Tuesday, October 16, 2007
If you follow parenting trends you may have heard about a Gen X and Y phenomenon called the Hipster Parent . The term, whose icon some believe is writer Neal Pollack , author of Alternadad , refers to parents who refuse to accept "traditional" parenting roles and engage their kids in enjoying their definition of "cool" music, clothes and experiences.
In preparing to share my take on the Hipster Parent movement, I read several articles. One of them included my favorite line on the trend. While referencing those parents who champion indie music, closets full of retro sneakers, T-shirts with alternative messages, and toddlers, the writer noted, " As they say on Sesame Street , one of these things is not like the others ."
My appreciation for the line is not to say I feel snarky about parents who do think those four things go together, nor do I think there's just one right path on the parenthood journey. However, there are times when emphasizing the "hipster" over the "parent" makes you wonder when did trying to be cool become embarrassing?
For example, the clothes some Hipster Mommies wear, not in the privacy of their own homes, but at their kids' schools. On school campuses where the dress guidelines include no spaghetti straps, short shorts or inappropriate messaging on clothes, I've seen mothers sporting swaths of midriff, exposed thongs and, my personal favorite, low slung sweat pants with the word "Juicy" printed on the butt. I wonder what her response will be when her pre-teen daughter brings home a T-shirt with "Hottie" on it.
Therein lies the rub for Hipster Parents. No matter how young at heart you are, you're still the parent and the role model. You can dress your tots in designer duds and forego familiar Pooh Bear and pastels. But some things don't change no matter what music you (and your kids) listen to nor whether you spend your free time at an amusement park or at baby yoga.
My guess is most Gen X and Y parents have dabbled in "Hipsterism" with a small percentage clinging to either end of the "cool" spectrum. It's understandable when you consider these generations have more parents who waited to have children and thus spent more than a decade developing as individuals and professionals before they became mommies and daddies. Like teaching an old dog new tricks, the longer you've been defining yourself a certain way the harder it is to let that go , even if you add the trump card of parent to your identity.
I do not consider myself a Hipster by any stretch. I think kids should dress like kids, not little adults. I will not take my young children to concerts or cocktail parties or public events meant for adults, I don't think that's fair to them or the other attendees. And I still think Disneyland is magical, 34 years after my first visit.
Yet, the songs on my iPod include nearly every genre and era from 1940 to today, and several songs chosen by my 12-year-old daughter. My husband and I have both attended concerts with her and we enjoy it. Several months ago I attended a Baby Loves Disco party at a local nightclub downtown. The idea behind these events is to bring parents with young children together to socialize in a & ldquo;hip & rdquo; environment as an alternative to playground playdates. The event took place on a Sunday afternoon when the nightclub is normally closed. There were kid-friendly activities, dancing to a DJ under the strobe lights, juice boxes for the kids, and martinis for the parents. &
Although most aspects of my suburban life with kids are decidedly unhip, I really enjoyed Baby Loves Disco. It had a feel similar to attending a wedding reception (although a bit darker as it was a nightclub) with your kids. Everyone dresses up a little, you get to dance with your husband, you dance with your kids, you meet new people, you eat and drink. It's definitely more exciting than a day at the park and you get to spend some fun time with your family. My kids loved the dancing, especially with their parents.
Can you be a Hipster Parent for a day? I doubt the true believers would think so, but I'd bet you an iTunes download that for most 30- and 40-something parents, sampling & ndash; not being & ndash; & ldquo;hip & rdquo; is the norm, not the exception.