6.29.2008

My Daughter the Democrat

Oh how could I.

How could I even forget to mention the most awesomely awesome thing that just happened?

Right. I'm so sleep deprived now that Thalia is back to sleeping in my bed only when I am in it with her and am willing fall asleep with her (after an hour or two) while holding her hand and reading her eighteen stories and convincing her that the dark is not scary and clocks are friendly.

Ahem.

When I first was pregnant with my little non-sleeping angel, someone turned me onto Brain, Child magazine. I flipped through the pages thinking yes! Yes! YES! Oh YES to something smart and wonderful and well-written for parents out there that has nothing to do with top ten lists or exercise tips or recipes that include the term Jell-o Brand Gelatin or Crock Pot, sometimes together. This is before I discovered blogs, of course.

Mostly your blog. Yes, you. Yours rocks. Have I told you that lately? I know I haven't commented. It's not personal; I'm really really tired. Did I mention Thalia's not sleeping?

Ahem.

One day, I thought, one day if maybe I work really hard on it and stop overthinking every freaking word and forget for a moment that I'd been turned down twice by McSweeney's and don't chicken out at the last minute, maybe I could pitch the editors something they might deem worthy.

This month, I have my first piece in Brain, Child - it's one side in a debate as to whether you should raise your child with your own political values.

Can you guess which side I took? I mean, I do contribute to MOMocrats.

Click over to read or better yet, get yerself a whole subscription, woman! It's totally worth it. (Coincidentally, the first piece in the issue is an editorial about J&J Camp Babygate which mentions Mother Goosemouse, Her Bad Mother, Citymama, and Susan Getgood among other fine blogging mamas.)

The other POV in the debate, from a writer named Lora Shinn, is wonderfully thoughtful. I'd love to know what you all think after reading both sides...

[illustration via brain, child]


39 Comments:

Blogger Mrs. N said...

As someone who's already bought a "My mama's for Obama" onesie in case my daughter, who is due 11/10 decides to pop out early, I was already prejudiced to side with you.

From a purely academic standpoint, I can understand both sides of the argument. It certainly drives me crazy when my 5th graders bashed the Democrats without actually understanding why they didn't like the person in question. I enjoyed watching my 6th graders begin to separate their views from their parents and start to articulate why they thought what they thought.

Developmentally, the children are going to start thinking for themselves whether we want them to or not around 12/13 years of age.

I still agree with you. I think it's our responsibility to teach our children our values, and I don't understand how political views are different from religious views. As a Democrat, there are things I believe in intrinsically from gay rights to abortion to unions.

It's inevitable that our children will think for themselves and I would be equally horrified if my daughter came home Republican one day. But if she could give me an articulate rationale and prove that she'd thought it out and had REASONS for doing so...I could at least respect her thought process if not her conclusion.

I suppose it could be worse--she could come home a Yankees fan (just kidding here).

6/30/08, 1:04 AM  
Blogger Dana said...

I got my first month's copy in the mail ages ago and I kept meaning to come over here and comment...but you know me and political things....[wink wink].

It was a great article! I really liked it. Especially the second second paragraph. I let out a little chuckle. :) "A Democrat." Still makes me giggle, because it's so clever.

6/30/08, 2:30 AM  
Blogger Marinka said...

Great article, and although I agree with you in spirit, I find it unbearable to hear children parrot their parents' political beliefs. Maybe it goes back to the kids that I saw in camouflage with CIA (Christians in Arms) arm bands, protesting outside St. Patrick's cathedral during the Gay Pride march in 1995. And of course I see the difference between that and putting a "Hillary's My Girl" tshirt on your kid. I guess my bottom line is similar to the one I use in Scrabble--the kids has got to be able to explain why she's wearing a t-shirt with a political slogan. What? I'm the only one who insists that Scrabble players be able to define the word they put down? Could this be why no one plays with me?

6/30/08, 5:52 AM  
Blogger Mom101 said...

Marinka -

I wonder if it matters exactly what the cause is when we bristle at political kids. When I see children walking with their parents at a peace march, it gets me all weepy - like whoo! Next generation of awesomeness. If I saw that same St Patrick's protest my heart would ahve broken too. Is there a line?

