Aim true

Ever since we talked about the "talking about race" chapter of NurtureShock, I've been thinking about how it's not just about taking about race. It's about communicating values. I've been thinking that just living my values are going to pass them on to my boys, but that chapter really made me see that I need to explicitly talk about them–race, body size and health, relationships, sex, etc.

Last weekend, I got a beautiful chance to talk about what I value with my younger son. He and I took a vacation together, just the two of us, to drive 350 miles to the wedding of my high school friend who was going to marry his partner of 14  years in Massachusetts, one of the few US states that will allow them to get legally married because they both happen to have penises.

I wanted my son to be able to chose what he wore to the wedding, which was going to be casual, with a beach reception, so on the drive up the day before we stopped at a Target and went into the boys' section. He told me that "those things" (collars) tickled his neck, so he didn't want to wear a polo shirt or a Hawaiian shirt. We picked out a plain navy t-shirt, and a pair of madras plaid shorts. They didn't have any sandals he wanted, so he stuck with the flip-flops he had on. He also got a new pair of Spiderman sunglasses. He was excited about picking out his own clothes, and about wearing an outfit he liked.

On the way there we talked about the wedding. "Is it really two mens, Mom?" he asked. "Yes." Why are they getting married?" "Because they love each other. And when two grown-ups love each other, they can get married. Sometimes a man marries a man, and sometimes a woman marries a woman, and sometimes a man and a woman marry each other."

In another conversation he asked if there would be a "statue" of two men on the top of the cake. I said I thought there probably would be. He thought about it, and said that when he got married he wanted to have a statue of two penguins on his wedding cake. I said I thought that was a good idea.

When we got to the wedding he noticed that the two grooms were wearing matching shirts and boutonnieres. He asked why they were hugging and kissing. "Because now they're married. They're both husbands now."

Some of the guests were same-sex couples, and we talked about that, too. "Are those mens married to each other, Mom?" "I don't know. Let's look and see if they're wearing rings. That's usually how you can tell if someone's married." "Yeah, like you and Dad don't wear rings because you're not married." "Exactly."

He didn't cry at the wedding, because he's 5. I did, though. I cried because my friend, who was in my wedding, had been with his new husband for long enough for me to meet and marry and divorce my kids' dad, but was only now making it legal. And I was crying hoping that by the time my sons are old enough to get married, they'll be able to marry any adult they want to in any of the 50 states.

This morning I read this news, that one of the head execs of Target donated $150,000 to the gubernatorial campaign of an anti-gay candidate. And it made me sick to think of all the money I've spent there over the years. All that money, thinking Target was giving back to the community, when their execs are violating the Greatest Commandment.

But I'm glad that the last money I'll ever spend at Target was on the clothes my son wore to the wedding of a couple that gubernatorial candidate thinks don't deserve to be married.

And now, to teach my values, I'm going to explain to my children why we don't shop at Target anymore.

38 thoughts on “Aim true”

  1. Love this – I agree, I think we need to discuss the things we value very openly instead of assuming kids will just absorb it from their environment.Also, thanks for the tip about Target. We spend money there nearly every week and it’s good motivation for me to stop doing that.

  2. Wow — just wow. I didn’t realize about the Target political donation/affiliation either – have spent quite a bit of $ there over the years. Love your son’s comments and questions about the wedding/couples he saw there.

  3. Great story. One of my very favorite days, ever, was the first day of gay marriage in California (the second time), when Mouse’s preschool class went down to SF city hall to hand out flowers to newlyweds. My little 4-year-old came home saying “it used to be that a boy had to marry a girl and a girl had to marry a boy, but now you can marry whoever you want”. I bawled. And dammit, I wish it was still true. LOT of talking around how that could happen.I’m trying really hard to keep talking, explicitly, about our beliefs while still allowing her space to form her own; being at a Civil Rights elementary school now helps a lot as we have to both discuss and model these values all the time. But yeah, sex and love and body size and religion, oh my!

  4. A truly lovely account of a truly lovely wedding. I wish the newly married couple a long and happy married life together.I’m not surprised that Target’s donation supporting the controversial candidate caused upset and outrage. It’s not the first right wing candidate with controversial views they’ve donated to over the years though.
    Target is a big chain of discount stores and like most large corporations they donate a large amount of money to political causes like other commenters have said.
    They donate to everyone, Democrat, Republican, Independent with a realistic chance. To cover the waterfront so they’ll be popular with whomever wins.
    So to me this seems an unintended consequence. Rather than a political stance of theirs.
    I don’t like big discount stores either side of the Pond myself and don’t see them as a boon for the community. Target included. But I don’t think they meant to cause a furore that makes them seem so hypocritical and makes many customers feel betrayed.

