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The Curse of the Hip Parent

April 27, 2010

Dorky parents get all the grief, but you know what’s worse? Cool parents. I know this guy–a vague acquaintances–who’s so hip you can’t believe it. He’s got the sneakers, the right jacket, the right iPod playlist, the whole thing. Just talking to him makes you want to run out to the nearest Goodwill and improve your character through ironic T-shirts. Only kidding. What you really want to do after five minutes of self-serious conversation is pants him in public (his skin-tight lady jeans would make this a challenge, but with enough anger you can do almost anything). He’s in his 40s, and he’s a creative director at an ad firm (they’re always creative directors at ad firms). And because of these two facts, his hipness is set to an even louder volume–you see, advertising is full of young people, so if you’re middle-aged you have to try even harder.

Anyway, this guy’s got an ordinary name–let’s call him John–but he wasn’t about to make that mistake with his kids, so when his son was born he chose something really cool–let’s say Pilot. Pilot, who’s about 7, is less a child than a prop for John. When you’re as hip as John, absolutely everything has to advertise your hipness. I think under the best of circumstances Pilot would be a feral little spaz, but John’s approach to parenting makes it all worse: Pilot wears skinny jeans, Vans, has a shaggy, oily mop of hair, and usually wears some sort of retro T-shirt–Bruce Lee is a favorite, Miles Davis, what have you. It’s preposterous. Pilot once showed up at a 7-year-old’s birthday party with nunchucks. Sure, you’re thinking: What the fuck is a 7-year-old doing with nunchucks? How can a 7-year-old have anything like the judgment–not to mention motor skills–to properly handle nanchucks? But you’re just thinking that because you’re a dork. Anyone can simply deny their child’s request for a deadly weapon, but that’s so square.

Most parents would refuse a 7-year-old’s request for nunchucks (which would be the natural product of a forced viewing of Enter the Dragon), but here we have the problem: Too many modern parents (especially the ones who weren’t cool at the ages when being cool mattered the most) value their own coolness over doing the right thing as a parent, and they can justify any decision they want to make by seeing it as an example of their own willingness and ability to practice nontraditional parenting. This is a problem that past generations, for all their failings, never had. Adults were adults (they got the nunchucks), and kids were kids. These days, the lines have blurred, and I can’t help but think the trend pops up in a lot of places–like here and here, for instance. No word if any of the kids at these parties had nunchucks. Let’s assume yes.

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