The Existentialist 4 yo

Generally, the two biggest philosophies in the punk subculture were nihilism and existentialism.

a : a viewpoint that traditional values and beliefs are unfounded and that existence is senseless and useless
b : a doctrine that denies any objective ground of truth and especially of moral truths
a : a doctrine or belief that conditions in the social organization are so bad as to make destruction desirable for its own sake independent of any constructive program or possibility


: a chiefly 20th century philosophical movement embracing diverse doctrines but centering on analysis of individual existence in an unfathomable universe and the plight of the individual who must assume ultimate responsibility for acts of free will without any certain knowledge of what is right or wrong or good or bad

So how does someone surrounded by a subculture steeped in these philosophies manage as a father? At what point does the punk with authority issues assume the authority figure? This is something that I’ve been struggling with for a while now. My four year old daughter recently started a phase where she is pretty much rebelling all the time. Doesn’t listen. Drops the “I don’t like you” bomb at a moments notice. It’s driving me insane.

Here’s where it gets tricky. Part of me is all “you need to listen to me and respect me because I’m your dad”. There is a voice in my head, however that’s like “psh, good for her. She’s just questioning what is morally right to her. It’s her right to not respect your authority, she’s just as much a person as you are”.

The strangest part of this for me happened a couple of weeks ago. I cleared my schedule so that my wife and I could go meet with her preschool teacher to discuss our concerns over her acting up. How the tables had turned. There we were discussing a plan of action. Her teacher informed us that a large part of the confrontation stemmed from our daughter being super smart. Congratulations, you have a genuinely smart kid that knows how to manipulate situations. Yay. Expensive schools and hair plugs are in my future. The other side of this is her trying to ask for boundaries. She’s raging against us so that we can show exactly how far she can go. Come again?! Conclusion: kids are weird.

A I guess I should be proud. My kid is apparently ahead of the curve. She is actively questioning the world around her and trying to figure it out. In writing this, I am noticing that I should probably lighten up a bit and encourage her more. I mean, didn’t I spend most of my formative years doing the same thing? Questioning authority, trying to make sense of a world that doesn’t make sense. So she’s doing it at four. Good for her. But, for the love of the gods, could she just go to sleep without fighting so hard?!

Recommended track list:

Pennywise: Fuck Authority
The Clash: Fought the Law
Alkaline Trio: Cop


One thought on “The Existentialist 4 yo

  1. I was smiling as I read your description of your daughter. My first daughter was very much the same. Totally bright and righteous. She still is. Good luck. I learnt so much from my kids, they taught me all the lessons I didn’t learn from my own parents. 🙂
    Loving them unconditionally is the key, then a boundary imposed for their own safety etc will be accepted and not challenged as they know where you’re coming from. (And I’m not saying you don’t love her unconditionally, btw, but no matter how libertarian we all espouse to be, we all adopt a parent agenda’ sooner or later.) Anyway, enough of the doctor Spock shit. My kids loved jumping around to Stiff Little Fingers… and still do!

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