Let me preface this post by stating there will many who may find my view points insulting or offensive. But, stay with me. Let me first explain a bit of personal background. I’m a proud liberal. I’m also a devoted Mom of 4 busy school-aged intelligent, creative awesome kids and happily married to the most amazing husband in the world. I adore cooking big home-cooked meals for my family. Their friends love to come over to our welcoming home to indulge in a warm meal shared at the family dinner table. On the surface, a stranger may pick me out by my conservative dress as a church-going housewife that reflects a 1950’s fantasy. Appearances can be deceiving.
My mother was the oldest child of an Irish Catholic tall red-headed mother and an Air Force officer and pilot father. It was a lifestyle that kept them traveling, mostly across Europe and the States. Eventually they settled back in their hometown in northeastern Kansas. She graduated from high school in 1965. As many young people did at that time, my mother evolved her style from the hair-sprayed beehive pageboy hairdo and clean preppy sweaters to a much more free-spirit approach into adulthood otherwise known as a “hippie.” Mom married my father in their first year of college and divorced seven years later. She found herself struggling as a single parent with no financial support from my father or otherwise. With the birth of her 2 daughters (myself and my younger sister), she was unable to finish her college degree fully and barely got by juggling multiple minimum-wage jobs. We moved to Taos, NM when she decided to deal with poverty with a beautiful backdrop in a little rustic art community.
My mother and all of her friends fit the ‘hippie’ lifestyle back in the 70’s. Struggling financially, they focused on creative arts and rallied for human rights. Mom was a bartender and waitress but most of her friends were artists. I recall going to political protests that looked like a music festival in a big field of folks in bell bottom jeans holding ‘anti-nuke’ signs. That’s my hippie definition, as I understood it. Mom was more ambitious and hard-working than many that typify the hippie stereotype but she was just as poor despite that. As a kid and as I reached adulthood, I always rejected the hippie image. I never cared for that ‘bohemian look,’ HATED that damn patchouli odor and despite the assumed stereotype, I have ardently avoided marijuana or any illegal drug use my entire life. What I did appreciate from my upbringing as the daughter of my hippie Mom: strong work ethic (even if it only leads to poverty) and a passionate crusade for human rights via liberal politics.
In current times, hippies from the 60’s are now senior citizens. Members of the AARP. I’ve noticed that many former hippies remained true to their roots- some reflecting a similar bohemian style of dress and some express themselves through liberal politics, environmental causes and other human rights’ causes. Then others turned their backs to the hippie lifestyle altogether and adopted a conservative approach, in fashion, religion and politics.
Now, a new generation has emerged: the modern hippie. A few years back when I noticed that bohemian look gaining popularity in a modernized version, I laughed. Everything old is new again, as they say. It was an attempt, mostly worn by young people of high school/college ages and often of wealthy and middle-class backgrounds, to capture a look they felt reflected ‘their’ music identity. Young people who discovered music icons like Bob Dylan to Bob Marley wanted to adopt a style to reflect this. For some, they discovered a passion for environmental issues, including organic food concerns. Many of these new generation hippies have adopted an unoriginal look in superficial way, based on fashion, not on substance. They enthusiastically show off this style as though it reflects a young generation’s struggle they’ve never actually experienced.
But what perplexes me is a segment of this modern hippie that I call the ‘pampered’ hippie. I have met and seen many examples of this lifestyle in my own community. I live in a liberal college town which boasts a society focused on excellent public education, diversity and the arts. I love living here. One population segment, aka the pampered hippies, do not struggle financially. They are supported by well-to-do families- sometimes parents, spouses or ex-spouses. They spend their money and time on a care-free lifestyle of countless yoga sessions, travels to music festivals and exotic locales, and the very best organic food money can buy. The disturbing trait for me in many of these pampered hippies is an odd style of parenting.
It is a selfish approach I’ve witnessed first-hand. I’ve seen examples of parents that spend thousands of dollars a month on their own needs to keep up this new-age bohemian lifestyle while spending very little time or money on their children’s needs. Many of these folks buy into that false perception that all vaccinations are poison to children and refuse to protect their kids from these diseases that can potentially even paralyze and kill. Add to that to a fear of doctors and westernized medicine, a child is left very vulnerable. I know one woman who hires a babysitter to watch her daughter all day while she works as a masseuse (typical and understandable for most single moms to need childcare), then hires ANOTHER babysitter during the evenings all-week so she can go out with her friends or attend “goddess” meetings. These same folks often shield their children from real-life realities by home-schooling or seeking education from extremist private schools such as the Waldorf Schools. What I’ve seen first-hand in these children is a great deal of behavioral and disciplinary problems. Understandably, they seek attention and any child lacking structure and boundaries will express behavior problems.
Now, I realize that not every person who claims to adopt the hippie style or a hippie lifestyle adheres to the stereotypes I’ve outlined. Nor do those that I claim to be a ‘pampered hippie’ all fall into the definition of poor parents. And yes, some children that receive education as I described above turn out just fine. So I know I shall receive criticism from both the left and the right on this topic. These are only my opinions as expressed by me from the examples I’ve seen up close. But, I have great issue with those that do fall into this definition. As I do for any extremist group.
As for my views on motherhood, I will support my children’s interests, healthcare and otherwise, armed with knowledge and as protectively as a Momma Bear. As for feminism, you don’t need to call me a goddess. But I will continue to fight for women’s rights such as reproductive rights and equal pay for equal work. And frankly, as someone who actually struggled with poverty as a child and knows there so millions of Americans in true need, these pampered hippies project the wrong image and distract from the real message that many original hippies struggled to convey.