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Monday, July 27, 2015

What I Learned About Parenting from Star Trek - By Alison Bruce

From Voyager, "The Q and the Grey"
"I look at the universe in an entirely different way now. I mean, I can't go around causing temporal anomalies or subspace inversions without considering the impact it'll have on my son."  
(Voyager, The Q and the Grey)

The moment you become a parent, your life is changed forever.

Let's be honest, I didn't learn that from Star Trek. That's a lesson you only really learn from experience. You can hear it, read it, see it in other people, but you don't really get it until you're holding your own child.

Regardless, Star Trek did prepare me for many aspects of parenthood. For instance, sometimes "miracle" pregnancies do happen. For Deanna Troi, in Star Trek Next Generation, The Child, the miracle was an alien life form that decided to explore humanity by being born human. Deanna gets pregnant and comes to term two days later

My first born was a bit of a miracle too. My partner and I hadn't got to the stage of discussing children. I was using an IUD, which had stood me in good stead since I was a teen. Then I became one of the 2%. Of course the IUD had to come out, but it was risky business. There was a possibility that the fetus would be damaged or even abort. Over that hurdle, I then caught Chicken Pox. This raised the specter of birth defects. Murphy seemed to have it out for my baby but, in the words of the Bard, "All's well that ends well."
That's mine on the right.
Star Trek prepared me for the fact that babies have their own for when they are going to be born, and where. Yes, I could have learned that from any number of movies and TV episodes where babies are delivered in the back of taxi cabs or police cruisers (my personal favourite is from Men in Black).

Star Trek got to me first. In Friday's Child, not only does the mother give birth on the run, Dr. McCoy has to persuade her not to kill the baby and herself per tribal custom. 


Keiko: "No, I mean contractions... I'm going into labor!"
Worf: "You cannot! This is not a good time, Keiko!"

(Next Generation, Disaster)

 In Disaster, Keiko O'Brian gives birth in Ten Forward during a ship-wide emergency. Worf gets to act as midwife, but his only experience was on a holodeck as part of his Starfleet training.Voyager features three births and two of them occur while the ship is under attack.

When I went into labour with my second child I decided that walking to the hospital was a good idea. My first delivery was late so the doctor decided to induce labour. In the end I had a C-section. So, next time round, even though I had a c-section scheduled, I was determined to go into labour on my own.

I made my partner have sex over and over again. (A real hardship, right?) I went for a walk with my three-year-old in the morning and we stayed out until I felt labour pains in the afternoon. Every time we stopped, I fantasized a dramatic birthing scene. The slide looked good at the playground. The coffee shop would have plenty of hot water. On the way to the hospital, we took the route passing the fire hall and police station so I could have drama and men in uniform. In the end, order prevailed. I had an uneventful c-section. But it wasn't for lack of trying.

Jake Sisko: "Dad, I'm fourteen."
Commander Benjamin Sisko: "I'm glad we agree on something"

(Deep Space Nine, Move Along Home)

Nog and Jake, Season 1
Deep Space Nine was, hands down, the best Star Trek source for parenting advice. Unlike any of the commanders in the other shows, Benjamin Sisko had a child. Fourteen year old Jake Sisko made friends with Ferengi youth, Nog. Over the seven seasons of the series, we got to see Jake and Nog grow up and establish their lives. There were a lot of stories that grew out of the different values of their families and the fact that neither father saw the relationship as being good for their son.

Nog and Jake, Season 5


Living in a multicultural  neighbourhood, I've seen my kids navigate similar waters. I'm all for the friendships, but I know that feeling isn't universal. When my sister and I were teens, we'd be arguing that since Mary's mother let her, why couldn't we? More often than not, I find myself explaining why Ahmed's mother won't let them when I will.

Then there's age difference between my kids. My youngest always wants the same freedom my oldest has. Nog may be small, but he's older than Jake so, when Jake complained that Nog could and he couldn't, it wasn't just cultural differences. Just try and convince the younger one that age does make a difference.

Maybe the biggest lesson demonstrated by Nog and Jake is that kids are who they are. Nog is a Ferengi. Ferengi males, by tradition, learn commerce from their male relatives, then go off and accumulate wealth for themselves. Nog is a canny trader, but his ambitions take him in another direction.

Jake is the son of a station commander. He is practically guaranteed a spot at Starfleet Academy - if for no other reason than the opportunities he's had to learn the necessary skills. But Jake doesn't want to go to the Academy. Nog does.

Will my kids surprise me? Why should they stop now? Will they run counter to my expectations? Since I only expect them to be decent human beings, I don't think so.


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