On Saturday night, I was at this tiny lounge in the West Village drinking with a few buddies. On the couch to my left was Alan Cumming. Dancing in front of me was Kristen Dunst. Standing on my other side was Fabrizio Moretti, the drummer from The Strokes.
Meanwhile, my buddies and I were engrossed in a rather serious conversation about how our relationships with our own parents influence how we raise our own kids. Also seeping into the conversation were discussions about the costs of daycare, maintaining a sense of balance in life, and moving to the suburbs.
Suddenly, while looking around at all the surrounding "coolness," I thought to myself, "Oh Fuck! What the hell am I doing here? Am I a hipster parent?"
As it turns out, I'm just a sucker for a stiff drink and some good music.
But all this debate, controversy and sturm und drang about hipster parenting has made me completely paranoid. I detest labels of any kind. Especially when it comes to parenting. So how could I determine whether I was a hipster parent or not?
So, in the interest of self-examination, I created this little poll. Give it a try yourself and let me know what you think:
ARE YOU A HIPSTER PARENT?
Does your child own any of the following "ironic" t-shirts or onesies?
- The Clash, The Ramones, or Sonic Youth (add 1 point)
- Che Guevara or Mao (add 2 points)
- I make my child's clothing from sustainable materials (add 3 points)
- No. They don't sell those at Wal-Mart. (add 0 points)
How would you describe your child's sense of style?
- A miniature version of myself! (add 1 point)
- Betsey Johnson circa 1987 (add 2 points)
- Indie rocker meets Bohemian graffiti artist (add 3 points)
- Baby Gap meets jelly stains (add 0 points)
What is your child's favorite music?
- Radiohead (add 1 point)
- Clap Your Hands Say Yeah (add 2 points)
- His own. He started a rock band with his Park Slope pals (add 3 points)
- The Wiggles (add 0 points)
What is your child's favorite food?
- Edamame (add 1 point)
- Roasted foie gras with a fricasse of cremini & shitake (add 2 points)
- My child is a Vegan (add 3 points)
- Chicken McNuggets (add 0 points)
What's your idea of the perfect family vacation?
- Touring the great museums of Europe (add 1 point)
- Backpacking in Costa Rica (add 2 points)
- Volunteering at the local soup kitchen (add 3 points)
- Building sandcastles at the Jersey shore (add 0 points)
My child LOVES coming with me to...
- Cocktail parties (add 1 point)
- Concerts at the Liberty Heights Tap Room (add 2 points)
- Jivamukti yoga class (add 3 points)
- The mall! (add 0 points)
What is your child's favorite movie?
- Anything by Michel Gondry (add 1 point)
- Anything by Fellini (add 2 points)
- "Manufacturing Consent" (add 3 points)
- "Finding Nemo" (add 0 points)
What is your child's favorite TV show?
- The Charlie & Lola Show (add 1 point)
- The Wire (add 2 points)
- We don't believe in television (add 3 points)
- Sponge Bob rules! (add 0 points)
What brand of diapers do you use?
- gDiapers (add 1 point)
- Cloth diaper delivery service (add 2 points)
- I make my own out of hemp and organic cotton (add 3 points)
- Whatever's on sale at Costco (add 0 points)
What kind of haircut does your child have?
- A shag (add 1 point)
- A mohawk (add 2 points)
- Shaved head (add 3 points)
- Standard bowl cut from Superfine (add 0 points)
How is your baby's room furnished?
- DWR for Kids (add 1 point)
- Eames furniture (add 2 points)
- Homemade crib whittled out of teak (add 3 points)
- Dirty finger-smudged wallpaper (add 0 points)
What's the WORST thing your child could grow up to be?
- A corporate drone (add 1 point)
- An investment banker (add 2 points)
- A Republican (add 3 points)
- A career criminal or an ax-wielding sociopath (add 0 points)
O-14 points: Congrats! You're so down-to-earth as a parent that you're truly alternative! You aren't trying to desperately hold onto your youth by turning your kids into fashion accessories. You know that kids should just be kids. Besides, who has time to worry about all these stupid labels when you've already got your hands full with a household of rug rats, a second job, and trying to make this month's car payment? You'd love to raise your kids to be socially-conscious humanitarians but, right now, you're busy trying to keep them from burning down the house!
15-25 points: C'mon, admit it. You're a little bit hipster. If you take a step back, you know that you're sometimes a little too trendy for your own good, right? You're a little too old and a little too square to be a hipster parent but it's not always for a lack of trying. Sure, the kids love listening to The Cure, but you were secretly hoping that they would, weren't you? Besides, how could they NOT like them? You not-so-subconsciously play it every time you're in the Prius, right? Don't worry, man. It's cool. I won't tell anyone.
26-30 points: You are firmly entrenched as a hipster parent. Odds are you live near me in Tribeca or in Park Slope. You and your kids are best friends. To prove it, you insist that they call you by your first name! You are definitely too cool for school and you mock anything that has the slightest whiff of mass appeal or corporate commercialism. No Disney for you! Dora is the devil! Elmo is a four-letter word!
31-36 points: You practice what I like to call "fascist parenting." You have foisted your own choices onto your child so firmly that he's wound up tighter than a vise. Your choices are your child's choices. And while you think you're fostering free thought, you're really only imposing your own. Your self-righteousness attitude belies an unforgiving intolerance to other styles of parenting. If your child doesn't grow up to be EXACTLY like you, then you will have failed miserably.
I hope that most of you realize that the above is all completely frivolous and is meant solely for the purposes of entertainment. It seems that, when it comes to different parenting styles, people have completely lost their sense of humor. Everyone is so busy labeling other people that we don't realize that, in doing so, we're passing judgment on others. Why do so many people care how others raise their own kids? Don't we have more important things to get our panties in a twist about?
Look, I think most of us parents are struggling with the issue of how best to maintain one's own sense of identity while raising a child. We don't want to subvert our own interests and personalities. Yet, at the same time, having a child is certainly a life-altering event (to say the least!) How do we reconcile all of this and create a sense of balance in one's life?
Honestly, I don't know.
Like most parents, I'm just trying to raise my daughter to be a smart, polite, sensitive, caring, spiritual person with her own identity. Her "coolness" (or my own) is not even remotely a concern to me. Frankly, the whole topic kind of bores the shit out of me.
Parenting is not, and never has been, about being cool. Cool is quite simply not a legitimate child-rearing paradigm. And to hold up it up as such is as silly as parenting according to the principles of phrenology or astrology.
Parenting is the greatest of democracies; anyone can participate. But this stands in direct opposition to some of the very tenents of hipsterism: exclusivity, elitism, superiority. And this seems to be what drives hipsters crazy: the fact that anyone can parent well. The dumb and the smart, the ugly and the attractive. Educated and un-. Democrat, Republican. Liberal, conservative. The hip and the unhip. Male or female, straight and (yes, you conservatives out there who proudly didn't think I was talking to you too) gay. The cool and the pathetic. The lot of them can be good parents - amazing parents. There is no formula for great parenting, no indespensible superficial ingredient.
Because love does not discriminate.
I couldn't have said it better myself.