Occupy Conundrum: The conundrum of an educated teenager

For the six weeks or so, I’ve been trying to discuss the Occupy Movement with my 17-year-old daughter (well, 17 in two days). She can be mature, sophisticated and quite the little critical thinker, but whenever I bring up this topic, she goes into la-la-la-I-don’t-want-to-hear-it mode. I tried to bring it up again yesterday and asked if her dad has said anything to her about it. She mentioned a friend of his in Oakland had commented that Occupy Oakland has gone awry and that they don’t know how to camp (my ex and his group are SCA’ers—camping in costume is their hobby). So, I told her that we would make OM the topic of discussion over dinner.

I explained to her about what I’ve been reading and hearing and helped eradicate some misconceptions. She educated me on how she’s seen all of this before in her history class, including how horribly wrong the Haymarket Riot went, with the Knights of Labor being blamed. She also informed me that that this country has had, on occasion, a viable third political party. Given all this, she declared that she’s seen it all before (in history), so she doesn’t need to pay attention to what is happening now. I told her that she was wrong—regardless of the outcome it will impact her future.

So, what’s a mother to do with a 17-year-old who knows the history of similar movements, and in her mind, sees the writing in the wall? I don’t know. I suspect that she’s a bit jaded, or at the very least skeptical, of the movement’s viability. Plus, like most young adults, she can be a bit self-absorbed. Do I force her to visit encampments with me? Do her own research so she can come to her own conclusions? Can I “make” her care? Last night, my daughter was in the room when I watched Marianne Williamson’s OWS talk in Berkeley—and she did comment throughout the hour. Well, I guess that’s a start.

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