Unpublished: Parenting and Politics

Awhile back Jana and I asked our two teenage boys some questions about our parenting.

"Brenden and Aidan, do you know if your parents are Democrats or Republicans?"

They said "No."

"Do you know who we voted for in the last Presidential election?"

They said "No."

--from an unpublished post about parenting and politics

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16 thoughts on “Unpublished: Parenting and Politics”

  1. I teach 8th grade history. How would you explain the difference to your teenagers?

  2. On this 70th anniversary of the fire-bombing of Dresden, perhaps I can be allowed to pay homage to one of my favourite authors:

    The two real political parties in America are the Winners and the Losers. The people don’t acknowledge this. They claim membership in two imaginary parties, the Republicans and the Democrats, instead.
    Kurt Vonnegut (Wampeters, Foma and Granfalloons)

  3. I remember as a kid being shocked to find out that my mom had voted for Bill Clinton. I had never heard anyone in church say a good word about him, so I simply assumed that he was the devil incarnate. When I found out she had voted for him, I figured she must have been duped or made a mistake. It's funny how we often just assume those around us are correct, and that everyone in the world must feel the way the people around us do.

  4. My daughter will most assuredly not say the same thing. We talk politics a LOT in my house. My husband and I both have activist backgrounds, and I am way left of center politically. (for the U.S. anyway - I'd probably be a moderate in Canada.)
    I'm actually an independent, but only because I want to be able to vote in Democratic primaries, which I can't do if I register Green.

    Do you think the fact that your teenage kids don't know how you vote is a good thing or a bad thing? I'm all in favor of teaching my daughter compassion and critical thinking, rather than blind partisanship, and making sure she knows my love for her is not contingent on where she lands politically, but if she didn't know my political inclinations, then that would mean she didn't understand my values, which seems like it would be a failure on my part.

  5. In Georgia we are either Georgia fans or Georgia Tech fans. When our pastor said that he was a Tech fan, my daughter told me that her first thought was "oh no, he's a democrat." Go Dawgs!

  6. That's exactly why this post was unpublished. I started the post with this story and then when on to write how this was a good thing. But then I began to wonder, Is it really a good thing? I ended up with mixed thoughts and feelings about this and never published the post.

    But I posted this part of the post to simply raise that question for readers. Is it a good thing? Or a bad thing? And how can it go well or badly?

  7. This is simply not credible.

    Aside from the nit-picking that would appeal only to dyed-in-the-wool empiricists - of course they don't KNOW the answers to those questions - surely you could have framed the question, even if only as a thought experiment to yourself so as to avoid self-delusion, as, "for whom do you think your parents voted in the last presidential election, and what degree of confidence do you assign to your guess?"

    In fact, that's what I assume YOU meant when you asked the questions.

    Either they are demurring, giving you the answer they know you want, or they're not being serious.

    I know, I know, I'm "projecting."

  8. Well, if they thought you'd voted for Dubya, McCain, or Romney, surely you'd have known it from their "we're-leaving-home" note.

  9. You have teenagers? How did I miss this fact? I find that having a teenager living in the house is an overwhelming part of my life.

    At our local elementary school, when there is a presidential election, the school holds a mock election, allowing the kiddies to vote. The result is completely a reflection of their parents' political leanings. I suspect that by the time the kids get to high school either a) they have learned not to voice their own political views out loud or b) they have decided not to care.

  10. Were I of a cynical bent (Qui? Moi?), I would cite Samuel Johnson: "Sir, there is no settling the
    point of precedency between a louse and a flea."

  11. Do you see religious values as influencing and reflecting political values? (And probably vice versa as well.) I am deeply puzzled by why you would keep your political views secretive when you so obviously have been guiding their religious values (not necessarily in a doctrinal sense) quite openly. What is it about political affiliation that makes it so different?

  12. I think any time that things tip over into indoctrination or consistent demonization of people who disagree or an unwillingness to consider other points of view, things go bad.

    But I am a strong proponent of age appropriate in-depth political and religious discussions with kids - I think it's important that kids grow up knowing how to engage the world, and being able to navigate politics and religion is a part of that.

  13. I ask this as a mom whose three now-adult children have early childhood memories of Sunday School as well as of picketing and holding posters at election rallies.

  14. Richard, the best comment to settle your mind is would you feel the same if a conservative's/libertarian's child said the same (no)? If you wanted their children to be ignorant of opposing (meaning their parents' beliefs but wanted your children to know (and adhere to) yours, that is hypocritical. If you wanted all children to make up their own mind, that's at least consistent.

    What I don't like are parents who want carbon copies of themselves but decry the "indoctrination" and "brainwashing" done by the opposite side. This is a problem on all sides of the political spectrum.

  15. How bizarre. But for consistency, I take it your children do not know your religious beliefs either.

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