I’m terrified because you are a perfect target for cults. When your Gramma was young, she joined a cult. They separated people from their families, fed them little, sleep deprived them, and made them believe that the central figure was faultless if not deific.
When I was young I noticed similar behaviour in school. In this case, it was a teacher with bad intentions who used all the same tricks to turn the class into his own private cult and he took advantage of select people. Even when he was caught, there were elements of the conditioning left in the class to make people want him to return.
You are growing up in a different age than your Gramma or I,
and in some ways it’s wondrous. The entirety of human knowledge is available to
you with little to no effort. As is the entirety of misinformation and hate
that we as a race are capable of. It means that cults today don’t need a
compound, they don’t need their old tricks. They have direct access to you
through multiple channels and they prey on your fear, distrust, hurt, and
Modern digital cults are cults of hate. They’re not new but they are much more far reaching. I’m scared I won’t have the ability to save you from them; I’m scared I won’t be able to prepare you to defend against them; and I’m scared they will steal you before you know what’s going on.
Your Mum and I do, and will do, our best to raise you and
your sister to think rationally. To look at the evidence, opposing views, and
make a critical decision based on that and your values.
I just hope it’s enough. I hope that in your darkest moments
where you consider joining or participating in these things that you know you
always have us to talk to.
As a parent, my goal is to help you be the best version of yourself you can be. That’s the goal, but on a daily basis I’m usually just trying to make sure you and your sister survive with limited trauma.
You’re on your way, two months now before you get here and I’m
terrified. I feel like I just got used to having three members of the family. I
have no idea what you’ll be like, or how you’ll get along with your sister and
it scares me.
I also harbour a strange fear. I’m not sure how to raise a boy. I’ve spent most of my life surrounded by girls and when I made friends with boys it almost always ended poorly. I often have no idea what to say or how to act around other males. I can count on one hand the men I’m close to and feel comfortable with.
Gender is a social construct, but with it comes social constructs on behaviour and shared truths. I feel like I missed the “male” seminar and that means in groups of men I often feel like I’m missing something. Some subtext that I just don’t follow.
Yes I’m empathic, yes I’m a writer, and yes I am a man. But those are despite my anxieties, not because of them.
All that to say I have no idea how to raise you to be a
good, great, or any sort of a man. Sorry.
What I do know is that I’m going to do my best to raise you
as a caring, intelligent, and good person. It means I’m going to try and ask
myself if I treat you differently than your sister and if it’s because you’re a
boy. I want to make sure you don’t just respect others but have genuine compassion.
No matter what, know that your Mum and I love you and want
what’s best for you,
Brainwashing is no longer considered the reason most people join cults. Instead, it’s theorized that it’s a combination of indoctrination and acceptance that leads people to follow dangerous or benign cults.
Having a child, you go through a similar experience and the two are scarily close.
*Warning* This is meant as a humorous article pointing out the obvious and making exaggerated claims, not as a serious scientific debate.
5. Eating and Sleeping
The human mind depends a lot on its body functioning and reacting in a predictable way. Changing its patterns and starving the body of sleep or food can completely alter the way the mind reacts to situations.
For that reason, cults will often wake up their members every couple of hours to meditate, pray, etc. They will also under-feed or change the eating habits of their members for the same reason.
When you have a child, it does the same thing; waking you up multiple times a night and making sure you never have a warm meal or a meal on time again.
4. Isolation and Inclusion
The first thing that a cult will do is try to isolate new members. If they don’t have a strong support structure, they’re more vulnerable to what appears to be a warm and inviting environment. Once the members are isolated, they make sure that the other members become a new, self echoing, support structure.
When you have a baby, it comes first. A lot of the people you saw all the time disappear into the background and you find yourself meeting other parents at Ikea or the Disney Store.
At first it’s like everyone has abandoned you and then you meet other parents and they understand how you’ve suffered. Suddenly you have a completely new structure of friends.
3. Constant Fear
Cults, and extreme political parties, often like to reinforce how awesome they are by contrasting to an enemy. It could be another cult, another culture, the government etc. Sometimes it won’t be a person or group of people but an event or idea. Conspiracies, end of days, etc.
As a new parent, you will be bombarded by advice from scientific articles, friends, family, and random strangers. Each and every one of which will contradict each other or itself. The advice will be dire and terrifying. One friend will send you something like this, “Using a soother will warp your child’s gums and their teeth will be crooked and ill developed” and another will send you this, “Using a soother lowers the risk of SIDS.”
EVERYTHING will kill your kid or scar them for life and every parent will fight to the death for the thing they believe in.
2. Rituals and Repetition
Cults ingrain ideas and habits by repetition and rituals. Songs, chants, and speeches are common but so are exercises, flagellation, or repetitive actions.
As a new parent, what was once a fun cute rhyme is now a mandatory ritual. A favourite song becomes constant background noise.
Things start needing to be done in a specific order that you were daft enough to not write down and when the diaper is changed after the feeding instead of before, you’re lost to singing extra made up verses of their bedtime song.
Not to mention that watching hours of Pepa Pig, Paw Patrol, or Dora makes you wish for the flagellation.
1. Charismatic Leader
Really dangerous cults have an extremely charismatic leader. Someone who can, with a smile and a well-placed word, make you feel like the most important person in the world. A person so lovable that everyone wants to be around them.
A baby will scream, poop, puke, pee, scream, pull your hair, and hit you with every body part. At two AM you’ll wake up, hearing them make a noise and you’ll beg every deity you’ve ever heard of that they don’t wake up.
Despite all that they’ll look up at you with those big eyes and make a cooing noise that will melt your heart and you’ll instantly forgive them. Their smile makes you feel utterly filled with love and when they snuggle into you, you feel a love like nothing you’ve ever experienced before. (Snuggling may actually be a baby’s way of trying to burrow into your chest to steal your heart.)
One big difference, thankfully, is the fact that parenthood rarely results in mass suicide.