Today's post comes from two wonderful readers who are both dealing with family members who don't understand Goth. I'm hoping that this post will answer both of their questions and make sure that they can get more advice in the comments if needed.
The first is from Azotsuru:
I'm 13, and I've recently been very interested in the Gothic subculture. I have a lot of questions on how to go about this without freaking out my parents(mostly my mom). But firstly, I'm African(and Christian), and my mom is kind of restricting.She doesn't wear make up, so i can't were it(even when I'm a lot older) and other things like that. I'm also worried that they may think I've turned into some Satan worshiper or something, I don't think they even know that goth is a thing. They may not understand,so I don't think I can tell them. What do I do? -Anonymous
In my opinion, one of the best ways to be a Goth without making your parents freak out is not to play it up as a big deal. If you announce to your parents "I'm a Goth," they might immediately start to bring up those stereotypes that you mentioned. So, don't even bring up the word Goth. You can probably integrate wearing more black into your wardrobe, or listening to Goth music, or watching Gothy movies without causing a fuss. Some elements of Gothy style aren't even that outlandish, maybe a necklace shaped like an antique key or a black tiered skirt would work here.
I know it is frustrating to have limits on how you dress, but remember that being unable to wear gothy makeup or super elaborate outfits doesn't make you less of a Goth. Many of us tone down our outfits for work or school or to be around family, you aren't alone in that. Just appreciating the subculture and enjoying the things other than clothing is perfectly fine. Who knows, maybe her mind will change as you get older, or when you leave home.
I hope this helps!
The second letter is from ABG:
My problems lie not with my parents. They in fact lie with my Grandmother on my Mothers' side. I have always been a Christian. My Grandmother apparently thinks that, because I'm a gothy type, that I am not Christian. (Stereotype much?) She constantly questions me on my religion every time she sees an opening. I continue to explain that 'Yes I'm still Christian' and 'No I'm not in an occult' and that 'Calm down. I'm an asthmatic remember? I don't smoke'. A typical opening would be 'So I saw this really adorable (fill in something totally innocent- such as a book -that is related to ghosts/various other things) and I like it.' 'Well Adilie, you know that ghosts aren't real right?' and she proceedes to talk to me about how 'God loves you so much.' Anywho- my question is: How do I explain goth to her? I've showed her videos by Jillian Venters (The Lady of Manners over at Gothic Charm School) that explain it, but she gets distracted by the fact the 'room looks weird' and basically brushes off everything that Jillian says.I remain, Mary Rose, your humble servant.ABG
In my opinion, dealing with grandparents and parents is much the same issue and, as above, it might be best not to add the name Goth (and all the stereotypes) to the mix.
If you are yourself a Christian, it might be best to appeal to your grandmother using that. Something to the effect of "I am a Christian and do not think that being interested in Goth is a barrier between me and God. It's an interest that I have and I wish you would be supportive." If you go out of your way to demonstrate your faith to your grandmother (volunteer to go to church with her, ask her what her thoughts are on a particular bible story, etc.) she will be less likely to think that your other interests are at-odds with your Christianity.
You might also try to find some common ground with her about other things. Maybe she likes history, or other literature? Has she ever approved of something Gothy you've worn or liked (as small as a piece of jewelry, a particular outfit, something creative you've done)? Maybe bring that up.
I don't know how your parents feel, but if your mother is supportive maybe you could ask her to talk to her mother. You could ask your mother "Hey mom, my grandmother is being very critical of my hobbies and I feel that it's really disruptive to our relationship. Could you tell her that I value our relationship and that I hope she knows I don't want my hobbies to get between us?"
I hope that helps!
Readers, how do you deal with family members who just don't "get it"?