Why Punk Rockers Make Great Parents

Categories: Dad Rock, Film
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This fall, an exciting documentary is hitting movie theaters. It's called The Other F Word, and it's about punk rock; it's about family; and it's about a plethora of life's awkward questions including: "Should I have tattooed my forehead?" and "Daddy, what's a dominatrix?" It features NOFX's Fat Mike, Jim Lindberg from Pennywise, TSOL's Jack Grisham, Rancid's Lars Frederiksen, Rise Against's Tim McIlrath and a host of others, and was produced by Morgan Spurlock (y'know, the Supersize Me guy). You can see the trailer for it here.

It's noted in the trailer that "There's nothing in the punk rock ethos that prepares you for being a dad." But, actually, we'd like to respectfully disagree. Because we think that a life spent submerged in punk rock is the best training any human could hope for when it comes to raising a child. As anyone who has ever lived in a punk house, or squatted, will tell you, you will never find a more practical human being on earth than a punk -- they're good at eating on a budget, they're good at making clothes last three times longer than they should, and, by God, they can fix anything and everything, often using only regular household objects and a bit of creativity (think of them as stinkier MacGyvers). Just imagine what these people are capable of once their band has been successful and they've got some money in their pockets!

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On his last spoken word tour through San Francisco earlier this year, Henry Rollins very wisely noted that punks make the best parents because they raise kids to think outside the box, to question everything they're told, to understand the impact of politics on their lives, and, above all, to be open-minded. The children of punks -- even if they go on to have no interest in the genre/ lifestyle whatsoever -- are unlikely to beat up another kid at school for being weird, and they are probably less likely to discriminate against others.

What's more, kids of punk rockers aren't going to get beaten up or bullied in school, either. Think about it: would you mess with a kid who had Lars Frederiksen for a dad? Oh, hell no! We saw him in the produce section of Safeway on Market Street once, and, trust us, when he's placed in an entirely bland, suburban setting, he looks kinda scary. (Yes, Lars, it is the forehead tattoo.) Imagine him in a PTA meeting!

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In addition, punk rock parents, without a doubt, have all witnessed some crazy shit. They didn't go from suburban homes to fancy colleges to office jobs and then back to suburbia. These people may end up in the suburbs sometimes, sure, but they've probably earned a bit of peace and quiet. Drugs, violence, death, lunacy, chaos ... it's all been-there-done-that for the seasoned punk rocker. So think of the wealth of advice they have to pass onto their offspring! So much more than responsible folk who've never done drugs, or gone to the bad part of town, or been in a fight, or woken up with a tattoo they don't remember getting. These are not parents who can sugarcoat the answers they give to their children's questions -- or avoid them -- because their experiences are literally written all over them.

If all parents were punks, the world might be a more tolerant, honest and wise place. Kids would probably rebel less (there'd be nothing to rebel against), and if fatherhood can prompt sobriety and sobbing from Flea (you think he's boring now, but watch Suburbia ... it's an improvement), think of the transformative powers reproduction can sometimes prompt in otherwise lost souls.

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At one time or another, we've interviewed most of the people featured in this documentary, and, for the record, there ain't a stupid one in the bunch (even when they try and pretend that's the case for the sake of public amusement). So we're excited to see this movie, and and we might just pick up some valuable parenting skills from it, too.

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Julie Generic
Julie Generic

 kinda douchey article. "they're good at eating on a budget, they're good at making clothes last three times longer than they should, and, by God, they can fix anything and everything, often using only regular household objects and a bit of creativity (think of them as stinkier MacGyvers). Just imagine what these people are capable of once their band has been successful and they've got some money in their pockets! " uh, they eat on a budget cause they are drunks...now they have kids and money...are they still drinking? didn't fat mike put piss in a bottle of tequila and pass it around to his fans recently? WTF!!!!!!! a paragon, indeed.

Lise D P Ridgway
Lise D P Ridgway

Most of the people in this are not punk, at least not anymore. SELL OUTS.

single mothers
single mothers

Very nice blog on parent hood.. I enjoyed being on your post.. I am glad I visited here and come to know about it.. I will share it with my friends..

The Grown up Juggalo
The Grown up Juggalo

RAE RAE RAE...BAISED MUCH!? though this article has some really great points, you just trashed a whole other set of people YOU think are criminals because YOU don't understand there concepts. Just because you are familar with one thing doesn't mean you insult what you can't comprehend. whats the matter with you!? 

