Family First in the Fight
Katy Faust and Stacy Manning provide a blueprint for breaking the revolutionary cycle.
Raising Conservative Kids in a Woke City, by Katy Faust and Stacy Manning, Post Hill Press, 224 pages
In her latest book, co-written with Stacy Manning, Katy Faust makes the argument that Raising Conservative Kids in a Woke City is not only possible, but necessary. Faust’s subtitle, Teaching Historical, Economic, and Biological Truth in a World of Lies, presents a strong view of parents’ responsibility. Faust and Manning contend that conservative parents must equip their children to fight for truth in a world addicted to lies.
As deeply as conservatives love institutions, Faust and Manning remind their readers that parents are the first line of defense in the modern era. Families should not rely on schools, clubs, teams, or other institutions to inculcate a love of truth within students. Today, these institutions tend to flatten truth claims. At best, a classroom discussion makes room for all points of view without declaring one perspective true or another false. In such a world, children need adults who teach truth. Those adults, Faust and Manning maintain, are their parents.
Parents have a unique responsibility as the “sea rises higher and the sky grows darker,” to borrow G.K. Chesterton’s description of civilizational decline in “The Ballad of the White Horse.” Parents must teach their children the truth about things. This is no single-conversation charge, but rather the acceptance of a life-long conversation. It’s always been important, but today’s radical nature of progressive ideology and the specific ways that the progressive agenda targets children make the task of raising children in accordance with reality more important than ever before. And the warriors in this fight, Faust and Manning contend, are parents.
In Them Before Us, their first book, Faust and Manning present social science data showing that children have a biological need for both “mother-love” and “father-love.” They argue that the biological need children have for both kinds of love means that homosexual adoption is never in the interest of children, and that our society has sacrificed the needs and rights of children for adult sexual desires. However, Raising Conservative Kids is a different kind of work. If the reader seeks summaries of scientific studies, Raising Conservative Kids is not the right book. Faust and Manning did that work in their previous book; this time, they write directly to conservative parents.
The nature of Faust and Manning’s conservatism is central to the book. Conservatism in an American context can take many forms: social conservatives who care about specific policy positions; fiscal conservatives who want greater financial restraint; religious conservatives who want one or two issues to be determined by doctrinal position; those who are just conservative by comparison with the Left; libertarians who do not recognize a particular tradition to “conserve,” but want governmental overreach to be curtailed; and so on.
To address conservative parents in the American context, Faust and Manning define the conservatism they want to cultivate by laying out a series of propositions. Those propositions then become the truths parents should train children to defend. Their conservatism is broadly American, but extendable to other national traditions with a clear foundation and traditional interpretation of human rights. The principles which make up their conservatism are:
- “We believe that national identity, national borders, national sovereignty are good…Conservatives also seek to conserve the founding principles of this nation—limited government, separation of powers, checks and balances, federalism, republicanism, and individual rights.”
- “Not freedom from religion, but freedom of religion.… Conservatives seek to preserve the right to practice our faith and live out our convictions, especially in the public square.”
- “We seek to conserve the reality that men and women are gloriously distinct and both make equally important contributions to society.”
- “Marriage, as defined prior to 2015 [the Obergefell U.S. Supreme Court case], is not equivalent to gay marriage. Singularly, the union of man and woman creates the next generation, and a child has the right to be raised by the two people responsible for his or her existence.”
- “Just as children have a right to their own parents, parents have a right to their children.”
- “Every human being inherently possesses the right to life from the moment of conception until natural death, thus we seek to conserve the scientifically undeniable position that a child in the womb is a human being with rights deserving protection.”
- “People of all races are created in the image of God and the dignity of the individual should be center-stage politically, culturally, and interpersonally. Conservatives believe that merit should be the sole consideration when assessing a person’s potential.”
