…Not Weak Like Dad, Whoever He Is Anyway

It’s the latest sortie in the modern left-wing Kulturkampf: a six-dollar shirt from Target for boys that says “Strong Like Mom.” You don’t need me to tell you how various groups of people have reacted to it. The HuffPo says that “Parents Everywhere Are Loving” this shirt. That would be the “everywhere” that doesn’t include Islamic states, China, Japan, India, South America and all the places that haven’t abandoned the idea of so-called gender roles. And the “everywhere” doesn’t include much of the United States, either. In fact, it’s safe to say that “Everywhere” means “Coastal California And Gentrified Areas Of NYC.” Those are the only places that matter, you know. It’s no coincidence that another shirt in the same clothing line says “Brooklyn” on it. That’s the modern-day Brooklyn-as-playground-for-white-people, mind you, not the Brooklyn where my father, grandfather, and great-grandfather lived, where you didn’t bother to buy a radio in your new car and you didn’t let your wife leave the house after dark.

On the other side of America’s cultural divide, a lot of people are writing about the “feminization” of boys, the “War On Boys”, and similar topics. It seems obvious on the face of it that this is a shirt for you-go-girl types, the mothers who were on “Slut Walk” in 2008 and in the maternity ward come the spring of 2009. It’s virtue signaling, both for the moms and for the feckless, terrified fathers who acquiesce to this shit so they can be excused from the table to play video games until Mom has finished reading her favorite part of Fifty Shades Darker and diddled herself to sleep.

But I don’t want to talk about any of that. I don’t even want to talk about the hugely unpleasant message that you send when you dress your First World child in a six-dollar-retail shirt that almost certainly exploits the labor of children, indigenous people, and other disadvantaged groups. I mean, if American Apparel can’t keep its head above water charging $39 for shirts that were mostly sewn by “undocumented” immigrants in the old Los Angeles warehouse district, I doubt that Target has managed to ensure the availability of clean drinking water and safe working conditions for the six-dollar shirt factory. In fact, I’ll betcha that it’s one of those “pad check” places where women have to submit bloody sanitary napkins every month to prove that they haven’t gotten pregnant. (Yes, that’s a real thing.)

What I want to discuss is a simple series of related questions: Do parents have a right to use their children as billboards? Do parents have a right to dress their children in a way that reflects the beliefs of the parents and not the beliefs of the children? Where are the lines between identification, exploitation, and brainwashing? Last but not least, what am I, your humble author, doing to my son by including him in what I write?

Until the second half of the twentieth century, none of those questions had any traction anywhere or with anyone. Children were property. They were cheap labor, particularly on the farms that employed the vast majority of people well into the so-called Industrial Age. They could be beaten, killed, enslaved, traded, bought, sold, given away. Like the old joke says: “My daughter said she wanted to be treated like a princess. So I married her to a crazy old pervert in the next village over, to ensure peace between our tribes.”

The Greeks, and many other ancient societies, held that children were the absolute property of their parents until they were of age to become voting citizens. It was perfectly acceptable to kill your own son or daughter if they displeased you or if they failed in some task; hardly any worse than slaughtering your chickens at the end of the season. You might be horrified by that but to my mind it’s a much more logically and morally consistent system than we have in the United States right now regarding abortion, infanticide, and child abuse. As the father of a premature child, I’ve given a lot of thought to this.

If I’d rushed in the delivery room the moment that John was cut out of his mother, then dashed his brains out against a table, I’d be a murderer. If we’d paid a doctor to do the same thing a few minutes before the C-section, it would have been a “procedure” on some “tissue” and it would have been covered under most health-insurance plans. I don’t care if you’re pro-choice or pro-life… you have to admit that it’s kind of a crazy distinction to make. It’s effectively legal transubstantiation: the tissue becomes legal flesh and blood the minute it’s touched by external oxygen, unless it’s a partial-birth abortion in which case the oxygen doesn’t “work” the same way. The rules under which the Host was handled in my altar-boy days had the rationality of a civil-engineering textbook by contrast.