  5. “But I’m glad that the last money I’ll ever spend at Target was on the clothes my son wore to the wedding of a couple that gubernatorial candidate thinks don’t deserve to be married.”I love this so much. But damn, Target, really? That’s gonna hurt.

  6. Love the post. My sister is gay and one of the perks is that it makes for authentic conversations, although right now it’s just mostly about who has a penis and who has a ‘gina. :)And seriously?!? If I can’t shop at wal-mart and I can’t shop at target, where the hell am I supposed to shop?!?

  7. We can preach to our kids all we want, but our modeling is what makes them the open, accepting and loving people we hope they will be.Cheers to the newlyweds! Maybe someday they’ll be 2 unjudged dads.
    Thanks for sharing this inspiring story!

  8. I completely understand your point, but I can’t get myself worked up that Target, a company headquartered in Minnesota, donated money to the Republican candidate for governor of Minnesota. I don’t like the Republican’s stance at all, but it makes sense to me that Target would donate money to both the Democratic and Republican candidates for governor (although right now there are still 3 Democratic candidates).

  9. “although right now it’s just mostly about who has a penis and who has a ‘gina. :)” Here, too, with a lot of disappointment that he can’t have a baby grow in his belly one day.Awesome post Moxie.

  10. Great post about communicating values, BUT…I agree with what @R said. Unless it was specifically stated “I am donating to candidate x because he stands for y…”And just in my own experience, it is far easier to zero in on one issue when you don’t live in the state/country in question. When I lived in NY/the US I definitely took in candidates as a whole platform; now if I voted in a US election my perspective would be skewed by where I live, pretty much turning me into a single-issue voter.

  11. Great post. I hope you don’t mind, but I’ve shared this on my FB profile, along with the video of the woman returning over $225.00 worth of Target purchases and cutting up her credit card.

  12. Great post Moxie! (And great meeting you last night). I agree with what some of the commenters are saying about Target donating to all parties and I can also imagine that they have donated to controversial candidates in the past…there are so many controversial representatives in politics. That being said, my biggest issue is not that they donated to a political party whose views I don’t share, I actually think it quite “fair” that if they are going to give to one party they would give to another, since Target tries to uphold the image of “community friendly”. What I don’t like and can’t stomach is that they did so irresponsibly, meaning to someone who I know, they know, is spreading the message of hate and encouraging violence against immigrants and homosexuals. Now, the problem is that I KNOW and KNOWING makes it difficult for me to go into Target or any store (including Wal-Mart for example) where I KNOW something terribly ugly and wrong is being done. Ignorance is bliss. It allows me to shop anywhere and drop hundreds of dollars not knowing that my money is contributing to the misery of people of color, like me, immigrants, like my family, and homosexuals, like many of my best friends and family members. But knowledge, though inconvenient, gives me the power to not contribute to those things when I can avoid it and take a stance in support of my beliefs and the people I love. Because in the end, I love them more then anything I could ever buy at Target.

  13. I love your blog, Moxie. I think you have fantastic advice, and my impression is that you’re doing a wonderful job raising your kids.I hope I don’t completely get attacked for this, but I have to take issue with your assertion that you were “thinking Target was giving back to the community, when their execs were violating the Greatest Commandment.”
    First, as a technical matter, the first and greatest commandment is to “love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.” Matthew 22:37. I assume you are talking about the second commandment Christ gives in this passage, which is “like” the first: To love one’s neighbor as oneself.
    I am opposed to gay unions, but I certainly don’t view this as a violation of Christ’s command to love my neighbor as myself. I truly want what is best for my neighbor, but I have a different view from yours about whether the gay lifestyle in general and gay unions in particular are actually good for those involved. You would say yes, obviously. I, however, would say no, because I believe such actions and such unions ultimately harm those involved in the same way that any sinful behavior is harmful to the soul. Because I want what is ultimately best for my neighbor–being in God’s presence eternally in heaven–I have to oppose behaviors that scripture and holy tradition teach would stand in the way of that good.
    We’re both loving our neighbor; we just have different views on what that means.
    I know that most of the folks who read your blog will likely disagree with me, and I’m not out to convince anyone that I’m right– this is not an appropriate forum for a detailed argument on that topic. I just took offense at the notion that my views were somehow violating Christ’s command to love my neighbor as myself.
    (As an aside: I don’t know anything about the candidate to whom the Target executive gave money or about his views. I imagine the candidate is simply opposed to gay unions. However, there are a lot of other people out there who are truly hateful toward the gay community, and– even more sadly– there are those who advocate violence against gays and lesbians. I emphatically CONDEMN any calls for hatred or violence toward the gay community.)
    (One more aside: I agree with the previous commenters who noted that large corporations generally contribute to candidates on both sides of the aisle. If I tried to avoid shopping at any store whose executives gave money to someone with whom I disagreed, I’d have almost nowhere to shop!)

