Keep Your Kids Sheltered From Politics

kidWhen I was a kid, I rarely heard the grown-ups around me discussing the topic of politics. Sure, I’d catch a little snippet of a conversation between my parents from time to time as they watched the evening news, but that was about the extent of it. They never talked about such things with their friends and certainly not with me and my older brother.

When it came to their friends, my parents seemed to live by the “You can’t argue politics or religion” belief. When it came to us, they understood that it was a topic our young minds couldn’t possibly grasp, and that we wouldn’t have any interest in it even if we could.

Today’s different.

Discussing politics isn’t really all that taboo anymore. It often starts up in casual conversations among family, friends, and acquaintances. Things tend to go smoothly when everyone in the room is of like mind, but when they’re not? Well, I’m sure many holiday dinners are ruined because of such things each and every year.

Social media’s where you really see a lot of political rhetoric flying back and forth, and not always in the most civil of ways. It usually starts with someone letting off a little steam, and searching for a little validation from their friends who they assume will all agree with them. When one doesn’t, and lets their opposition-voice be heard, you can easily end up with a long, heated argument and some pretty hurt feelings by the time all is said and done.

You know, I’ve always found it fascinating that a lot of people naturally assume that everyone they know agrees with them politically. And when they find out that they’re wrong, they almost feel betrayed. I’ve never been that way. My assumption has always been that no one shares my political views. I suppose that’s why I tend to save my political commentary for outlets like BernardGoldberg.com. Believe it or not, I rarely ever bring up politics in my everyday life – that is, unless someone else brings it up first. I’m just not of the belief that my friends need to listen to me grandstand or impose my beliefs on them.

Still, political conversations between adults rarely bother me. It’s a free country. People can talk about whatever they want. What does bother me, however, is when adults drag their children into the political fray.

When my kids get out of school each day (they’re both the elementary age), I’m generally the one who picks them up. I meet them on the school playground before walking with them across a street and down a residential block where I park my car. A little over a year ago, when the 2012 presidential campaign was in full swing, a number of homes on that block had campaign signs displayed in their front yards. Some endorsed President Obama. Others endorsed Mitt Romney. This was nothing unusual during election season, of course.

What WAS unusual, and pretty disturbing, were some of the remarks I heard children make about the signs as they passed them on their way home from school. One day, I heard a young boy say, “I hate Obama!” Another day, I heard the same thing said about Romney, only it was followed up by an expletive that I won’t repeat. This kind of thing happened a few times, and I was taken back not just by the children’s words, but also by the seriousness with which their words were spoken. Their statements weren’t made as part of some attempt at humor, as a way of trying to get their friends to laugh. No, there was clear animosity there, which most certainly stemmed from the things they had been hearing their parents say at home.

I hear other stories from time to time that equally disturb me. I’m talking about those instances when the children of political candidates are harassed at school by other students because of who their parent is. Again, this problem comes back to adults. No child is going to torment another child for a reason like that unless they were influenced by something they’ve heard their parents say.

On Amazon.com, you can actually find children’s books that explain to kids why one political party is good and the other one is bad. It boggles my mind that any parent would actually buy such a book for their child, but some apparently do.

This never seemed to be an issue when I was a kid. I couldn’t have cared less about politics because it was a foreign topic. I was blissfully ignorant when it came to political philosophy, because the adults around me essentially sheltered me from it. And they did so with minimal effort. My friends were every bit as oblivious to those things as well.

As far as I’m concerned, that’s the way it should be.

Kids, especially at the elementary age, just don’t have the capacity to understand such things, nor should we expect them to. They’re very impressionable, and we as parents need to be mindful of imposing our political will on them, whether its done consciously or not.

I’m not talking about the principles we instill in our children, that may fall in line with a particular political ideology. That’s fine. I’m talking about how being weary of building resentment and stoking animosity in them toward an opposing political philosophy.

I understand the temptation, believe me. It’s not always easy to keep our adult views in check around our children, because many of us gravitate toward a particular political belief precisely because we’re worried about our children. We’re worried about their future. We want the best for them, and when we think people on the other side of the aisle are preventing that goal from being achieved, it’s tough to remain disciplined. With the disintegration of thoughtful political discourse in this nation in recent years, it’s become even harder.

Sadly, I think many grown adults these days tend to view political issues the same way a child might, and that doesn’t help the situation. We’ve been conditioned by a media culture engrained in ideology to look at issues in their most simplistic, instinctive terms. We’ve been conditioned to attribute the worst possible of intentions to those who disagree with the media’s sense of political-correctness.

