Things have already gotten pretty ugly in the 2012 presidential campaign, and with two-and-a-half months to go before Election Day they’re only going to get uglier. With so much negativity coming from both sides, parents would be forgiven for wishing their kids could be blissfully unaware of the election. Unfortunately, that isn’t really possible in this day and age.
So what do you tell your kids about all of this madness? Yesterday I had a chat with two friends about this, and their opinions were so different that I was left without a clue what to do in 2016 when Annie is old enough to know what’s going on.
Our conversation started when I casually mentioned that I was annoyed whenever I heard a little kid say they liked one candidate over the other.
“Really?” I snarked. “Lil’ Timmy prefers Romney’s position on capital gains taxes to Obama’s?”
This lead one of my friends to say that she actually liked it when a child expressed a preference for a candidate. The kid may not know specifics about the candidate’s policies, she said, but they are taking part in the process and coming to understand how our political process works. Even more, she felt it was important that, as a parent, she made it clear to her child which party/political ideology their family subscribed to. She wanted her kids to know, for example, that their family supported the Democrats because they were in support of gay equality.
My other friend couldn’t have disagreed more. She was of the opinion that parents should do their best to be impartial politically in front of their kids, and try to present both parties as equally viable alternatives. This way, she said, their kid would be able to make their own mind up and not simply be a mouthpiece for mommy’s and daddy’s political beliefs. Also, they would grow up to be respectful of different political beliefs.
Personally, I see value in both of their opinions. I like the idea of making a family’s values clear to your children, but at the same time I think it is so important to raise kids who are respectful of others’ beliefs. As our country grows more contentious every year, we need more kids who grow into adults who act like adults.
What do you think? Should parents include their children in their political beliefs? Or should they be impartial? Personally, whichever one will make Twitter less annoying around an election is a-okay with me.