Politics and kids

I’m not a big political person. I’ve been more informed this election than in years’ past, but there are topics that I remain uneducated about. When I voted, there were LOTS of candidates for non-presidential offices that I know nothing about. I just say this because I don’t want to give the false impression that I’m something I’m not.

I’ve involved Jackson in as much as the process this election as I reasonably could. He watched two of the debates with me. We’ve talked a lot about the election process over the last few weeks. He went in with me to vote and pushed the final “submit my vote” button. And he wants to stay up with me tonight and watch the election coverage. He’s very interested in the whole thing. But he really doesn’t know a whole lot about what each candidate stands for. He is innocent to the most pressing “issue” on my heart, which is abortion. I thought about how to bring it up to him in a way that he could somewhat grasp it and I decided that that’s not a load for him to have to bear yet. But in spite of his lack of understanding, he still wants my candidate to win.

I started to feel a bit burdened by that this morning as I heard my boys state my opinions as their own regarding the candidates. I felt a bit guilty…for about five minutes. But it’s a natural thing for us as parents to project our beliefs and preferences onto our kids. I think that’s a good thing. We put team jerseys on our kids…well, we don’t, but most people do…, we tell our kids that such and such college is better than another, we tell our kids what music is worth listening to and what shows are worth watching. Our kids are filled up with their parents’ opinions. That’s just the way it is.

The problems lies when our kids reach the age or maturity level where they decide that perhaps they don’t share their parents’ opinions. It becomes a problem if the parents are disappointed that their child’s views are different. At this point, my kids hold my political opinions because I’m their biggest influence. But I’m also being careful to give them the tools to make their own decisions as they grow. That’s why Jack watched the debates. That’s why I tried very hard to keep my biased opinions to myself. That’s why when I voted with him I said, “Now when you’re old enough to vote, do you have to vote republican?” That’s why I was proud of the answer he gave, “No. I can vote for whoever I want.”

And whoever they grow into, regardless of religion, career, university, sexual orientation, or political affiliation, whoever they decide they need to be, they will always have my respect and adoration. I’m not raising clones. I’m not raising me. My hope is just that they will make wise decisions and be respectful of the opinions of others who are different than their own.

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