And yeah, my brother won't play Boggle with me for that reason. But I think it's an excuse not to have his butt handed to him.

6/30/08, 6:53 AM  
Anonymous Motherhood Uncensored said...

If people have an issue with teaching their kids their own political values, then technically speaking, they should be taking them to a whole bunch of churches, right?

Values are values. The holidays you celebrate, the voting booths you visit. I think the question is explaining to your kids (when the time is right) why we believe what we do.

If your kid is telling my kid about how people go to Heaven and Hell (at the ripe young age of 3), then don't be pissed if mine is telling you how much Bush screwed over this country.

6/30/08, 9:01 AM  
Blogger Marinka said...

Damn it, I meant Boggle!
I'm not good at line drawing--I think kids need to know what they're talking about before they can be hardcore anything. Otherwise, the line gets drawn at the "I'm right, they're wrong" point. Of course my husband and I are terrified that we are so liberal (both from uber conservative families) that our kids will become neo-cons and have portraits of Cheney in their college dorms.

6/30/08, 9:16 AM  
Anonymous Moms At Work said...

My husband's a Republican. I vote Democrat.

Who knows what that means for our kids!

6/30/08, 11:27 AM  
Blogger Smiling Mama said...

I'm with you! I just wrote a post recently about my 2nd grade teacher telling us in 1984 that Walter Mondale "killed babies" and would make us go to school year-round. After that my classmates and I started making up playground cheers for Regan. But, I was terrified to tell my grandmother I was "supporting Regan" (at age 7!)as I knew she was a huge Democrat. She told me she'd love me no matter who I was supporting but that my teacher was wrong!! I think that was the last time I "supported" a Republican!

6/30/08, 11:59 AM  
Blogger Cynthia said...

I think it's naive to think that we won't influence our kids' political beliefs, even when we're not trying. In the abortion example that Ms. Shin provides her daughter, she is biasing her child's reaction by using the term "baby" as opposed to fetus, for example. I think that whether we like it or not, our reactions to news stories or stories kids tells us about their day at school are going to affect what they believe in whether we like it or not. So why not give them some ethical starting points to work with?

I think adolescence will prevail again and again anyway. I rebelled against my mother's Catholicism in adolescence thinking it was backwards and conservative only to realize later that my core values (belief in humanism, helping those in need, feminism, opposing the death penalty and opting for community over individuality) all come from her Latin American, Virgin Mary-adoring, helping the underdog version of Catholicism. And I'll promote these values while raising my daughter with or without Catholicism.

Finally, there are simply a few things I will not tolerate from daughter as I'm raising her - i.e., racism, classism, turning her back on those in need -- and if that means that I'm not letting her "think for herself," she'll just have to be my little lemming until she's old enough to pay her own rent.

6/30/08, 12:17 PM  
Blogger Mom101 said...

Fabulous Cynthia. Next time you'll write the article!

6/30/08, 12:38 PM  
Blogger Emily said...

I think the true answer is not nearly as easy as either of you make it out to be. Yes I would be mortified if my future children thought the holocaust was fiction or that the only thing that mattered in the world was money but I would be equally upset if my children marched forth on only my word without thinking for themselves. If they so ferverently believe what I tell them how long will it be before they find someone else's rhetoric to spout. I want to challenge my children to understand why they believe whatever it is they do. But to do so WE need to know exactly WHY we believe what we do.

I remember as a 14 year old when a local hospital had a vote on whether or not to allow abortions to be performed there. The debate divided everyone we knew - parents, teachers, other kids spouting the bible or their parents views and my dad found some articles in the paper that broke down each side and gave them to me. I remember being locked in my room reading the details and trying to work out what I felt about the situation. I was so proud that I had formed my own opinion and the feeling of wanting to be informed properly of both sides has never left me.

6/30/08, 1:34 PM  
Anonymous Manager Mom said...

Congrats on the piece! I, too, love Brain: Child, although I am astounded that they have thus far failed to recognize my brilliance. My fragile ego can only take so much rejection.

6/30/08, 2:09 PM  
Blogger kittenpie said...

