Raising politically active kids - Mothering Forums

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Old 04-20-2009, 03:19 PM - Thread Starter
 
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We have our provincial elections coming up and voter apathy among young voters is a huge issue. My personal guess is that politically engaged parents raise politically engaged kids - and the voter apathy in young voters has some other root cause, but I was at an interesting discussion this weekend that tried to pinpoint some solutions and parental roles kept coming up.
So - for those who raised kids who vote and those who are hoping that they do - what are you doing to encourage their interest?
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Old 04-20-2009, 03:40 PM
 
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I am republican and my xh is democrat. Both my older boys are VERY republican. My 17yr old sucessfully debated in his government class his choice for presidental candidate ( during the primary) and was the only one who got an A because he knew the issues and the platform his candidate was running on. I allow my boys to think for themselves and they do a good job. Both wear tshirts that read proud members of the christian republican right. Both boys have taken to arguing politics with their father who is VERY uninformed about politics. They both have strong views but back up their opinions. Its so cool to see your "babies" grow into informed young men :

Jeana Christian momma to 4 sons Logan 18, Connor 15, Nathan 6, and bonus baby Jack 1
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Old 04-20-2009, 03:44 PM - Thread Starter
 
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That's cool Jeana - I love the idea of my daughter being that involved someday. Did you do something special to stimulate their interest?
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Old 04-20-2009, 03:47 PM
 
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His dad and I discuss who to vote for, in front of the kid. For primaries, we clip all articles about candidates from the newspaper as we see them and put them in a stack with ads that come in the mail; then we leaf through all those and see if we have enough info and, if not, look up the people on the Web. WE ALWAYS VOTE in every election, even if there's nothing "really important" on the ballot.

Before the presidential election, we watched the conventions and debates. EnviroKid was very interested in these, moreso than we expected given that he was only three-and-a-half. We turned on closed captioning so we didn't miss any parts of the speeches while answering his questions. We explained a lot of the things we were reacting to. He understood some parts quite well ("Barack Obama wants to share the money, but John McCain thinks sharing is bad!") and he even noticed some things we didn't, of which these are my two favorites:
1. "Sarah Palin is not smart enough to be president, because look at her shoes! HIGH-HEELED SHOES ARE BAD FOR YOU!!!"
2. After watching Obama's acceptance and McCain's concession speech: "When Barack Obama said, 'John McCain,' the people clapped nicely. But when John McCain said, 'Barack Obama,' the people made mean noises." (I pointed out that McCain told the crowd to stop that.)

I was raised to be politically active myself, and it worked out pretty well. Although I started out believing everything my parents believed, primarily they were teaching me how to think through complex ideas, so by puberty I was forming some opinions that differed from theirs, and as an adult I have quite different stances on a few issues.

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Old 04-20-2009, 03:56 PM
 
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Dd's too young for us to know if it will 'stick,' but we discuss politics and current affairs around her and with her frequently (she's 7). Often at dinner we talk about what one of us recently read in the news or online, and she asks great questions about the issues we discuss. I think being part of ongoing conversation about social and political issues is really important to kids' development.

It's not just that I want her to be 'politically active' when she's older (although that would be great), because that can mean just shouting about your pet issues and reacting in a kneejerk way to those who disagree with you. It's especially important to me that she grow up being thoughtful about and engaged with the world around her - and hopefully being 'active' will come from that.

We also always bring her to vote with us, and talk about the process, how everyone is lining up, why they bring their id, how it might feel to be a new immigrant who finally gets to vote that day, etc.
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Old 04-20-2009, 04:07 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by mammastar2 View Post

It's not just that I want her to be 'politically active' when she's older (although that would be great), because that can mean just shouting about your pet issues and reacting in a kneejerk way to those who disagree with you. It's especially important to me that she grow up being thoughtful about and engaged with the world around her - and hopefully being 'active' will come from that.
Very good point - I know people who hold opinions rigidly - but do very little to actually educate themselves on the subject. I'll take a well-informed person with differing opinions over someone who spouts undigested rhetoric (even if I agree) any day But that's just me...
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Old 04-20-2009, 04:07 PM
 
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I am hoping my daughter (and all future kids) will at least be politically ENGAGED, if not politically active.