Crispin McCabe
Crispin McCabe

You lost me when you tagged Art Alexakis, for some reason. As a punk I can probably deal with kids, 3 year olds kind of remind me of people I was in bands with or tour managed.... tired, cranky, pissing themselves, throwing tantrums, the usual.

Zella-lugosi
Zella-lugosi

anyone can be a great parent, no matter what their background is. it is determined by the  choice we, as individuals, make.  not by who raised us, not by how privileged or underprivileged we were growing up.  it is a simple choice followed by hard work to maintain it.   

Jbbarrettnc
Jbbarrettnc

ELVIS, LITTLE RICHARD, JAMES BROWN, THE KINKS, ETCC . ARE THE PUNK OF THE EARLIER DAYS... I RAN TO THE THE LADIES WEAR STORES WHEN I SAW THE RAMONES, SEX PISTOLS, GENERATION X... THOSE WERE THE ONLY STORE THAT HAD APPERREL THAT HELPED ME EXPRESS MY DISCONTENT FOR SOCIAL EXCEPTANCE.. THANK LANE BRYANT FOR THE SILLY PATTERNED TEES .GLBT BRISTOL PA 19007 JBBARRETTNC

RebelMom
RebelMom

This is simply kick-ass! A great doc to see after writing/reading the 8-pounder book Rebel Moms, ha-ha! Some of my fav dudes in music represented here! And for your rocker moms out there, wondering where the f**k the women are? Don't worry I will help you represent—Rebel Moms is coming out in a few weeks. https://www.facebook.com/Rebel...

Smackjackie
Smackjackie

The Other F Word (F=Fatherhood)... 

Paintball Barrel
Paintball Barrel

dang i blame my parents for giving me a perfectly normal upbringing! scarred for life!

LevonTostig
LevonTostig

Admirable.  Too many people have babies and, "step out," of the challenge, leaving the results of their romp to welfare.  These folks are stepping up.  No - that's not quite right.  They're leaping up and punching the challenge in the face!  

I like that.

Maynard Twin
Maynard Twin

As a punk rocker, I learned what NOT to do so that my children will feel loved and cherished.  I tell them everyday that they mean the world to me.  I stand up for them and they have learned that weird is wonderful!

MrSatyre
MrSatyre

I question the remark that punks are more open minded. Punks, by their very lifestyle of defying and questioning mainstream dogma, are more ready to put blinders on and earplugs in so they won't have to deal with anything they don't agree with. I've known quite a few punks and ex-punks through the 70's and 80's, and it's always the ex-punks (the so-called grownups with families and traditional community responsibilities) that are far more willing and able to mull things over carefully and calmly and weigh their decisions in a more scientific manor.

TPaign
TPaign

What is being punk not?Blind faith. Making the easiest choices. Going along to get along. Succombing to groupthink. Fear of confrontation. Valuing order over reality and justice.

From the Butthole Surfers song Sweet Loaf - "Daddy, what does regret mean?Well son, the funny thing about regret is,It's better to regret something you have done,Than to regret something you haven't done.Great advice from a father to a son!

.
.

From the Butthole Surfers song Sweet Loaf - "Daddy, what does regret mean?Well son, the funny thing about regret is,It's better to regret something you have done,Than to regret something you haven't done.Great advice from a father to a son!  That is bad advice.. There is a time to restrain and there is a time to let loose.I don't think any punk (including the Butthole Surfers) would agree that the guy who recently got butsted for video taping the raping of a baby now thinks it wouldn't be better to regret that which he hasn't done.If you want to read why punks make good parents. Read the" Forth Turning".As for all the self-righteous comments about tolerance from some of the commenters. Sounds like insecurity. If a punk is too sensitive to deal with the looks and comments, and not alternative enough realize that tolerance is the PC Nazis pressuring us to avoid critically analyzing our blindspots of truth and/or justice, then it is time for us to move on.For example. I can tolerate anyone but that hypocritical right wing prolife asshole.Double standards don't work when you seek truth. Tpaign, You are spot on with your comment regarding what punk is not..

TPaign 14 hours ago What is being punk not?Blind faith. Making the easiest choices. Going along to get along. Succombing to groupthink. Fear of confrontation. Valuing order over reality and justice.

TPaign
TPaign

Thanks for the suggestion to read the Fourth Turning. I just finished it, and it was excellent. BTW, My comment wasn't related to committing heinous crimes, but to kissing the girl you have a crush on, taking initiative, starting a business, etc.