Wouldn’t it make more sense to say that you can “abort” a child until he or she can vote? Or that you can’t do it at all? I’m being deliberately disingenuous here. The purpose of abortion laws as they are written nowadays is not to be logical or sensible. Their purpose is to ensure the maximum convenience for the would-be mother, not get out in the yucky weeds regarding the humanity of an unborn child. As a society, we’ve placed the pleasure of sex above the safety or security of children. And it’s going to get worse before it gets better. The nice people at Salon made a push for a while to “normalize” pedophilia. Eventually they backed off under strong pressure, but you can consider it a test balloon. We worship youth, beauty, and sexuality in this society. These urges are too strong, and the potential supply of teenaged and tween-aged sex objects too tempting, to be forever denied to the adults in power. Come back to the website in the year 2057, when I’m long dead, and see if I was right. The “age of consent” is going to be dropped to where it was in medieval times, which is to say it will be dropped to puberty.

In other words, we are back to using children for adult purposes. It was a nice little holiday for kids there, and a short one too. Let’s mark it down as 1950-2000, in certain parts of the Western World only, and unevenly distributed within those borders. But the holiday is over. Time to get to work. If you’re lucky, it will be the maquiladora. If you’re unlucky, it will be after school in your teacher’s office. (Yes, that happens all the time, too.)

Obviously, putting a shirt that says “Strong Like Mom” on your son is much less abusive than any of the things discussed above. But I would suggest that it is still abusive. You are forcing your child to wear a billboard that expresses your views, whether they are shared by the child or not. It’s an unpleasant, shitty thing to do to your kid. The people who are dragging their children to Trump-related marches and making them hold signs are just as loathsome, regardless of which side they’ve chosen. Seven-year-olds don’t have an opinion on gender relationships or pussyhats or Donald Trump or the fight for $15. They are children, not billboards.

Ah, but. When I was at Sebring last weekend, I bought my son a Sebring shirt. I didn’t ask him if he wanted a Sebring shirt. I just bought it and gave it to him. Maybe he doesn’t want to represent or promote Sebring, you know? Maybe he doesn’t have the slightest interest in racing, or BMX, or any of the things that I drag him around to. Maybe he wants to wear a pussyhat and fight for $15. Maybe he wants to major in modern dance and wear a leotard and live with a young Basque farm hand in a London flat.

You might say that a Sebring shirt isn’t political, but it is. It promotes a particular lifestyle, one that many people feel is climate-ignorant and toxic-masculine and resource-intensive and unnecessarily dangerous. By wearing a shirt with Sebring on the back, my son is unknowingly endorsing a activity where I spend the average annual wage of a Pakistani family to burn a hundred gallons of CO2 and consume more resources every hour than an indigenous tribesman in Papua New Guinea would consume in a lifetime. If he winds up being a climate scientist or a Greenpeace volunteer, he’ll look back on that shirt with distaste. I made him wear something that didn’t match his beliefs.

For that matter, who am I to put him in a two-stroke go-kart? Who am I to have him do anything at all? And who am I to write about him, to quote him in stories, to post his photo in articles? It’s worth noting that some countries are permitting children to sue their parents for using their images in social media without consent. I think there’s some logical basis to that. When I was younger, I did not care one bit for having my mother discuss me with her friends. I didn’t like the photos of me she had up in the house. Thank G-d there was no Facebook at that time, is all I can say.

Now, it’s possible that my son will grow up to completely approve of everything I’ve written and done. But that’s a long shot. The best I can hope for is amused tolerance on his part. At worst, I’ll be Lewis Hamilton’s dad, sacrificing my life to advance my son to superstardom then catching a cold shoulder the moment my services are no longer required. But I think there’s a reasonable possibility that John won’t like what I’ve written about him at all. He will want to be free to craft his own image, his own identity, without having to compete against the son I’ve created in my writing.

This is what I can console myself with: many writers have done far more, and far worse, to their kids. Look at what Robert Pirsig did to his son in Zen, for example. He abused Chris in real life then humiliated him in the text. And when Chris was killed fifteen years later right in front of the San Francisco Zen Center, Pirsig had the nerve to treat it as a reasonable closure to a storyline instead of as an eminently preventable death. I hope that posterity will have a more favorable opinion of my actions.

As fate would have it, my son has about three shirts he likes to wear, and he wears them all the time. They’re all junk from Wal-Mart that his mother bought. Completely generic stuff. If I had my choice I’d cut them up and use them for shop rags. But I don’t have that choice. I’m not going to dress John like a mini-me by force. Any time I bring a shirt home, John will wear it once or twice to make the old man happy, then he’ll consign it to the bottom drawer and put his generic Wal-Mart football shirts back on. I’m mostly okay with this. He should wear what he wants.

