low-end makeup/makeup given to you as like I’ve been doing for the past 5 years (I try to dress it up with jewelry). I think I should just do what I can to free myself from my mom’s financial chains so I can move out for good, dress how I want to without having to hide clothes I will obtain over the next few months, and get on with my life.

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