Raising the Spawn of a Subculture
An investigation of gothic parenting.
Goths who have children
are not really discussed all that much within club oriented cliques; they seem to drop out of the scene if theyre not seen going out to all the usual haunts each weekend. The truth is that there are Goth parents everywhere who have children varying in ages from newborns to teenagers.
So what happens when Goths become families? How do they handle raising children in a subculture so easily misunderstood? Or one not typically known for being child-friendly? If Goths are really such nefarious people, as some would see it, could they be good parents? Of course! The true nature of Goths as individuals would be passed on to our children, would they not?
Morbid Outlook sought to interview Goths raising children all over the world to ask, What is it like to be a Goth Parent? The response was overwhelming. The following is only a small example of the wealth of honesty and openness given by the participating families.
A very warm and sincere Thank You from Morbid Outlook to all of the wonderful Goth Parents who volunteered their time to this project. Special thanks and black fuzzy hugs go to Voltaire
and to Darren McKeenan, Editor of Gothic.Net
How has your new family changed your social life?
The good things are that you begin to cherish the quieter settings [rather] than the traditional gothic hangouts [in Copenhagen] Cant just go to a club and let loose if you know the little one will be up at 6 in the morning. There is no mercy there.
Half the time finding a sitter is such a headache that we just dont bother. When we do its for something planned weeks to months in advance.
It was hard for me because when my friends were turning 21 and wanted to hit the REAL clubs and bars I had a 2 year old at home to care for.
How do other parents or teachers react to you? Or strangers that see you with your family?
Some are obviously put off and look at us like we are freakish, but for the most part, I have never had a truly negative experience with total strangers in this regard. I get a lot of compliments actually. Like: What a beautiful black velvet dress your daughter  is wearing!
Teachers seem to be OK with me, although Im sure I am the topic of conversation in the teachers lounge on parent conference day.
Instead of being scary you are now interesting because scary people cant have children, especially not cute babies in pink dresses.
I get little sideways remarks like My husband would shit if my daughter looked like that. To which I reply, Would it make a difference if [her daughters, 13 & 10] were obedient and got excellent grades? Isnt that what really counts? Thats what counts at my house.
Usually, I just let Mars  go and introduce himself (hes extremely out-going). He can win over the densest of rednecks. They fall in love with him, then they lower their defenses and get really friendly.
Some Goths are not known for liking children, how do you handle negative responses?
Ive had a few people tell me to keep our child [4 months] away from them until she is a teen. Im kind of used to people in the Goth Scene with amazingly stupid or ignorant reactions, so I turn it into a joke I threaten to take the kid over to their house when they are being flaky to me, or I use the threat of diaper bombs.
All of my friends love my little boy.  Ive yet to encounter one bad experience with my friends. They wouldnt be true friends otherwise, now would they?
I simply tell them that if they feel that way, then I guess its a good thing they dont have Kids. It really doesnt affect me at all. I do have some friends that I would never ask to baby-sit though.
Some of my friends refuse to hold her [10 months] and are uncomfortable with the prospect of being left alone with her, but they dont mind me bringing her along or changing/canceling plans because of her. They all understand that she comes first with me.
Is your child more tolerant of what others think of as different? (ie. purple hair or piercings?)
Of course. She  thinks this is the norm. All those soccer moms are the strange ones to her. And she loves that her dad has a tattoo for her.
Our kid isnt old enough to form these opinions, but Ive found and it was pointed out to me by Jilli Venters, our Gothic Miss Manners [www.Gothic.net] that children LOVE high contrast colors and patterns. This means they LOVE goths.
Occasionally my oldest son  will ask questions like, Why does Michael wear make-up/skirts when other men dont? However, these differences dont seem to bother him personally at all. Ive changed my hair color and style many times since my oldest son was born, but he still thinks his Mommy is prettier than any other girl.
Mars is completely comfortable around people with far out body modifications because he has never been told that purple hair is weird or that facial piercings are for degenerates. Hell point at someone and say, Papa, that mans hair is purple! and just when he has gotten the guys attention, continue with, I like purple!
What do/will you teach your children about what is Normal?
When the time comes, well teach Freya  to be tolerant of everybody that deserves respect, and that pretty much means everybody, regardless of appearance or ideology.
I just treat things in a very matter of fact way and I try not to censor anything. When he asks me why someone has a ring in their tongue I usually say something like, Because she likes it. She thinks it looks pretty. What do you think? And I let him make up his own mind.
I feel strongly that Kieran  should not be brainwashed into thinking any one truth is The Truth; Id like to guide him enough to find his truth, and love him no matter what. It has very little to do with Goth, but then, not much does at this age.
We will teach her  that appearance isnt important and a person should be regarded on who they are, rather than what they are. Also we hope to explain to her why some people are intolerant and the reasons she shouldnt react that way herself.
Do you encourage your children in artistic or literary activities?
My oldest  is extremely artistic with pencil and paper and my youngest  loves to dance, read, sing and tell stories on her own. My fiancé is a teacher of physics and we together make sure that the girls get as much out of their education as we can give them.
Yes, I would like my children [6 & 1] to be artistic, but I certainly wont force it upon them. When they show any sort of artistic ability, I do my best to encourage it and give them the supplies they need to nurture it.