Which brings me back to the subject of the “Cat and Jack” shirts at Target. I took a look at them. They were supposedly designed with the input of kids, and I believe it. They’re very similar to the things that my son picks out naturally at stores. Dinosaur heads, crocodiles, generic line drawings of cars. The stuff that interests children. I’m all in favor of that. Children should have the choice to wear whatever they want. Even if it’s a shirt that says “Strong Like Mom”. But to put the shirt in front of him and suggest that he wear it… well, that’s like moving the Ouija lens on purpose, isn’t it? Hey, strong moms, leave them kids alone!

50 Replies to “…Not Weak Like Dad, Whoever He Is Anyway”

  1. AvatarBryce

    You also have to realize (As I’m sure you do) that Pirsig suffered from some mental illnesses. However, that doesn’t stop it from being a captivating book.

  2. Avatarrpn453

    I can recall the moment I became aware that clothing can be used to represent a person. I was in the student entrance basement area of my elementary school where we could kill time before the bell or at recess if it was too cold or rainy to enjoy outdoor activity. My jeans had a picture of an airplane on the leg. Not something cool like a P-51 shooting down a Focke Wulf or an F-14 launching a Phoenix, but the sort of cartoonish airplane drawing you might see on a toddler’s outfit. My friends laughed at me and it was the last time I wore those jeans.

    It wasn’t long after that I was the most fashionable kid in my class with all my Airwalk, Vision Street Wear, Vans, Powell Peralta, Bad Boy Club, and Life’s a Beach gear, to name a few. Prior to that, I was just wearing whatever my mother bought me and I didn’t think much about it. I guess she could have used me as a billboard if she wanted, up until I or one of my classmates figured it out. I don’t think it would have done me any harm to have had that realization with a “Strong Like Mom” shirt instead of a silly airplane. Any resentment would have evaporated as I was picking out whatever I wanted at the local skateboard/BMX shops.

    I never bothered to hash out the details of my ideology on the euthanasia of children since our society is so far from that consideration, but ever since our somewhat-local Robert Latimer situation, I’ve believed that parents should have the right to euthanize their children in certain situations. It definitely contributed to making me fearful of having children. I couldn’t imagine spending the time and resources that could be used to raise multiple healthy children on a single, severely disabled one. However, I doubt that it was much of a factor in my choice thus far to not reproduce. I mostly just lacked the imagination to envision a happy family situation. The older I got, the more I recognized how similar I am to my father, and my relationships have mirrored that of my parents. What sort of messages would my children be wearing on their shirts? “Miserable Like Mom”? How about, “Mom’s #1 Distraction from Life”?

  3. AvatarBigtruckseriesreview


    #1 Take a good look around the world, or read about any time period.

    Females (women and girls) are the primary victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and various forms of abuse in countries that don’t have strong centralized governments which place emphasis on individual rights.

    Liberal feminism (as well as LGBTQIA) has ONLY been able to gain momentum in countries with strong central governments that place emphasis on individual rights.


    well let’s look at how LGBTQIA is treated in say…Iran…or Saudi Arabia…or any other Islamic theocracy.

    Or women?

    How about them?

    Let me make my points swiftly and concisely:

    Liberal Feminism is DETERMINED to marginalize the “alpha male”.

    Donald Trump is an Alpha Male. The very thought of him terrifies them because after all the work they’ve done to feminize men (making your favorite star wear a dress Too Wong Foo) and everything they’ve done to change the language: (congressman became congresswoman and then congress-person) (Look out George Carlin)…

    …the ability for Trump to win…at this point…especially after Married With Children was cancelled…TERRIFIES THEM.

    The laws were written by men.

    Women were property of men (and still are in many countries).

    The very idea of “marriage” and “dowry” is designed by men to control woman’s reproductive rights.

    The liberal left WANTS women to be able to have abortions at will.

    The liberal left WANTS to eliminate “slut shaming” (which would cost you your head or a stoning in dozens of countries)

    “age of consent” is designed to keep older men from having access to younger women (explain to me how that works in the Syrian refugee camps puhlease???)

    The liberal left WANTS to inspire doubt in children’s minds as to their gender..

    I agree: any parent who allows their children to choose sex changes before they are mature in thought should be charged with child abuse. Especially considering they may not have developed these ideas on their own (ahem: leftist TELEVISION)

    There isn’t a “war on boys”.

    There is a WAR ON MASCULINITY.

