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Kids and Politics: Persuade to the Right or Meander to the Left?

By Cody |

Politics. I can look back on my life and wonder how I formed an opinion on such a thing in the first place. It’s kind of like how I wonder about what made me decide to become a lawyer.

I’m honestly not sure what made me want to be a lawyer in the first place. I remember wanting the job from a very young age, but for no apparent reason. However, I watched a movie about Thurgood Marshall and from that point on my decision was cemented in stone.

Yet, I can’t look back at any event in my life and really justify what made me fall on one political side or the other.

My first experience involving politics was when I was in the third grade. George H.W. Bush was running for president.  Kids at recess bragged about how they were Bush fans and that anyone who voted for Dukakis was a loser.

I think that experience says more about the kids’ parents than the kids themselves. What were they teaching these kids about politics that caused them to take such a strong stance? Do children really know anything about politics?

Months before those types of shouting matches conversations took place at recess, I had already made up my mind that I was a George H.W. Bush fan and that made me a Republican. Why? I watched some news clip on TV about President Bush’s military service and I was impressed.

I knew nothing about policy, the economy, or any of that. But I knew George H.W. Bush was a war hero and that was enough for me.

I tried to convince my dad, a Democrat, to vote for George H.W. Bush, but he found me unconvincing.  He didn’t tell me who he was going to vote for or whether he was a Democrat or a Republican. He just left it at the fact that he didn’t know who he would vote for.  That’s the stance my parents took on politics with me until I went to college.  It wasn’t until college that I learned how much my dad hated Republicans.

My dad’s passiveness on the subject allowed me to explore policies of the left and the right and choose for myself what my political persuasion would be. Ultimately, I stuck with George H.W. Bush and the Republican party. I cheered on Bob Dole and found myself hoping that George W. Bush would beat Al Gore, a hope that was based entirely on historical reasons.

Once I began working towards my history degree at the University of Utah, I began gravitating more and more to the left. Then law school pushed me back towards the right.

Now? I’m still conservative, but I’m also a big President Clinton fan.

Now that Addie is seven and hearing all kinds of things about “President Bobama,” as she calls him, and the upcoming elections, I find myself biting my tongue and keeping any opinions that I have to myself–whether those opinions be good or bad.  I have tried to remain passive so that Addie can make those kinds of decisions on her own as she grows and learns more about life.  Hopefully, I’m making the right decision.

How do you handle the subject of politics with your kids?

Photo Credit: Flickr

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About Cody



Cody is a father, husband, practicing attorney, and loyal football fan who is outnumbered by girls in every area of his life. He's also been known to drink maple syrup straight out of the bottle. Read bio and latest posts → Read Cody's latest posts →

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4 thoughts on “Kids and Politics: Persuade to the Right or Meander to the Left?

  1. Gib says:

    When I discuss politics with my kids, it’s going to be by showing them that South Park episode where there’s an election and the only choices are a giant Douche and a Turd Sandwich.

    1. theycallmecody says:

      @Gib, not a bad way to approach politics–and probably accurate more often than not.

  2. guajolote says:

    Our focus is on the policies that effect people. My dad is uninsurable – his pacemaker battery needs to be replaced when he’s around 57. What policies will help him? My brother in law paid his own way through college (as a private tutor) – but he’s undocumented and thus unemployable. What policies will help him put his computer science degree to work?

    1. theycallmecody says:

      @guajolote, I usually pick a few policies that affect my family and then I try to make my decision based on those policies. Picking the most important issues to you is not a bad way to approach politics when there are so many issues that have to be dealt with.

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