- “Mankind’s inherent dignity cannot be fully realized unless people are afforded the exercise of free choice that only voluntary labor and trade can provide. The free market is the most moral means of commerce…conservatism requires constant vigilance against the ever-present threat of collectivism and the danger it poses to the American way of life.”
After establishing a catechism of their conservatism, Faust and Manning make clear that they do not believe conservative families should retreat from Blue states (which reject conservative principles in favor of progressive policies), and they do not think that good conservative families should abandon public education. Both Faust and Manning are supportive of homeschooling, private schools, and school choice options, but maintain that, for most families, public education makes economic sense. Both have multiple children who have gone through the Seattle public school system, and their book grew out of the need to train their children to be conservative advocates.
The central chapters of the book are dedicated to a specific training method. They write, “Your goal as parents, especially conservative parents living in America’s leftist hellholes, is not to keep your child safe, shielded from the madness and insulated from the insanity. Your job is to train your kids to stand firm against the ceaseless assault on their principles, because they know what they are and why they are for it.” This is not a recommendation for brainwashing children, but rather a recognition that truth exists, and parental responsibility includes teaching children truth. Faust and Manning maintain that leftists will bring false ideas to children. Effective parenting requires that parents get to their own children with truth before anyone can introduce lies to them. “They are going to hear about porn and white privilege from someone; that someone needs to be you.” They argue that “it’s a question of which sources of information your kids will consider authoritative. And that’s why YOU, conservative mom or dad, must establish yourself as the authority in your child’s eyes.”
Parents must start this process of establishing themselves as authoritative earlier than expected: “For maximum impact you need to make some headway with every topic you’re concerned about before they step into middle school. Unfortunately, this means you’re generally broaching these subjects between first and third grades.” These grades correspond to ages 6-8. The goal remains clear: “You’re not raising children to keep in your red-state harbor; you’re training adults to launch into the stormy ocean blue.” Faust and Manning charge parents with the goal of passing conservative values to their children, knowing that the surrounding world advocates the opposite. Success in such a venture requires planning and an early start; parents who do not want to lose their children to progressive madness must “begin with the end in mind.”
From this foundation, Faust and Manning encourage parents to embark on a research journey; to train their children, parents must become experts in the issues. They advise parents to follow a “no-flinch” policy, where parents purpose to never respond negatively when children describe ideas, events, or happenings they encounter. “For example, when your fifth-grade daughter tells you that her girlfriend has a crush on her and wants to date her, she’s trying to process her own discomfort and confusion,” they write. “But if she’s been conditioned to expect she’ll have to endure your ‘damn this sick culture’ emotional diatribe before she gets answers, connection, or emotional clarity, there’s a good chance she’ll choose someone else with whom to process—like her teacher, her friends, or the internet.”
They detail an age-appropriate strategy for training children: In elementary grades, introduce conservative ideas and explain how Leftists twist truth. In middle grades, coach students to dive deep into factual data and philosophical analysis as they confront leftist ideas. In high school, parents become consultants who offer advice as needed. They summarize: “You’ll be saturating your kids in truth during elementary school, introducing them to challenging concepts in middle school, and staying connected to high schoolers.”
By the time they graduate high school, children should hold their convictions strongly and be able to live according to them in a woke world. Having convictions alone is insufficient; children must be armed with information and argumentative strategies to challenge lies that fill the public square. Faust focuses on two examples, describing her high school age children advocating for the personhood of the unborn, and the necessity of a mother and father in the home for the child to flourish. In both cases, Faust’s children argued based on current social scientific research to support their claims.
Raising Conservative Kids in a Woke City is an excellent book reminding parents that they are the answer to left-wing lunacy. Parents are God’s gift to children, and part of their responsibility is preparing children to inherit a crazy world. Faust and Manning have written a blueprint showing the way forward. Ours is not the path of retreat, but rather of training for battle. This is how we prepare the next generation to step into their inheritance: teach them truth, show them how to love the good, and help them stand up for their convictions in a world that denies reality.