    There is a WAR on White Christian Heterosexual Males – ESPECIALLY AMERICANS (and I’m a Black guy saying that).

    Who’s in the lead of this war?

    White liberal feminists and feminized White males.

    And that is why I support Donald Trump.

    Finally I have a voice…

    In the White House…

    That they can’t silence…

    A rich, loudmouthed White alpha-Male sociopath with a gorgeous male-ordered prize wife and a bunch of kids that look like they are about to go purging.

    He’s everything the liberal left tried to teach me to HATE through Hollywood film.

    But they forgot:

    I was born in the 80’s.

  4. Avatarjstyer

    I feel like there was three separate essays in this, crammed into one… Would love to see you revisit abortion, exploitation of children, values projecting, etc in more focus.

    It’s all related, but man, that was a whirlwind stream of consciousness.

    Or maybe I’m just off of work and my brain is slow. Could be that one.

    • AvatarDjarum

      Yes, it was all over the place. I was at the end confused by exactly the point Jack was trying to make.

      I grew up in the early to late 90’s, and I wore what my mother purchased for me. In many cases it was garage sale stuff from the richer folks. Sometimes it was Kmart stuff. Granted, it never had any “virtue signaling”, but I wore what she gave me, like it or not.

      • Jack BaruthJack Baruth Post author

        I wasn’t trying to make a point as much as I was trying to stir some thought or discussion. Usually when I want to make a point I’m not subtle about it 🙂

    • Jack BaruthJack Baruth Post author

      I was. Did the 6:30AM mass at St. Agatha Church three times a week for three years. I was too ugly and unpleasant to get the high-profile work. It was usually the old Monsignor, who would strike me with the back of his hand when I made a mistake, another one of the bad kids from our school, and three parishoners, until one of them died, then it was two.

        • Jack BaruthJack Baruth Post author

          I was two things as a child:

          * offensively ugly;
          * quick to anger.

          If we had kid-fucker priests in that parish — which, honestly, I would have a hard time believing, they were mostly from the stern-moralist school of priest-ing — then they must have been more interested in the handsome, well-behaved kids.

          • AvatarPaul Alexander

            Yo Jack, former altar boy here. Until sophomore year in high school embarrassingly enough. Like you the priests I personally interacted with 99% of the time while serving were either an old Irish priest who never once even seemed to notice my existence, or the pastor of the church who was a Portugese man that liked to smoke, drink and cuss, but didn’t like to be bothered by kids. So when I started hearing about the priest scandals, I just ignored them. Then I watched a documentary called ‘Deliver Us from Evil’, and lo and behold, it focused on a priest named Father O’Grady who just so happened to be in the same diocese at the time I was in Catholic elementary school 30 miles up the road from me. Dude was actually arrested and sent to prison for what he did, which is beyond horrific. I never heard of it somehow. No one ever mentioned it, yet all the adults around me must have been aware. After that, I discovered that not only was this not an isolated case, but that there were a number of these instances that took place to people around me, including my mother, that I only found out about after starting to talk to people about the documentary. There’s a real culture of silence around all of this, and the ones that know either leave the church, or they stick around and remain implicated in it, so they certainly don’t want to broach it, even if it means putting their own families at risk. The fear of hell is still strong in some, and saving their souls seems to take precedence in a lot of people still. And I found out that I had been put directly in harms way myself, because there was a priest named Father Kelly that used to visit our school from another parish. He’d come to class just to talk to us kids and he was always so friendly and fun. Later on there were jokes about Father Kelly, who would go camping and other things with kids that I didn’t take seriously, and luckily enough I was never alone with him, although I have friends that were (nothing happened to them). He’s now in Ireland, as is Father O’Grady, avoiding arrest on charges of molestation.

            Point being: You might be surprised at what you’d find out if you did a little digging. I certainly was.

            (This is the documentary: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deliver_Us_from_Evil_(2006_film). The same director, Amy Berg, recently did another documentary, ‘An Open Secret’, on a similar scandal in Hollywood, which is not really being talked about but is certainly going on still.)

          • AvatarDisinterested-Observer

            I was in a boy scout troop with a serial molester. Luckily I was a chubby kid and I guess I just wasn’t his type. It is amazing how naive people were though. Grown-ass man who didn’t have a kid in the troop. WTF was he doing there?