Victimofcheese
Victimofcheese

"They didn't go from suburban homes to fancy colleges to office jobs and then back to suburbia."

 hahaha riiiiight. Most 'punks' have always been middle or upper middle class kids rebelling against mom & dad. A detour to crash pads and the bar scene in their early 20's doesn't mean they have an actual blue collar background.

Dora
Dora

I would love to see this documentary when it comes out.  I would not consider myself a "Punk" mom, but I do have the same believes.  I teach my children to accept people for who they are not for what they look like, to think out of the box and to give everything a chance before you say you don't like.  My oldest has bleach blonde hair and piercings and my youngest in the opposite, but they are both being taught the same thing.  I can't wait to see it.

Hellkatt1313
Hellkatt1313

Thanks so much for writing this I have a girl in collage and a 2nd grader and both are A students, music, dance. They excel in all that they do. I have been open about my drug use and my oldest can honestly say she has been going to shows since she was 4 years old. Both are open minded and awesome. I live in a small army town and you should see the reaction people had to me when I first moved here 10 years ago but now they come to me for parenting advise.. the same people that would not let their kids come to our house because we must be devil worshipers. I can not wait to see this movie.B.M.S.H Kit

Alexaengland
Alexaengland

I'm glad to hear that people agree that tats don't mean we are outlaws!

Rubydeltoro
Rubydeltoro

Great article! Thank you from this Reagan Era *shudder* single punk rock mama! 

Myrinda Ray Siciliani Dixon
Myrinda Ray Siciliani Dixon

my 8yo daughter was born a punk, continues to be one and probably will always be one. Black has been her first favorite color since she was 2, she talks about death and that we should go back to worshipping the Greek gods because they were "way cooler" and refuses to do school work that bores her. She's not just "bright", she is literally test taken "gifted" and I only hope I have the strength to be a better parent than mine were. I hope I have the strength to let her persue a life of creativity and expression. We are struggling with school saying she has to fit in their damn box, saying that sometimes you just have to do that in life. I have my own business and work from home. How am I supposed to tell me kid to be like everyone else, when I am so NOT? I have tattoos and some pink hair and I'm the Girl Scout leader, so ha ha ha! lol!

Melanie Jean
Melanie Jean

For the most part, I agree, but when I lived in a house with punks they were pretty nasty living companions as far as MINIMAL cleanliness goes.

SwitchbladesMama!
SwitchbladesMama!

This was awesome and I had to share it! Even in Portland, a city that is known for being progressive and "weird"...I have been stopped at the zoo with my 2 year old daughter and told I needed to look more like a mom?!?! I have tattoos and and a bullring in my nose. I have a job and work very hard to support my daughter! I saw the Vibrators while my daughter was still in my belly! She listens to the music I listen too but also loves princesses. She is a smart very creative and wonderful little hooligan. Her middle name is Switchblade and she is my heart! I chop up my all so colorful past to life experiance and the people I call friends would do anything to protect my daughter and I! She is raised by a tribe of tattooers, bikers, rockabillies and punks. She will kwno how to fix a car and how to not judge others because people others consider scary she calls uncle!

Jessyperry
Jessyperry

When does it come out? I would love a date. This is the most excited I've been in a long time :)

flickin67
flickin67

Come to Wa we'll make a night of it :)

Mandy Stroyer
Mandy Stroyer

So awesome to see this! I've been saying many of these things for years & it's really nice to see it recognized on a larger scale. I definitely grew up in the punk scene & I'm still fairly active in it (as active as a single mom can be while working & going to school). I'm happy to say that my two teenage boys are also active in the scene, playing in their own bands & going to shows... even dragging my own bones back into several pits long after swearing them off! They're damn good kids. Very open minded, friendly, talented, innovative & intelligent. I'm so proud of who they are & I know that a lot of that comes from growing up in this scene.

treeman
treeman

Love this! Having grown up in the hardcore scene, I can personally attest that many punk-rock boys grew up to be great dads. But it might be nice to see some punk rock moms included in the film, also.

Alison
Alison

I so can't wait to watch this!

Leopardchucks
Leopardchucks

This seems like an interesting take on the usual parenting B.S. I see out there. I've had concerned old ladies approach me (when my son was a baby) and verbally disapprove of my appearance (facial tattoos and funny hair). The same people that scream "pro life!" are the same jerks that think I shouldn't be a mom. I have high hopes for this film, but like all self-proclaimed "punk" movies, it will probably leave a bit to be desired and come off as pedantic. But the tiny narcissist in me will love it, I'm sure.