If someone believes that government programs aren’t the best answer for aiding those in poverty, the media tells us that we’re supposed to believe that person lacks compassion and doesn’t care about poor people. If someone takes a firm, vocal stance against an issue like illegal immigration or a politician whose skin-color differs from their own, we’re supposed to assume they’re a racist.

Sometimes it’s not the media, but rather a traditionalist’s view of the world that leads people to vilify those who don’t share a generally-accepted premise. We convince ourselves that non-traditional lifestyles are attacks on the sanctity of our own, more traditional lifestyles, and again we find villains.

Unfortunately, reasoned debate in this country has largely been replaced with demagoguery and knee-jerk reactionaryism.

It’s this culture that makes it easier to assail those who see the world differently than we do, and I think that’s something we should protect our children from. I think we should teach them that it’s okay to think someone is wrong without thinking they are bad. From a Dead Sleep by John A. Daly

Several years ago, I remember hearing some media personality say that a person’s political affiliation tells you everything you need to know about them. I very much disagree with that. In my experience, someone’s politics alone tell you very little about the kind of person that individual is.

Personally, as many of you know from reading my columns, I’m conservative on most issues, and I’m very critical of the modern-day liberal movement because I believe it is doing enormous damage to our country. Yet, some of my best friends are liberals, and I would never trade their friendship for ideological compliance.

As frustrating as it can be for some of us to listen to someone support policies that we believe to be detrimental to the country, the truth is that the definition of one’s character runs much deeper than their voting habits.

I would hope that as we raise our children, we as a society could manage to keep that in mind.

Author Bio:

John Daly couldn't have cared less about world events and politics until the horrific 9/11 terrorist attacks changed his perspective. Since then, he's been deeply engaged in the news of the day with a particular interest in how that news is presented. Realizing the importance of the media in a free, democratic society, John has long felt compelled to identify media injustices when he sees them. With a B.S. in Business Administration, and a 16 year background in software and web development, John has found that his real passion is for writing. His first novel, entitled "From a Dead Sleep", is now on sale! He lives in Northern Colorado with his wife and two children. Like John on Facebook. Follow John on Twitter.
Author website: http://www.johndalybooks.com/
  • http://johndalybooks.com/ John Daly

    >>Then you attempt to conflate W’s recount which was completely warranted

    You misunderstood me. I was all for recounting the ballots. I’m talking about the left’s refusal to accept that George W. Bush won the presidency, even after the final recount. There are many people on the left who, to this day, insist that Bush stole that election.

    >>The only reason anyone mentioned McCain being born outside the US was
    that your side said it DQ’d all candidates on the left as impostors who
    weren’t born here so the Obama supporters said turnabout’s fair play.

    Wrong. The Birther movement didn’t catch wind with people on the right until after Obama had already won the presidency. Up until then, it was recognized largely as a dirty trick pulled by Hillary Clinton’s campaign during the primaries.

    >>I can’t think of one Dem pol who claimed that McCain was illegitimate

    I recall the U.S. Senate holding a hearing on McCain’s eligibility, so someone was clearly making it an issue. Which Republican politicians claimed that Obama was illegitimate?

    >>that he/she was a Truther

    Cynthia McKinney, Van Jones, and Alan Grayson come immediately to mind.

  • brickman

    I agree with much of what you said, well done. I have a question about the effort to squash the comments of legal eagle. He is somewhat of a pain in the hindquarters but you haven’t commented on efforts to in effect silence him. I take it that you view the more the merrier on the blog.I agree . I hope that’s your position.

    The area of my concern is your intervention in threads. As you say you are a conservative . You sometimes intervene to help a conservative or to dispute a moderate or liberal. I’m OK with that, you have a right to your opinion. I wonder why you never intervene when someone threatens to shoot or hang Obama or Hillary. It’s always those two.

    Why does no one on the right condemn those posts? I’ve never seen that happen.

    On a humorous note, did you ever find your glasses?:-)

    • http://johndalybooks.com/ John Daly

      >>I have a question about the effort to squash the comments of legal
      eagle. He is somewhat of a pain in the hindquarters but you haven’t
      commented on efforts to in effect silence him. I take it that you view
      the more the merrier on the blog.I agree . I hope that’s your position.

      There have been no efforts by me to “squash” the comments of legal eagle. Like many posters (both liberals and conservatives), he occasionally has a comment deleted by the moderators when it’s nothing but a personal attack, but he’s been free to post here for some time now.