To me, ideally, political standing is based on values, and to me, a big part of a parent's job is to teach their children values. So if your political leaning does spring from your values, how can you NOT be teaching them your politics at the same time, by extension? I'm not talking about telling them that republicans are wrong and evil and that they should never vote for them, I'm talking teaching them the same things that make the democrats a natural choice for you.

6/30/08, 3:02 PM  
OpenID lifeandtimesofawickedstepmom said...

Congrats on the article!

From my point of view, there definitely has to come a point where they think for themselves but that shouldn't stop us from teaching them our values and morals which by extension would include our political views.

6/30/08, 3:18 PM  
Anonymous Susan Getgood said...

As others have said, it is next to impossible to NOT impart our political views on our kids. What I find fascinating is what they choose to take on board. When the parents have similar political leanings, it's harder to see that the kids don't take everything on board. But they don't. They do make up their own minds. I am as Democrat as they come, and my husband is an Independent who might as well register as a Republican. I didn't make a conscious effort to steer Doug in any particular direction during the presidential primaries, and neither really did Dave. But... my husband sort of likes Mitt Romney and can't stand Hillary Clinton. Whereas I like Hillary and think Mitt Romney is just about the worst thing to happen to my state Mass. in a very long time.

And Douglas? Unprompted by me, he liked Hillary and recognized Romney for the fake he is.

Bottom line -- we share our political values with our kids whether we intend to or not. Give them credit though -- they do make up their own minds.

Oh and on that etiquette thing --keep on doing it. For a moment if only a moment the dick hogging two parking spaces has to recognize that he is one.

6/30/08, 6:26 PM  
Blogger Wendy Caffrey said...

My Dad is Democrat and my Mom is Repulican. I've heard them argue about who is right my whole life. I'm 30 now and still can't decide on a party. I think I'll just vote for whomever I like the most, regardless of their party.

As for my kids, I'm raising them to think for themselves. I may share my political views, but I also explain the other POV.

www.notesfromthesleepdeprived.blogspot.com

6/30/08, 7:11 PM  
Blogger Shay said...

Hey Mom101, again, great article and congrats on making it into my favorite "worthy" parenting mag.

I had a little what-if daydream today. I was visualizing Obama making it into office and how crazily happy that would make me and my entire family.

And I thought about how I would tell the story to my children one day- about what it really felt like to be an American at that moment, and I got all tingly and excited.

So I guess my take on the issue is, well, if you can't share with your children why something gets your blood flowing- including politics- well, that's just a little sad.

But I have more thinking on the issue to do before I get them wearing Obama-logo stuff, I guess. (Although my Father in law did send a hilarious anti Bush one-sie that we may just have to pull out one of these days...)

6/30/08, 7:35 PM  
Blogger TONYA said...

Mmm, I subscribed to that magazine about a month ago and still don't have one in the mail. Thanks for reminding me.

Congratulations, I'll have to check it out.

6/30/08, 8:16 PM  
Anonymous SpecialSauce said...

My neighbor's daughter just turned 10. A bunch of us were hanging out in the driveway (yep, we are in suburbia) and for some reason were talking about dolls. I was asking if there was a President Barbie doll at one point. And the 10 year-old responded, "There'll NEVER be a Hillary doll. Never. Never. NEVER!" and her mom added something about Hillary being butch. Cause, you know, McCain is a real hottie and isn't leading the most powerful nation in the world all about looks anyway? I wanted to tell them how sad I am, because when I was 10 I could never imagine a woman running for president, and here we had the first one and we're reduced to commenting on her pantsuits.
It also tells me a lot about how powerful what we say is to our children. The 10 year-old, I'm sure, is not encouraged to think about these issues herself, and is merely a parrot. I wish I'd asked her why she said that, but I'm sure she'd just look at her mom.
It does make me vow to make my kids think, to ASK them what they think, instead of just telling them. Except when it comes to, you know, stuff like being kind, sharing, etc, and, of course, liking baseball!

6/30/08, 8:31 PM  
Blogger CroutonBoy said...