          • AvatarDirtRoads

            Funny thing, I was in Boy Scouts and the scout master was gay, as it turns out. Now, that was back in the late 60s to early 70s and when we all found out, we were like “So?”

            We loved the guy. He may have been gay, and back then he had to hide it, but either way we didn’t care. He was just a cool guy. And no, he never molested anyone or any of my friends.

  5. Avatarkvndoom

    When a baby is wearing (insert city and sports team here) on their clothing long before their first spoken word, the parents are already using them for a billboard. When they arbitrarily put pink on girls and blue on boys, they are projecting then as well.

    Don’t parents tell their children what deity to believe in, who they should and shouldn’t trust, whether their friends are worthy, etc.? And don’t they feel disappointment and/or anger when the kids don’t become what they want them to become?

    So hell, if a man wants to let his child project that dad’s a pussy because he won’t contest the clothes mommy buys, all the better. Going into public with your son wearing that is the ultimate cure for any delusions of infidelity.

    Or barring all that, maybe it’s just a good shirt to be worn by the children of the ever-increasing single parent demographic. 😉 Can’t identify with dad if you don’t even know who the hell dad is!

    • AvatarDjarum

      Around here, that Billboard usually Consist of “Roll Tide” or “War Eagle”. On occasion, that Billboard will have the car number of some famous Nascar driver.

  6. Avatar98horn

    It’s particularly galling that the young man is wearning a slogan from Feminism, Inc., which work tirelessly against his interests. It would be like Target marketing a FGM t-shirt for girls.

  7. AvatarRonnie Schreiber

    Do parents have a right to dress their children in a way that reflects the beliefs of the parents and not the beliefs of the children?

    Sure, I circumcised my son. He makes his son wear a yarmulke on his head and fringes hanging out of his shirt.

    I’ve long felt that one of the messages in the story in Genesis of God testing Abraham by commanding him to sacrifice his only son is that one indeed has to be willing to commit one’s children to a cause if you want that cause to survive yourself. The only way values get passed on is when it’s made clear to one’s progeny that those are nonnegotiable values.

    In one of the quirks where history is stranger than fiction, thanks to a Japanese consular officer/spy named Chiune “Sempo” Sugihara, stationed in Lithunia to keep on eye on their German allies, who decided to do the right thing and started issuing visas, about 10,000 Jews managed to find safe haven from the Holocaust first in Japan and later in Japanese occupied Shanghai.

    To get to Japan, though, they had to go through Stalin’s USSR. Entering the Soviet Union wasn’t that difficult but telling some commisar that you wanted to leave the workers’ paradise was fraught with danger. One of the Jews saved by Sugihara was a chasidic rebbe named R’ Shimon Kalish, also known as the Amshenover Rebbe, a wise and clever man. While in the USSR, one of his chasidim approached him for advice about applying for a exit visa. The Amshenover told him, “Perhaps it’s Stalin’s dream that my son die here because he’s a Jew. However, it’s God’s will that my son live as a Jew, which really can’t be done here. To which should I listen, Stalin’s dream, or God’s will?”

    To be honest, buying your son a Dukes of Hazzard shirt at the Autorama is no less a statement of values than putting your son in some pussified Girls Rule t-shirt. I do think, though, that one t-shirt is more likely to produce you grandchildren and the other Norman Bates.

    Maybe the West’s problem is that the Jihadis are willing to literally sacrifice their children to their cause while we in the west give our kids participation trophies so their feelings won’t be hurt by losing a game.


      I personally reject circumcision.

      Nature would not have allowed me to evolve with something that I didn’t need for some reason.

      Circumcision is most likely the old folks way of keeping people from being able to masturbate in the days when there was no lubrication (lotion).

      “They” are lying about the reasons it’s necessary I’m selling it to us as a way to prevent disease.

      If men had evolved and before skin was such a problem that it constantly cause disease of men that they would’ve never been able to survive long enough to procreate or the penis would’ve been so damaged that it would not of been able to serve it’s purpose.

      I’m sick and tired of these filth lying to me…

      Biologically the foreskin acts like a guided sheath to help penal insertion/reduction of friction during sexual intercourse even if the woman is not fully aroused .

      I have never wanted to be an activist but I fully support anti-circumcision advocates To rid the world of male and female circumcision .

      It’s a barbaric practice.

      Though the first thing you learn in cultural diversity class is that ” other cultures are valid”,
      I feel that we need to use the full force of the American military in order to put an end to this madness.