  14. Petroni, I was talking about John 15:12: “This is my commandment: That you love one another as I have loved you.”I’m not going to get into whether same-sex relationships are sinful. My view *based on Biblical texts* is that God does NOT condemn same-sex consensual adult relationships any more than he condemns opposite-sex consensual adult relationships.
    Please do some research on the candidate. He’s not merely against same-sex marriage. He’s been linked with groups calling for violence against gay people.
    Carol makes the point I apparently didn’t make in my post: Now that I KNOW, how can I shop there anymore? And Target has been so non-responsive to all questions about it’s customers about this issue. That, to me, shows that they do not care about their customers concerns. If that is the case, then I am not going to waste my money with them.

  15. Congratulations to the newlyweds.I have to agree with @-R- and @Kate and @Wilhelmina, et. al. The reality is not nearly as simple as “don’t shop there.” Come on now, there are far more deserving targets (pun intended) of your legitimate ire, @Moxie, such as someone with real authority to create change… Like our dear President Obama, who has gone on the record multiple times during the campaign as being opposed to gay marriage! On that issue, both McCain-Palin and Obama-Biden were in 100% agreement, which is totally effed up if you think about it. I suspect in the President’s heart he knows better, but he also knew what he needed to do to get elected, and the sad fact is, no one today will get elected president by telling America they are pro-LGBT civil rights. Which just blows my mind and totally disappoints me. Years from now, I’m convinced our current homophobic laws are going to seem as blatantly wrong as Jim Crow laws, anti-miscegenation laws, anti-women’s suffrage laws, and both past and current laws curbing the rights of women to control their own reproduction. But for now, the voting majority really, truly wants it this way.

  16. Target has always struck me as a fascinating case study on “shades of gray.” They give gazillions back to the community (I live in Minneapolis, so I see it close-up). They utilize work factories overseas that violate basic human rights. The Daytons (the owner’s) are prominent liberals on the local political scene. Most of their products are made in China, instead of Union made. In my 20s I worked as a guard at the big museum here in the city. Bruce Dayton, the patriarch of the family, was a major donor and trustee. Unlike most trustees (who were on the board for networking and/or political purposes) Bruce would often be seen actually in the galleries, usually with a gaggle of kids, little Daytons. The security guards loved him because he treated us all with respect. As an art collector, he and wife have amassed a major collection of Chinese art—including pieces that, I’m sad to say, have undoubtedly some shady provenance. Their spokespeople are maintaining that they stand by their policy of inclusiveness, and contributed to Emmer (Republican candidate for gov.) because of his pro-business views. I don’t know. I do know that we, my husband and I, decided about 2 years ago to stop shopping at Target because we were so torn over what was right and what was wrong, and we got tired of thinking about it and just decided to stop shopping there. I’ve been in a Target maybe 3 times since then. This may sound… theatrically world-weary, but if you think ANY major business you shop at is 100% ethically clean, you haven’t dug deep enough. Sadly, you really don’t need to dig, with Target, or with any other large business.

  17. @Rudyinparis, your comments on the “shades of gray” are really interesting and I would love to hear even more if you have links or further thoughts. Too true, I think, about major businesses and ethics.

  18. Amazing conversations you had with your son Moxie. The wedding totally would have brought tears to my eyes too. The magnitude and hope of it all gives you goosebumps.@Charisse,
    ‘Mouse’s preschool class went down to SF city hall to hand out flowers to newlyweds. My little 4-year-old came home saying “it used to be that a boy had to marry a girl and a girl had to marry a boy, but now you can marry whoever you want”.’
    OMG! Just reading that brings tears to my eyes – both the act of having the preschoolers hand out the flowers and your DD’s comment. That is the best thing I’ve read all week.

