In the mid-seventies, authors of the fanzine Sideburns posted the following, "This is a chord. This is another. This is a third. Now form a band.” And Punk Rock was born.
Music was no longer hemmed in by virtuosity, by production value, by promotion, or by...being able to play actual music. Punk rock asked only one thing: authenticity. A simple, real exchange from one person to another. Parenting involves a lot of exchanges. All day long we “exchange” with our kids. We tell them the rules, we explain why one food is better than another, we encourage cleanliness, we discourage pinching, we talk, we demonstrate, we enforce, we measure things every other minute until they are asleep. And then we discuss what happened with another adult. It is hard work, it is tiring, and most of the time, we don’t think we are doing it right. So…we look to the experts. We read books, listen to podcasts, attend workshops, maybe listen to our own parents — and does this make things better? Usually not. Usually, it makes us doubt more, wonder more, and then search harder. Enter Punk Rock. Free, authentic, real parenting can be found in the punk rock of our time: storytelling.
Get wild and go tell your child a story.But here is the thing: after you hear yourself say something interesting and profound, do whatever you can to continue to get out of the way. Return to boring if you have to, but resist the need to control the narrative and wrestle it to the ground — that’s not punk rock. Let the story smash its instruments and when it seems like it is time to end the story, end it. Walk off the stage with no apologies. Say “The end.” Leave the story alone. The story is smarter than you are, so resist the desire to rationalize it. Don’t ask your child questions like, “What did you think about that armadillo – it sure was angry, huh?” Just say “The end” and then do something else. Later – maybe even a day after — something will float to the surface for you or your child. And something will change. The fear of dogs will be less intense. There will now be sympathy for the annoying kid with the trick bike. Your child will be less worried about the first day of school. You will understand her better. The two of you will be closer. It is magic. It is genius. It works. It is punk rock. So get wild and go tell your child a story.
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