      One country at a time.

      • AvatarRonnie Schreiber

        You can personally reject whatever you want to reject, but unless you’re willing to ban piercing the ears of two year old girls you’re going to have a hard time rationalizing banning male circs in this country.

        It’s a bit of minor plastic surgery, at least the way Jews (and I presume Muslims) do it. My son cried more and longer when he was teething than at his bris. I’ve been to a few brisses and the boy is usually asleep within a minute or two of the cut.

        I didn’t circumcize my son because of health reasons. I circumcized my son because he’s a Jewish male.

        • Avatarsilentsod

          It sounds like BTSR has stumbled across and bought into some odd beliefs conflating male circumcision and female genital mutilation.

          • AvatarWill

            There was a group of people protesting that here in Chicago on the shit (sorry, magnificent) mile, I honestly chuckled. As a circumcised guy, I don’t remember it, don’t know what it feels like and doubt it has made an iota of difference.

    • AvatarDirtRoads

      “Maybe the West’s problem is that the Jihadis are willing to literally sacrifice their children to their cause while we in the west give our kids participation trophies so their feelings won’t be hurt by losing a game.” Good point there Ronny.

      Somewhere recently, wish I could recall, there was an article about millennials who were finally getting out of their shells. The reasoning about them staying in Mom’s basement till 27 was they expected to be given something to do, a job, an income, whatever. Because that’s how school was. You got rewarded just for showing up. Wow, what a great way to fuck kids up.

      Parents never will get it right in everyone’s minds. Hell, even Dr. Spock said he wished he’d never written that book. What the hell…

  8. AvatarTedward

    I really don’t see why the tshirt inspired this kind of reflection. When kids are this young, mine are 4 and 2 for reference, we dress them for our pleasure. It’s a cultural norm…sailor outfits, fake suits, daddy’s girl shirts, you name it. If we let them go lord of the flies here they’d all be naked or wrapped in fleece blankets after all.

    Women like the strong shirt because most of their messaged shirts have a nasty connotation. Momma’s boy is only OK to a very specific point for instance. I really have a hard time giving a shit if they want a shirt that’s really for them to be pleasing to them.

    My wife actually told me she liked that shirt thing last night. I just kind of uh huh’d it, and I couldn’t care less if one of them actually showed up in the house. From my perspective, I’m the bitch if that caused me to throw a fit.

    • Jack BaruthJack Baruth Post author

      The kid in that photo is eight or nine years old. The shirt is available in a size to fit ten-year-olds. This isn’t like putting your two-year-old in a “Future Cleveland Browns fan” shirt.

      • AvatarTedward

        Hmmm. Point. I was projecting I guess.

        Still, I think you’re assuming a bit. I cant disagree with parents raising their kids to believe certain things. It’s a bit of a goal. If this shirt is bought by some mom who forces her awkward kid to wear it and be ridiculed and embarrassed I’d agree with you. OTOH, if some confident kid wears it because he loves his single mom or whatever that criticism falls apart.

  9. AvatarDirty Dingus McGee

    It’s probably good that I never had kids. I have enough trouble dressing myself, never mind a child. Over half of my wardrobe will piss SOMEBODY off. I really don’t care, as most don’t have the testicular fortitude to discuss my wardrobe with me.

  10. AvatarShocktastic

    Using the specificity of the retail surveillance state (credit cards or retail loyalty cards) the immigrants from the countries that Prez Thump was reviled from blocking immigration from (temporarily) should be placed in the zip codes of retailers that have high sales of this shirt. I am sure that refugee men who have scars from penetrating wounds, post-puberty secondary sexual characteristics like facial hair but claimed ages of 14/15/16 would be welcome in households that bought such righteous virtue signaling apparel.

  11. Avatardon curton

    Hmmm. When I was that age, most of my clothes were either sewn by my mom or picked up at garage sales. If we did get store bought clothes, it was usually tough skins from Sears. I survived. My kids got brand new designer bullshit (courtesy of a status conscious mom) and generally act like total shits. After many fights I gave up because I noticed that they only wear the same 3 worn out t-shirts and the most ragged jeans in their closet. The designer stuff hangs unused and eventually gets donated to Salvation army or Goodwill. They’ll survive long enough to buy their own stuff.