Nicely done! I'll have to go pick up a copy. I usually prefer magazines that avoid "brain" or "child" in their titles (I have one devoted completely to firing hamsters at beer cans with an air-gun) but this time I'll make an exception.

And are you sure you want to be a Momocrat? Perhaps THIS will change your mind!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8G9jA-FGGd8

6/30/08, 10:14 PM  
Blogger prescott said...

The tone of some of these comments is interesting, in that there seems to be a consensus that it's "super awesome" to instill your kids with your values as long as they follow a "liberal" track, but "super sad" if they follow a "conservative" one.

Why? If you're going to take a position of moral relativism, then it's hard to claim that your way is the absolute right one, no?

But then, as an atheist independent who doesn't have a well-defined "side" to come down on, perhaps I have a somewhat unique perspective...

6/30/08, 10:15 PM  
Blogger Mom101 said...

Oh Crouton Boy that's just FABULOUS.

Prescott (hi Prescott!) point well taken. I'd guess most conservative readers are sitting this conversation out (although they're welcome to join in).

I think it's all relative - or even morally relative - by definition. If the question is "is it okay to instill your politics in your kids," then those who say yes are probably apt to have moral or ethical issues with the other side of the coin, whatever that may be.

Besides, a whole lot of liberal values are indeed "super awesome." If I do say so myself.

6/30/08, 11:04 PM  
Blogger prescott said...

My view is answering that question, "yes, it's OK", actually takes the relativity out of the equation -- because it's a definitive statement that can't pick or choose. Either it's OK or it's not, despite how repulsive you might find that parent's views to be. The power of the First Amendment comes from not letting ideas you agree with be voiced -- that's easy -- but rather ideas that you don't.

I actually follow and instill in my kids many liberal values -- I'm to the far left on social issues like abortion rights and gay marriage. But I also cherry pick things that are supposedly considered "conservative" like reduction in government intrusion that just make me wary of perpetuating this perceived us vs. them fight of our current two party system to future generations.

But to be clear I'm just trying to relate my own views and how I approach the subject with my own family, not judging how others approach the subject.

7/1/08, 12:04 AM  
Blogger Monica Shen said...

Great piece! I'm sorry I let my subscription to the magazine lapse.

I agree with many of the commenters that it's impossible not to color our children with our opinions, either for or against. I think it's my responsibility to help educate my boys with as much information as I can - why I believe what I do as well as why there are weak spots in the arguments.

7/1/08, 12:27 AM  
Blogger b said...

I don't get NOT raising your kids to your values. In our culture, if you have a political leaning, that usually is a pretty core value. I won't let my kids watch trash TV (most of it is), I pass on our religious beliefs, and I absolutely talk about our politics.

Someday she'll be an adult and be able to critically assess if she agrees with how we raised her, until then, I'll teach what I believe to be the right thing.

7/1/08, 10:55 AM  
Blogger b said...

Oh, and I'm rather Libertarian on Politics (or as my friends call it, UBER-conservative), but I still agree with your core point. Thought I'd mention that before you think we all abandoned ship.

7/1/08, 11:02 AM  
Blogger Georgia said...

Not a mom, but LOVED that article! Any advice for a daughter (me) whose mother has inexplicably turned into a conservative? No joke, she really and truly loves not only George Bush, but Cheney, and O'Riley! I haven't had the guts to ask her about Coulter yet, because I think my brain would explode.

7/1/08, 12:17 PM  
Blogger Mima said...

Congrats on a really well written article. I'm kidless and live in the UK, but I don't understand how you could grow up without your children learning about your politics, unless you did things like hid your newspapers (after all they all have political leanings), and didn't discuss the TV news with them. I think that indoctrination is too much though, and everyone should be allowed their own opinion!

7/1/08, 2:00 PM  
Anonymous Jenny said...

I think it's great to share your political views with your child,but I also believe it's important to have them ultimately make up their own minds about where they stand. I like Emily's example from when she was younger: I say introduce topics to them in a neutral manner and discuss both sides.

7/1/08, 3:47 PM  
Blogger My Kids' Mom said...