      >>The area of my concern is your intervention in threads. As you say you are a conservative . You sometimes intervene to help a conservative or to dispute a moderate or liberal.

      I do not “intervene” to help anyone. I merely reply to posts that interest me or compel me to respond.

      >> I wonder why you never intervene when someone threatens to
      shoot or hang Obama or Hillary.

      Who on this website is threatening to kill someone? If you see a post like that, flag it and I or another administrator will take action.

      >>On a humorous note, did you ever find your glasses?:-)

      I don’t get the joke.

      • brickman

        I appreciate your response to the quashing of legal eagle. I didn’t accuse you of doing it, just the opposite, I just wanted you to address it. Thank you.

        I have seen threats to shoot or hang Obama or Hillary. I will flag them in the future. Thanks again.

        The reference to glasses is in response to a comment I made about FNC hiring George Will despite blowing the election prediction. You countered that FNC had not fired George Will and that I was confused. I went back into the site and saw that I had correctly typed hired. I replied about your need to find your glasses. No answer from you.:-)

  • Ted

    Good piece John. Love both sides aspect of it.

    • http://johndalybooks.com/ John Daly

      Thanks.

  • Tim Ned

    I grew up the same way. My wife and I raised my kids the same way and we seldom spoke politics. I have an interesting story. The first political heated race I recall was Nixon vs Kennedy that I recall impacted kids. I was in 6th grade and or course all the of kids for that particular race was influenced by their parents. We grew up in a working class neighborhood and I’m sure my mom and dad were probably the only ones that identified with Republicans. After the win by Kennedy my friends were giving me a hard time. My dad saw it and took me to the side and told me that they next time they asked why he voted Republican to tell them this.

    I (my dad) voted Republican because of the freedom of choice granted by this great country. Tell your friends that JFK is a war hero, a great man, and he will be a great president.

    I used that advice and my friends never brought it up again. Not bad advice from an uneducated man like my dad who left home after the seventh grade to help put food on the table for his family. 3 purple hearts, 1 bronze star, and severe wounds serving under George Patten. He retired as a manager for a major corporation.

    By the way, bought your book today from Amazon. I’ll be leaving next week to Europe on business and can’t wait to read it.

    • legal eagle

      Did you question why your father voted for a slime bag like Nixon?

      • tim Ned

        This was 1960 you bird brain. Watergate didn’t happen until many years later. Do a little history investigation before you post stupidity.

        • legal eagle

          Perhaps you should read about Nixon’s involvement in the Republican witch hunts in the late 40’s and 50’s as well his involvement in the HUAC during that period….By the way, feel free to refer to me as Mr. Bird Brain….LOL

        • legal eagle

          How do you think Nixon got on the 1952 ticket with Ike..He was a redbaiting McCarthy acolyte who made his name as member of HUAC…Google it…you might learn something….

          • Ted

            Yep, Nixon was one of McCarthy’s lieutenants back in 1948 which made him going to Moscow and China all the more surprising.

      • Ted

        Maybe because he didn’t have a crystal ball perhaps? Hindsight’s always 20-20 isn’t?

        Besides, back then the winner was respected because he was our President. My dad was awarded a Bronze star during WW2 as well and it was “my country right or wrong but my country”. Sadly, no more. Now, many here don’t even think their President was born here and doubt his religion despite him going to the same Christian church for 20 years. Makes you wonder how differently they’d treat him had he been a white President? Probably like all the other prior white Presidents.

        • Tim Ned

          Your Dad is a hero!

          • Ted

            Back atcha. All those vets were.

        • http://johndalybooks.com/ John Daly

          If only he were treated with as much respect as George W. Bush was. lol. Am I the only one who has a memory that spans beyond the last five years?

          • Ted

            Funny but I don’t recall W’s (or any previous non black President’s) citizenship or religion impugned and until that happens any comparisons are false equivalencies and no more than wishful thinking.

          • http://johndalybooks.com/ John Daly

            I’ve never made any excuses for the Birthers. The movement was ridiculous and I’ve taken it to task past columns. I will, however, point out some irony in the likelihood that President Obama himself originated the Birther movement: http://www.bernardgoldberg.com/what-obamas-literary-bio-says-about-the-media/

            Not to mention, it was actually Hillary Clinton’s campaign that got the ball rolling on Birtherism back in 2008. Would you agree that Clinton should receive the same scrutiny you’re currently giving to Birthers on the right?

            Still, questioning one’s legitimacy to be the president wasn’t exclusive to Obama. As you’ll recall, despite recount after recount clearly showing that Bush won Florida in 2000, there are still many on the left, to this day, who insist that Bush did not win. That was a clear attack on his legitimacy to sit on the White House.