Yes, we read to him every night before he goes to bed. What a shock that was the night he started reading ahead! I thought I had the first 2 year old who had taught himself how to read! Then I figured out that he had memorized the book!
I try to. He  is very into art, draws a lot of monsters and also likes to write scary stories. His teachers always comment on how bright he is and how much everyone always enjoys his fiction.
Would you say your children are especially bright?
Jordan has an above average learning capacity. When he turns 12 next year he will be tested for MENSA. He has done amazing things, like in 2nd grade he wrote an eight-page report on the Mexican War.
Chelsea has been a reader from a very early age, imaginative and artistic. She is 9 and reads on a 12th grade level and speaks two languages fluently. Her IQ score just came back at 182. Dillan is 7 reading on an 8th grade level, however he has already built his first computer and can write programs in Cold Fusion. His IQ is being tested.
Shes 4 months old and already able to stand up she is scary. She also is very good at drooling and laughing too.
Yes. Hes brilliant. He blew IQ tests out of the water when he was 4. But I dont want him to be a geek. Hes got a good handle on social skills. Id like him to stay that way.
Did/Do you interact with them a lot as small children?
Yes. I have always read to them, and never allowed them to watch too much television. They are both very spiritual individuals who read, comprehend and socialize on so many levels.
Mars is definitely bright and we do interact with him very much. I try to never tell him that something is wrong without giving him some kind of logical reason. I essentially treat him like an adult. I believe that later on he will have a better understanding of life than kids whose parents tell them things like, Because I said so !!!!
At every opportunity. While careful not to smother her in attention we are active in playing with her during the day (several hours at a time). She picks things up quickly and surprises people constantly with her ability to learn.
We interact with her all the time, asking her questions, involving her in everything that is going on around her We also speak to her in two languages. Kirsten speaks Danish to her and I try to speak only English to her.
What to you is the most important challenge about parenthood?
Having kids puts a strain on the romance of the relationship. Never forget your partner and never let the stress of it all eat away at each other. Always communicate and never get petty.
Money. It seems it is always something that he needs. Life with a child is extremely costly. Dont fool yourself into thinking its easy.
Providing my children with a well-rounded education in order to raise open-minded individuals is the most important challenge of parenthood.
Raising Kieran to be mindful of the universe and how he fits into it, and where he can choose to be different and forge ahead.
Providing our daughter with everything she needs to have a fruitful and successful life. We try to give her as many opportunities to expand her knowledge from an early age. At 14 months old shed already seen both sides of the world (USA and Australia)
What life lessons do you think you will teach your children?
To enjoy everyday. Enjoy yourself and not be afraid to speak your mind, voice your opinion and not be afraid to love and be loved.
I really want to teach my children that just because a lot of people may think or say something, it is not necessarily the best thing. I want to teach them that they must follow their heart and make the best decisions they know how.
There are soooo many that I couldnt possibly begin to list them. But near the top of my list is the fact that this is a big world full of endless possibilities and he can determine the path he takes and the world he creates for himself. I want him to know that he can be the master of his destiny
Respect other people, but respect herself first. Education is the most important thing she will ever have and that if she works hard her dreams and goals can be met.
What advice would you give Goths contemplating parenthood?
Do it for the right reasons. Dont be afraid of change or embarrassment because both will happen. Who cares if I have baby drool running down the front of my Sisters of Mercy t-shirt? Im a Goth Dad.
Wear a rubber! Seriously, make damn sure you are ready for this! It is an incredibly beautiful and emotionally fulfilling thing but its also the biggest pain in the ass you will EVER undertake! And it lasts a LOOOOOOOONGGGGGGG time! So make damn sure that you are ready to start living FOR someone else!
Make sure you have a solid relationship first. Having children isnt easy, and the decision to have one should be something you *know* you can do both emotionally and financially. Change your ways. Going out is fun, but leaving your child with a babysitter every weekend is going to come back to haunt you. Theres plenty of things to do as a family.
The same advice Id give non-Goths contemplating Parenthood. Its the hardest, most thankless, most rewarding, most wonderful roller coaster ride in the world. And it never ends. Your children are separate people who have separate emotions, dreams, and visions from you. They are not extensions of you. You will be shocked, amazed, disappointed, and proud of the person your child becomes. Sometimes all at once!
What has parenthood brought to YOUR life?
Parenthood has brought me an understanding of who I am, my limitations and my accomplishments. It has given me an incredible strength and confidence. I respect life more and find other people more interesting. I have become broader minded. One has to be if one is to engage in a conversation about diapers and formula.
Well I cant go out at the drop of a hat anymore, I cant sleep in, I have to plan almost everything ahead. I have to consider how everything I do is going to affect her, if she is up until 4am I still have to go to work in the morning. My money seems to slip through my fingers. But also, shes brought wonder and delight back into my life. Nothing can compare to the feeling I get when she lights up and giggles at me when I first walk in the door, or the way her skin feels. Or how she looks when she falls asleep in my arms.
Having a child has exposed me to a stage of human development that I never really got to observe. Its SOOOO fascinating watching my son figure things out. Every month hes a completely different being as he learns to do things, as his mind expands with knowledge both good and bad. But above all is the fact that he is an incredible amount of fun! He gives me an opportunity to be a child again. Its very liberating. And there is this biological thing that happens... the sound of your own child laughing, makes all of the evil in the world go away! Even if just for a few moments. It never ceases to amaze me.