My Unitarian minister gave a sermon in which he explained that many UU's feel that we shouldn't tell our children what we believe, that we should let them make up their own minds. His point of view was that we need to give them somewhere to begin. Start them off by telling them what you believe. Tell them other people sometimes disagree. If other family members believe differently, name them. Make sure they know that other people are not bad for having different beliefs. Then, with a secure foundation they can begin to explore their own beliefs as they become teens. They have a starting place, but know you trust them to make up their own minds.

Religion, politics. Still fits.

7/1/08, 5:09 PM  
Blogger Jaelithe said...

Read the article from your Facebook link. Thought it was awesome. Also considering a subscription to the magazine now. So they should thank you ;)

Personally I feel there is a difference between teaching my son to uphold my values and teaching him about my political views, but there are many points of intersection. I try to explain things to him as objectively as I can, but when it comes to things like promoting racial and gender equality, keeping church and state separate, caring for the sick and helping the poor, sometimes I feel there really is only one right answer.

That said, as you know, I believe very strongly that a core liberal value is a willingness to listen to opposing points of view. So I do intend to expose him to a variety of views that clash with mine. But I also plan to make clear to him the reasoning for my own views.

7/2/08, 12:40 AM  
Blogger Staci Schoff said...

Congratulations! Great job! And McSweeneys doesn't know what they're missing!

Oh, and I will go a step further and say that we not only CAN but we have an obligation to teach our children to uphold values that we feel are important. And then they will grow up and move forward from there. It's called "progress" or "evolution of conscious" and other such things.

I have tried to convince atheists at points in my life that to raise your kids as atheists is indoctrination just the same as raising them with a religion -- but I can never convince -- not a good arguer apparently. Still, like all the atheists I know, with politics and religion and anything else I like to believe that I'm instillling the value of critical thinking in my kids too...

7/2/08, 1:50 AM  
Anonymous Alexis said...

Why on earth would you raise your child with anything other than what you believe? You could tell them about the other side's view, but surely you'd have to point out what's wrong with the other side. I'm not sure I even understand what the debate is, but then I grew up in a household in which calling someone a Republican was pretty much like calling them an ass****. I appreciate Lora Shinn's feelings, but I'm with you on this one.

7/2/08, 7:57 AM  
Blogger Piece of Work said...

My parents are both Republicans. My father, however, was big into letting us kids make our own informed decisions and raising us to be critical thinkers. He ended up raising two and 1/2 Democrats (my brother's a waffler). Although I know sometimes our difference in belief rankles him, I think he is proud that we all make our own decisions. Maybe because of that history, I am fully in Lora's camp. My kids know what I believe, and they know their grandparents believe something different, and they know that it is up to them to decide what they want to believe. The same goes for religion--we read the bible story book that my in-laws sent and we talk about what I believe versus what the in-laws believe versus what other people in the world might believe. So far my son is pretty sure Jesus walked on water but my daughter is more skeptical. And depending on who my son has spent more time with recently, he either really liks Obama or McCain. I think it's kind of cute to watch them try to understand grown up ideas, to roll them around in their heads and practice thinking about new things.

Though I hope to hell I don't have two Republican voters in my family in 15 years.

7/2/08, 1:22 PM  
Blogger the mama bird diaries said...

Congrats! Will check it out now... the mainstream parenting magazines make me want to cry with boredom so I love hearing about something awesome.

7/2/08, 3:56 PM  
OpenID 1crazymomma said...

I was reading my issue tonight and noticed your bio at the end. Awesome!
We had a Democrat too. Could they be twins?

7/6/08, 12:00 AM  
Blogger Cynthia Samuels said...

OK I posted a comment. I really is a thoughtful piece - and fun. As usual. Happy BD to Thalia, too.

7/7/08, 10:12 AM  
Blogger Lawyer Mama said...

Well, you know I have this issue b/c my husband's a Republican. We've agreed to discuss both sides of the issues with the kids. But I have to admit that I try to get in my Democratic plugs whenever I have the kids alone....

It was a great piece, Liz! Congrats! You rock!

7/10/08, 9:19 AM  
Blogger Ilina said...

Loved this piece! I added my $0.02 here http://www.dirtandnoise.com/2008/07/my-mom-democrat.html

7/14/08, 9:14 PM  

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