Sunday, October 19, 2008

Role models or rebels?

How often do children adopt their parents political attitudes? How often should they?

There's a new ad that turns this concept on its head by challenging children to get parents to adopt their cool support of Obama. The ad plays upon "the talk" and basically encourages kids to parent their parents. My friend, Karin, derides the peer pressure approach of the ad and then argues here on Townhall that parents should still have a role in cultivating their children's political outlooks.

I used to work for a nonprofit that brought highschoolers from all over the country to D.C. to learn about American history and government. It was both sad and funny to see how much these kids live up to their stereotypes. Nebraskans were zealots about their right to bear arms; California kids were much more likely to be liberal, hippies; and South Dakotans hate speed limits almost as much as they hate abortions. And all of these highschoolers were depressingly apathetic and ignorant about American politics. Whether these kids liked to admit it or not, their political opinions (what few they had) were direct reflections or rebellions of their parents. Though it was my job to encourage them to become politically engaged, I wouldn't count on any of them being able to change their parents' minds nor would I really want them to.

Children will either adopt blindly or rebel willingly against parental politics until they move into the real world, start educating themselves, and feel the onus of taxation. Parents can influence their children's perspectives by discussing the issues, encouraging discussion, and keeping an open mind. How did your parents' politics influence you?


Lex said...

As my dad complained about his work I adopted some of his outlooks on health care, but I think it was more WHERE I grew up that influenced me. I saw the destrutive power of unions and how ineffective policy was doing absoultly nothing to fix the problems that plagued Detroit. I saw how it was citizen driven programs that did more for the people than the corrupt government was doing (everything from supplying toilet paper for the schools when the city funds ran out to the citizen watches to limit arson on Devil's night.) The people were able to do much more than the government was able to help them with. Their unions put their jobs more at risk as they moved plants outside of Michigan where as the companies that used non-union suppliers were able to keep their plants local. I think those factors influenced me more than my parents did any day. Though, maybe I'm wrong, maybe I just don't SEE how the politics of my parents set the stage for my own personal political beliefs.

Rebecca said...

We are all great stereotypes.

But the biggest and hugest abomination in my book is when we grow up and thrust ourselves into the world, all the while never evaluating our 'core' (political views, religious views, etc) and thus become full grown imitations of what we once held to be right and true.

I wouldn't be nearly as worried as an 18 year old casting the same as their parents because its what they know as a 33 year old casting the same as their parents because they've never dared to learn.