  12. AvatarFrank Williams

    A suggestion for you: Take all those tee shirts you’ve bought but that he doesn’t wear much and store them away while they’re still in decent shape. When you have 12 – 15 of them, find someone who makes quilts and ask them to make a tee shirt quilt from them (you’ll need to contact the quilter to see exactly how many they’ll need). They’ll preserve whatever art or logos are on the shirts in the quilt, and you’ll have something to remember your kid’s kid years. Or he’ll appreciate having it to remind him that his dad cared enough about him when he was growing up to schlep all these shirts back to him. My wife did this for our son, and at 30 he can still tell you something he remembers about every tee shirt that went into the quilt.

    • Jack BaruthJack Baruth Post author

      This one happened to be made in the USA. There weren’t too many of those there, however.

  13. AvatarOrenwolf

    What makes you think kids don’t think their moms are strong?

    I grew up in a divorced home from the age of seven, living with my mom. I would have loved that shirt as a kid. My mom worked two jobs just to buy us those sorts of shirts, and unlike your demographics, I guess, couldn’t have afforded anything else. Slave labor shirts suck, but people often forget that parents barely scraping by need alternatives before we go tearing up the status quo. My mom worked *hard* to make sure we never “felt” poor.

    • Jack BaruthJack Baruth Post author

      Ah, but the shirt says “Strong Like Mom”. Not “My Mom Is Strong”.

      My mom was a pretty tough bird. But I didn’t aspire to grow up just like her.

  14. AvatarDisinterested-Observer

    Jack-I agree with jstyer that there seem to be three essays here, so I will only address one. Being fairly paranoid I would be disinclined to be an author, or even hold any public facing position. Frankly I don’t like that my name shows up in a google search of my college advisor’s CV, even though I am several decades removed from the school. Ergo, I do believe it is unwise and unfair for you to talk about and post pictures of your son, no matter how innocuous or even flattering they may be. Of course I get itchy when other parents take pictures at birthday parties, so what do I know?

  15. AvatarJeff Zekas

    Raising kids versus brainwashing them, that is the issue. Last night on TV a bunch of adult stooges were screaming at a town hall meeting. The liberal interviewer went up to a kid, and it sounded like a tape recording, as the kid recited, “We love immigrants and we want more of them to come into Alabama.” The kid was young, and it was obvious that his parents had been teaching him this well phrased mantra. Do they have a right to do this? Sure. But does it scare the crap out of me? Yes, because the “real” Hitler youth are the leftists who are burning down Berkeley, rioting every time a thug gets shot, and crowding town hall meetings with screaming puppets, thus forgetting that half the country DID vote for the not-a-crook candidate.

    • AvatarSloomis

      Raising kids IS brainwashing them, whether you’re liberal or conservative. What parent raises a child without trying to instill a particular set of values in them?

      • AvatarWill

        You can teach them to think which is the most important part; people aren’t being taught to challenge ideas regardless of party or ideology.

  16. AvatarSloomis

    Odd that all these self-styled “alpha males” are so intimidated by women. Really, if you guys were all that tough you wouldn’t be so threatened by women asserting themselves.

    • Jack BaruthJack Baruth Post author

      The concern here is what happens to our children, not what happens to any self-styled “alpha males” who were raised to be deferential and kind to women anyway.

      It’s possible to be a very tough guy and be frightened of women, or have difficulty dealing with them. The best street fighter I ever met, a guy who could knock multiple grown men out when he was sixteen, and who at the age of forty-six just won a heavyweight MMA event, used to sit in his living room and sob like a baby when his girlfriend argued with him.

  17. AvatarJoseph Hertzlinger

    The abortion rate has been dropping for the past quarter century. By 2057, it will be so low that the Left of that era will try blaming the abortion epidemic of the late 20th century on capitalism.

  18. AvatarDirtRoads

    OMG Jack I ahven’t even finished the article and you triggered Zappa here:

    “It’s virtue signaling, both for the moms and for the feckless, terrified fathers who acquiesce to this shit so they can be excused from the table to play video games until Mom has finished reading her favorite part of Fifty Shades Darker and diddled herself to sleep.”

    That triggered “Harry You’re a Beast”:

    You paint your head
    Your mind is dead
    You don’t even know what I just said


    You’re phony on top
    You’re phony underneath
    You lay in bed & grit your teeth


  19. AvatarDirtRoads

    Before I got remarried, I had a t-shirt that said “I’m not a gynecologist, but I’ll take a look.”

    Somewhere along the line it disappeared. I have no idea where it is. *shrug*


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