Me & Lefty Parent
So why “lefty parent”? It reflects that creative tension between the politically liberal, left-leaning family and community I grew up in and my own left-handed tendency to not quite fit in the box of a right-handed world. My parents made a decision to raise me outside the conventional parenting “best practices” of the 1950s. For me, the job of being a parent got easier when I took a deep breath, went back to lessons I learned from my parents and my own youth, and chose to go with my gut.
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My Story in Brief
I have worn many hats in my life – including child, youth, friend, student, young adult, cook, rebel, activist, organizer, feminist, thespian, iconoclast, gamer, traveler, lost soul, facilitator, leader, follower, lover, partner, spouse, analyst, parent, teacher and mentor – all contributing to the content and perspective of my writing.
I was born in 1955 in the University of Michigan Medical Center to parents who were (on the one hand) very much part of the liberal, secular, humanistic university culture, while at the same time rebels and iconoclasts, charting a course at times at odds with the prevailing culture. I had the loving and enriched first five years that child development experts say is crucial to optimal human development. That solid beginning helped me navigate more difficult times to come, including my parents divorce when I was ten years old, my mom’s subsequent thoughts of suicide, my own struggles with self-esteem, and leaving my home town and family in 1978 at age 23 to move to Los Angeles and struggle to find myself, find community, and put together a life in that huge megalopolis.
I received a BA in Communications in 1978 from the University of Michigan, and in 1986 earned a BS in Computer Science from California State University at Los Angeles, where I graduated number one in my class.
In 1983, after much discussion about whether our partnership would be helped or hindered by the institution of marriage, I married Sally, a fellow feminist activist I met during our involvement in the National Organization for Women. After further discussion and negotiation, we decided to have kids, first Eric (born in 1986) and then Emma (1989), both now young adults. The joys and trials of raising these two people have been transformative experiences for both Sally and me.
My activist and community organizing experience includes being a Board member and paid organizer for the Los Angeles Chapter of the National Organization for Women throughout the 1980s, one of very few male people to play both those roles. In the early 1990s I served a two-year tenure as Board President of a Unitarian-Universalist congregation; after that (and still today) serving as the Chair of their Religious Education Committee and a volunteer religious educator and youth advisor. More recently, because of the experience raising our own kids, I have gotten involved in advocacy for education alternatives as a member of AERO and as part of a group of fellow education activists trying to start an advocacy organization.
I have worked for the last 23 years as a business systems analyst mostly for companies in the health care industry. I have worked both as an employee (part of the family as it were) and as a consultant (more of a hired gun) and have come to prefer the context of the later, with me as the service provider and my supervisors and other colleagues as my customers. I have worked in both the formal corporate world and for small informal organizations, at times in a regular office and at other times from my home or even my boss’s garage.
My values combine a secular humanist world view with a belief in reincarnation and the permanence of ever evolving human consciousness. As an adolescent I embraced the feminism of my mother and my “feminist aunts” and continue today to be a strong advocate for partnership, rather than patriarchy, between women and men. I have voted Democratic all my life and still consider myself generally on the left of the political spectrum, but have more recently embraced some ideas with a more libertarian slant, particularly in the areas of parenting and education. I could label myself as a “left-libertarian”, since I don’t share the classic libertarian views on the absolute rights of property ownership (I feel we can only be stewards and not owners of any piece of this planet).
Though I may appear conventional with my large upper-middle class home, wife and two kids, unremarkable appearance, and main family breadwinner role, I see myself as an adventurer traversing this incarnation with many lives behind me and many ahead in the continuing shared evolution of mine and others’ consciousnesses.