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Do Politics and Children Mix?

by Ronald A. Rowe | July 26th, 2010 | Elementary

Do children and politics mix? The obvious answer would seem to be “no,” but the issue is a little more complicated than that. Consider that their opinions are going to be shaped by someone – books, movies, TV, friends, teachers – shouldn’t we be at the forefront of their political and philosophical development?

Then again, whenever someone else’s young children have a strong opinion, especially one with which you disagree, don’t you sigh and think how unfortunate it is that their parents are indoctrinating them like that? Come on, be honest.

In working with children over the last several years, I’ve noticed two paths that parents are taking. One is to leave their kids in the dark politically. They avoid any discussion of politics in front of the kids. They stake out a neutral position when the kids are around. To my way of thinking, these parents have abdicated their responsibility to bring up their children in wisdom.

At the other side of the spectrum are the parents who constantly tell their kids how great (or awful) the President, the Governor, or whoever is and push their opinions on the children as rock-solid fact. While the desire to impart guidance onto the children is wonderful, politics is not an area of absolutes. An informed voter needs to be able to process information about candidates and select those whose platforms most closely conform to their own views.

How do you walk the line between pushing your own philosophical agenda on your child and outsourcing the mentorship of your child to the school system? There has to be a way to give a child the information they need to make an informed decision, color it gently with your (correct, of course) point of view, and then walk them gently to the point of independence. Children should learn values, and the ability to apply them, from their parents. If we can do that, our children will go on to make good choices in developing their own political philosophy.

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