Jec2017
Jec2017

is this larry or one of you guys 

Sophiakreskin
Sophiakreskin

Could be called white middle-aged white guys with toddlers!

Trish-jim
Trish-jim

The original drummer for Lagwaggon was my son. I was so proud of him for taking his own path into Punk.  It filled him. He was good at sports, except he was not comfortable with the idea of someone always had to be the loser. There are no losers in Punk Rock.

Public138
Public138

been hardcore since '84 and I of all people got two wonderful daughters.... how do I explain that my band was the Juvenile Sex Offenders? I don't. We just smile and say that is just so daddy and go play.

Piensa Demasiado
Piensa Demasiado

This applies to any alternative lifestyle, not just punks.  My son had someone judge him because of us and when he was upset, I just told him that people that are ignorant (without knowledge about a subject) are usually scared and lash out because they are scared by something they don't know about.  This applies to people that are unfamiliar with people with disabilities, different races, religions, medicinal progress/breakthroughs (the world is flat), etc.  I stand by the statement "knowledge is power"

Donal
Donal

GOOD point - if you saw me you might think "hippie" or "biker" - hair to my waist has that effect [and I WAS a hippie sort in the 60s and 70s], but I was also in the music business [backstage] and my son, born in 1985, is now in a master's degree program to bcome a school teacher [musc teacher!] and my Mom can't believe how well my parenting style worked out..many of the same kinds of things cited here [tolerance, open-mindedness and awareness of the real world etc] as you say, can apply to other "alternative" lifestyles.Funny that so-called conservatives often cite "personal responsibility" in all matters and I guess that's how I did it - I committed myself to focusing on being a father to my son and all of the small sacrfices I made [such as NOT spending all of my free time hanging out with my friends but always making time for him first] were well worth it.Hey punks - I love you and totally relate - one of the bands I worked for actually wrote a song called "Hip Hippy Punks" in 1978 about all of the hippies becoming punk rockers and how much they were alike...the differences are important too - a lifestyle based on getting high isn't exactly produictive ya know....stay strong and SUPPORT OCCUPY WALL STREET!

mamatat
mamatat

My kids have informed me that their rebellion would consist of becoming Tea Baggers...if they wanted to have one. I think I heard "...which we don't, Mom!" at the end of the pondering from them.I'll add that being PAF in the stix is no easy task: those redneck kids are just mean little shits, and their daddies run the school boards. That's the variety I'd like to see. We'll see what ol' Morgan's got instore, and reserve judgment for later.

Doreet
Doreet

my daughter - 6th grader age 11- has told me her rebellion would be letting her hair go back to its normal colour and wearing matching scoks.

XAngelox
XAngelox

I don't like that the author assumes that every punk has done a ton of drugs. Especially when Tim from Rise Against is straight edge and appears in the movie. As a straight edge "punk rock step-parent" I'm going to try to raise the kid to avoid drugs and alcohol just like I did. So I guess he will have something to rebel against if he chooses to. Haha This author seems to have a shallow view of what punk rock really is.

Chy187
Chy187

Did it say every punk has done a ton of drugs? I thought it implied exposure to and knowledge of, not a history of excessive usage...

Rae Alexandra
Rae Alexandra

Just to clarify: I do not assume that every punk has ton a ton of drugs. I identify as punk and I have never done drugs and have no desire to, but I have also been exposed to a great deal of drug use within the scene (as I'm sure Tim from Rise Against and other straight edge people have). Punk rock often attracts extreme people - and a lot of extreme people like to experiment with drugs. I do not have a shallow view of what punk rock really is - this is a column, not a book. There's only so much I can cover. Thanks for your input though. And I fully support your decision to be edge! :-)

Brad
Brad

Straight edge punks were in the minority. Ian Mackay from Minor Threat was right there, but the scene I was into in the 80's, was heavy into alcohol and drugs. Not to mention piss poor eating habits. It was a huge part of the scene. Sid Vicious and Darby Crash, are just two names, that started the sad chain of od.

Heyroindi
Heyroindi

Guess what, Rae, even punks withOUT money in their pockets can be great parents! Really, it's true! I really want to see this documentary, but I found this article to be a bit condescending.

BouncinSoulss
BouncinSoulss

Nah it was just saying how since they are so good without money imagine em with money, they'd be set for life

Gigihonkytonk
Gigihonkytonk

I'm proud to say with drugs, sex, dropping out of highschool ,fights,and squatting in my past . my children are turning out to be rather successful . way fucking proud of how I brought them up and I have no regrets .

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