We are quite active with a provincial party where we live. I worked on my friend's campaign during the last election while I was pregnant... our garage is filled with his campaign signs. She attended her first political rally while still in utero.

Both DF and I are on the board of directors for our local constituency association for the same political party. So far DD has been to all of our meetings. She was less than two months old at our very first meeting, and everyone thinks it is neat that we can measure how long our association has been together by how big she is getting!!

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Old 04-20-2009, 04:13 PM
 
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Originally Posted by ceilydhmama View Post
That's cool Jeana - I love the idea of my daughter being that involved someday. Did you do something special to stimulate their interest?
Mornings at our house is news channels it always has been. We also watch 7:00 news here. We do watch a lot of Fox news but balance it w/ a splattering of NBC. We have always talked about whats going on in the world even when they were young. I took them on vacation to NYC the summer before the trade centers were hit and I think it stemmed from that. I try not to be to one sided and ask them what they think of things like presidental candidates, immigration, Iraq big governt vs small governt. Dinner time has always been discussion time. Few topics have been off limits. We even had the discussion of when life begins.

Jeana Christian momma to 4 sons Logan 18, Connor 15, Nathan 6, and bonus baby Jack 1
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Old 04-20-2009, 04:15 PM
 
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I'm NMY but I'm politically active. My parents discussed issues with us throughout our childhood and adolescenthood and now into adulthood. My guess is that like most other areas of parenting it matters more what parents DO then what they SAY. My guess is that by engaging children in discussions on voting, what your family believes in, vaules, and why, while staying tuned in to sources of information that children get the message that "this is what adults do" and so grow into adults that are actively engaged. My guess is also that simply saying "do this" or "vote" or "you should be interested in XYorZ" won't create that desire to engage.

Interesting topic!

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Old 04-20-2009, 04:53 PM
 
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I think if you approach things through the critical thinking and responsibility angle, it'll work out.

If you drag your kids around to all your pet projects even if they're not interested, and are overly invested in them thinking exactly like you on all issues, and you shelter them from opposing viewpoints (or couch it in, all those other people are stupid/evil/uneducated/heathen/insert perjorative here, then it can backfire.

I was extremely politically active on the religious conservative side in my teens and young adulthood because that's how I was raised. However, my life experiences later created pretty much a 180 flip. So I still use the skills I learned as a kid, just now I lean towards undoing some of the things I fought for earlier. I'd like to think that I would be more understanding and less punitive than my own family if something similar should happen, but it's really personal and I'm sure it's tough when your kid rejects the political/moral framework that you thought you raised them with. So I have no illusions that I'd be "totally okay" with it.

The one thing I don't do right now is take my kids to events where I have reason to suspect there may be violence--either due to troublemakers at the event, or potential police brutality. When they are older and understand the consequences and are physcially capable of damage mitigation (and I'm satisfied that they fully understand their albeit limited rights as juveniles), then I would consider letting them go.

But helping pass out leaflets/hang up signs/writing to our city/county/state/federal legislators, ect? Good stuff! And that really is the most effective way to get and stay involved anyway. And knowing full well that part of my children's independence may involve seeking out alternative politics/spiritual beliefs, it's been good for ME to learn how to keep a civil tongue in my head even if people dare to not totally agree with me.
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Old 04-20-2009, 10:28 PM
 
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Our children are too young to vote, but we do involve them. At the most basic level, discussing elections with them is important. They also go into the voting booth with us and participate in campaigning with us. We try to focus on both conversations about the electoral process and conversations about candidates.

Both DP and I are far-left, but we tend to vote Democrat (though I'll vote Green on some occasions). We supported different candidates in the primary (DP: Obama; Me: Clinton), and we talked about the differences with DS. During the general election, he proudly told anyone we were voting for Obama and *not* McCain (he was very adament on the not McCain part).

Beyond voting, we are a very politically active family. We talk about politics openly and answer questions the children have. When we get together with other families, the conversation almost always is political. DS' picture was in the newspaper recently from a rally we attended, and many commenters criticized having a small child there.

We don't hide that our hope is that our children share our politics. We don't call people who disagree with us "stupid" or other non-productive words in front of our children (though I can't say we never shorthand with those words when we're alone). We do discuss why we disagree with other positions, and as our children age, those conversations will become more complex.

It's us: DH , DS ; DD ; and me . Also there's the . And the 3 . I . Oh, and .
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