            As you’ll recall in 2008, there was also a movement on the left to try and discount John McCain’s eligibility based on birth location, being that he was actually born along the Panama Canal. Had he won the presidency, that conspiracy theory would have certainly become more vocal.

            Now, if we’re comparing the degree of vitriol between conspiracy theories, I would argue that the Birther movement, as dumb as it is, is nowhere near as reprehensible as the 9/11 Truther movement which essentially accused President Bush of being behind the 9/11 attacks. There’s quite a big difference between accusing someone of being born in Kenya and accusing them of murdering nearly 3,000 innocent people. Don’t you think?

            I agree that people shouldn’t go after President Obama’s religious beliefs, even though he sat in a congregation led by an anti-American racist for 20 years, and regularly listening to his hate speech. While it’s true that Obama was raised for a time as a Muslim, I don’t see how that diminishes what he believes today.

            I think for a small fraction of these people, there probably is some racial element in questioning his birth origin and religious beliefs, but I also think most of them, by far, just can’t stand what the guy’s done while in office, so they’re latching onto all the dumb stuff – which is precisely what was done to George W. Bush.

  • Wheels55

    John,
    I grew up the same way. It wasn’t until I turned 18 and registered to vote that I realized my parents were Democrats (conservative). I found this out by my Dad looking at me crossed eyed when I told him I registered as a Republican. Later on, I realized that me being a closer to center Republican (now Libertarian) that I was not far off from my parents’ thinking.
    Yet, I don’t recall them talking politics at the dinner table nor with their friends (when I was around).
    I like discussing politics with friends and family, even if they see things very differently than me. I just don’t do it if the discussion has the potential to end up as an argument.

  • legal eagle

    What is your point? Don’t discuss politics with your kids? Do you know people whose kids care about politics?

    • http://johndalybooks.com/ John Daly

      If you’d actually read the column and not just the headline, the point shouldn’t be all that elusive.

      • legal eagle

        I did read it….I guess there is no point ..

        • http://johndalybooks.com/ John Daly

          Have someone else read it to you. That might help.

          • legal eagle

            Perhaps…LOL

    • Tim Ned

      I believe Johns point was clear that there is a difference between discussing politics with your kids and brainwashing them with politics. OMG I just had a thought. What if one of your kids was a Conservative? There would be hell to pay for them!

  • Josh

    I probably feel the same — I don’t see anyone sharing my political views entirely. I mean, hell, I’m a free-market-supporting, freedom-drum-beating, small government guy whose social circle is almost entirely the skeptic community: Hordes of Marxists, uberprogressives, Obamabots, fourth-wave feminazis and hypocrites who shun religion, aliens and ghosts due to lack of evidence yet still root for big government despite the damning evidence against it.

    It’s pretty clear that I’m basically on an island with my political ideology.

    When I do decide to have children, I’ve already decided that religion isn’t something I’m even going to tell them about. I’ll teach what I feel to be tangible and objective. (Depends on what mom says, in reality, probably!) If they find it, though, I won’t knock it. But when it comes to politics, I wouldn’t want my kids anywhere around it.

    I think I’d try to teach them a little bit of lone wolf philosophy mixed in with a hoarder. Believe what you feel is right, back it up objectively, ignore the crowds and what they believe, and never be afraid to change, add, delete or edit your beliefs. They evolve over time and change with new understanding. And, never, no matter how bad you want to, argue politics with upper-class white folk with a liberal arts degree. You can’t win.

    And I do hope this trend of politicized schools dies down in a hurry. It’s ridiculous.

    • Ted

      So, besides the ad populem nonsense that public schools are brainwashing and inculcating students, when was the last time you set foot in a public school or read a history book? All my septuagenarian, con friends regurgitate the same Rash Windbag inspired party line and not one of them has entered a classroom for half a century since they flunked out of 8th grade.

      • Josh

        What I said: And I do hope this trend of politicized schools dies down in a hurry. It’s ridiculous.

        What you said: So, besides the ad populem nonsense that public schools are brainwashing and inculcating students

        Strawmen freeze in this weather we’re having here in VA, cracking and blowing away. Not sure about where you’re located. Maybe they’re thriving.

  • Integrity

    I couldn’t have said it any better myself, so I won’t try. QED

    • http://johndalybooks.com/ John Daly

      Thanks Integrity!

    • Ted

      I can say it better so please allow me to.

      • Integrity

        LOL. You have a better chance of winning the lotto. QED