political child abuse

In my continuing efforts to be the meanest parent in the world, I forced my children to sit through two political speeches tonight. The youngest two sat in my lap and fidgeted while the older children slumped in their chairs and quietly mumbled complaints. The children were subjected to my shouts at the screen as if I was watching something as unimportant as a football game. Normally, it is my nature as a Southerner to make a huge deal about the things that are insignificant and quietly deal with the important things. Politics and parenting are the exceptions to that rule. My children know beyond the shadow of any doubt that I think politics are a very big deal that should be treated seriously and never taken for granted. I can’t tell them my children how to vote, but I will never stop telling them to read and watch and listen to the world around them. Voting is a privilege and I don’t want my children to sit back expecting the answers to be handed to them. They have to be seekers. Seekers and believers. I just hope there is a political interest gene. It’s late developing, but it has to be in there somewhere.

9 thoughts on “political child abuse

  1. I think we have trouble separating politics from leadership. Last night was a prime example.

    I don’t know, it’s fine to expose kids to the democratic process but forcing them to watch a speech? That seems a little harsh and apt not to do a lot of good.

    As you can tell, still not feeling a single ounce of the Obama magic. It’s just totally nonexistent – I wish someone could explain it.

  2. I love this post. Just this morning I was thinking about everything we take for granted, but my mind hadn’t made it down the list to politics yet.

    I know, it should be higher, but I was still on things like “food,” “medical care,” and “education.”

  3. I am some where in the middle. I want my daughter to be aware, and she knows we pay attention (a lot) to politics, but at the same time, there are better sources of information (and better uses of time) than straight forward speeches many times.

    Like Barry, I would be concerned with making them watch a speech having the opposite effect of what you hope. But certainly the general enforcing of making your voice heard is definitely a lesson more people should be instilling in their children. (and be paying attention to themselves for that matter).

  4. For me, part of making Tommy watch the speech was to force him to become aware of the political process. He will vote in November (unless he’s playing World of Warcraft then he’ll miss it–could we have electronic voting through WoW?) but he is not ready to reach out and get involved in politics. If we don’t shove some in front of him, he’s just going to vote for whichever candidate has someone stationed 100 feet from the polls and is the last person to speak to Tommy before he enters the voting booth. That said, I want him to watch some of McCain’s speeches also. I want Tommy to be an educated voter and to vote for the candidate he feels best qualified to lead this country.

    This speech I felt was a historic moment. It would have been a historic moment had Hillary Clinton been accepting the democratic nomination. This is the first time a black man has been a candidate for the president of the United States (and it could have been the first time a woman was a candidate for the president of the United States). Either way, history has been made and much the same as other monumental moments stand out in our memories, this is moment was one to not be missed and 20 years from now my children will be able to say, "I remember listening to that speech."

  5. I guess I just feel if it had happened 40 years ago (or maybe even 20 years ago) it would’ve been considered “momentous” but today, blacks and women have completely broken through any arbitrary barriers placed in their way so it was just a matter of time that one would be a presidential nominee. Or maybe president.

    Today it feels almost anti-climactic. We’ve known for months and months it would be either the first black man or the first woman… But mostly I’m just saying it’s only momentous in the way Barry Bonds setting the home runs record was – it had been inevitable for a long, long time and when it finally happened, eh. It’s tainted because he used steroids for half of them.

    I can understand educating Tommy on the process since he can vote in the fall (you are giving him the option to choose to vote, right? Not just whether to stop playing WoW and get out of the house, but the choice whether the chooses to vote at all? That’s as important as going to vote in the first place. It’s certainly why I decided not to vote in a primary…)

  6. The option is totally his. I have opted to not vote in elections before because I had not educated myself on the issues or the candidates. I felt I would just be randomly picking names and that doesn’t help the process. If Tommy doesn’t feel comfortable voting or is just voting because someone is telling him to vote, then he should bow out.

  7. my son is only 8 but he is well aware of how much hubby & I watch the news and was able to put it all together when I took him with me to vote in the primary. It is good thing to expose your kids to the process so hopefully they won’t just vote for the first person on the ballot or by straight party lines.
    I am going to disagree with Barry is was a historic moment in this country’s history regardless of whether or not we knew it would happen eventually!

  8. I agree it’s historic, but mainly in that “America nominated the first black candidate for president in June of 2008” way rather than “American nominated its first black presidential candidate” way. It’s a first, yes, but now it’s just a notable statistic rather than an event.

  9. As someone whose parents made her watch the nightly news and the occasional political debate/speech, I’m pretty sure your kids will thank you someday, too.

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