  19. Congrats to the newlyweds! And what a great opportunity to talk with your boy, @Moxie!I’m still constantly thinking about the chapter on race, too. In fact, a couple weekends ago I was sitting down with my daughter coloring, and we started talking about skin color. I no longer worried about whether or not to name it or point it out. I charged ahead and talked about the different shades, and that we had shades of white skin and the people we were friends with who had shades of brown skin.
    It felt really good to make this part of a normal conversation, to make it just like we discuss hair color or eye color. This was our second or third conversation that touched on this topic, and it’s feeling less and less taboo.
    I’m now actually looking forward to conversations about same-sex couples (although not looking forward to how some extended family members may take the outcome of those talks). However, my 3 yo simply doesn’t even seem to notice or question relationships or marriage or anything except who is brother versus sister. So we’ve got time on that one.

  20. Hi L,On Target’s labor record in Saipan:
    And then, conversely, Target standing up for women’s reproductive rights by firing a pharmacy worker who would not dispense the “morning after” pill called Plan B: (This is an anti-choice site)
    “Williams said that Target forced pharmacists state-wide to sign a “conscience clause” last fall agreeing to dispense the abortifacient or refer to another pharmacy that does. She wrote the chain a letter December 1 telling them she could not sign the clause. “We had to make sure it was in stock, and even give directions to the store,” she said. “I would be a participant.””
    As for collecting stolen art, (LOL) I certainly don’t have any proof of that, but I do have a longstanding interest in the issue of international art collecting (antiquities) which makes me aware that is it actually very VERY difficult to acquire large amounts of pieces without having at least some of them be tainted by having been looted. Certainly this would apply to Chinese pieces. My direct observations of Bruce Dayton, also, are strictly personal–but I always thought it was so awesome to see him in the museum, engaging with the art, bringing kids in. SO cool and unusual for a trustee at his level.
    Mark Dayton, his son,, is in my estimation, an admirable man (DFLer) who has served in the Senate, made public his struggles with alcoholism and depression and is… wait for it… currently running for governor.

  21. I think people are mis understanding some of the beliefs…It’s not so much about that this guy disagrees with my or anyone else’s view (he’s against gay marriage, I’m not). It’s that the man who got the money is involved and has supported both openly and financially organizations who have been very connected to violence acts and/or threats to the gay community. So, for example, the President opposes gay marriage, but he isn’t supporting financially or otherwise organizations or groups who encourage violence and hate towards those groups. THAT is the problem. I would LOVE to see it pointed out where Target has given gay organizations normally threatened and attacked by the people this other guy speaks for and supports the same amount of cash and financial support. If Target has donated this much to such organizations, then at least I know that they are trying to even the “battle” field. That would be fair to me. I also think that despite how corporations have donated and given money in the past, it might be time where their donations are given more responsibly. Support both sides, fine, but do the research and don’t lend a hand to violence. THAT in the end is the problem. At least for me.

  22. “Because I want what is ultimately best for my neighbor–being in God’s presence eternally in heaven–I have to oppose behaviors that scripture and holy tradition teach would stand in the way of that good.”I’m pretty sure that was the exact reason the court in Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani’s case gave.

  23. Boy, I will have to do some digging on the Target situation…so glad I read through all the comments to at least see how complicated it might be. I gave up on Salvation Army because of their directly harmful HR policies. Giving up on Target — well, if I do decide it’s the right thing to do it is gonna hurt! They’ve nailed their niche so well, I don’t unite know whom to replace them with.On the bigger point about engaging young people on these topics, I agree that it’s direct experience and conversation that will carry the day, and that means having a circle of family and friends that cut a wide swath and are truly present in your lives. The conversations happen by themselves at that point.

  24. Well, if you’re in the Midwest, you could look to Meijer as a replacement for Target and Wal*Mart. I don’t know anything about their political affiliation, but you could check it out.I think any time you are looking at discount goods, you will be looking at overseas factory-made products which might have some labor abuses, as compared to US/European factories.
    I’d also like to say that I find a HUGE, GIANT difference between Target the corporation giving money to charities and a private citizen who works for Target giving his money to the candidate of his choice. You certainly have every right to tell Target to get a new CEO because you don’t like him, but I see ‘shades of grey’ as well. I’ve worked at companies that offer payroll deduction to support their PAC (and the United Way), but I’ve never worked anywhere that told us what candidates to support, etc.

  25. People who swear they are totes against “violence against gays” but are a-ok with the economic and emotional violence done by, say, DOMA, bore me to tears. Try again, boring lady.

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