Allowing Kids to Participate in Politics

Allowing kids to participate in politics is a hot button issue. I mentioned that Z’s Rally to Restore sanity sign was making the internet rounds via the It’s Okay to be Takei Facebook page. The creator of that page was also at the Rally, liked the picture and added it to the page.

The original meaning of the sign was directed to the Faux (Fox)-news-watching-Henny-Penny-types, who have spent the past few years throwing acorns at their voting base, screaming “THE SKY IS FALLING” and talking ad nauseum about how liberals are trying to ruin the world with their equal rights, social programs, and alternative energy plans. Damn us liberals, with our progressive thinking and constitution following.

There were a few folks who appreciated the sign’s “Suck it Up” message, but disagreed with included children in the political game. (I’d like to point out that even as they disagreed, they were respectful– such a refreshing change when one is debating parenting choices.)

Some doubted that Z knew what the sign meant. Yes, at 4 he does understand–and has deemed it dumb–that adults struggle with nice words and teamwork. After all, aren’t these the “grown up” rules of polite behavior that I continue to talk about with him? Isn’t self-control the very reason that I don’t chase down and punch the SUV-driving, phone-texting woman that cut me off in traffic. Because I’m an adult. Theoretically.

Some questioned involving my child– what about the other side, including their children to follow the parents’ misguided beliefs? What about the little kids repeating their parents’ anti-equality message? As much as I despise adults teaching children to hate, and as much as it pains me to say this– the First Amendment protects both those that agree, and disagree, with my politics.

ARGHHHH— gawd, that really did hurt. But it’s true and to feel otherwise is hypocritical. I freely admit to continuing to struggle with my own hypocrisy in this.

However, the other side is certainly going to teach and influence their children– I’m damn sure going to involve mine. It’s their country, too.

Finally, someone questioned whether or not a 4 year old has the emotional and intellectual capacity of comprehending what is being debated. I really sat down and thought about this– and I liked so much how I responded:

Our decision to involve him (and his younger brother, for that matter) was not made lightly– in that we had many of the same discussions about appropriateness of their involvement, etc. But, to use a broad simile–it’s like this: Adults take their children to church, teaching them whatever is pertinent about their faith system. The average 4 year old doesn’t conceptualize the rhetoric of faith–God and Santa get all kinds of mixed up in their heads. [The average religious 4 year old is] really just repeating what they’ve heard and been taught, [rather than truly feeling faith]. Parents take their children to church, involving them in religious practice, in the hopes of instilling a lifelong involvement in that faith’s value system.

I’m a secular humanist, so I have to teach my version of moral lesson– we are all equal– in a more creative, non-churchy way. It’s not like nonbelievers generally get together on Sundays to talk about their non-belief.

To that end “by the people, for the people” *is* my religion; the rally to restore sanity my tent revival (urgh- that’s a Bible Belt-esque reference).

But it’s important (to me) that he [they] be raised comfortable in the process of peaceful dissent. Even if that means, one day, he is peacefully dissenting against my politics.

As I typed out my response that night, I was reminded that finding that type of moral foothold is a nonbelievers parenting challenge. As I read the responses from other adults, with their own memories of protesting as children (anti-war, pro-union) I was more convinced. It occurred to me that the excitement and camaraderie of the tent revival could be replicated in these rallies for equality. And I was stoked that someone had questioned me in such a manner that I was able to think about it, without immediately going on the defensive. It further motivated me to push forward with toting them along to these events. To using my unpaid time here to push my own American agenda. Yes, momsrising— I’m coming for you next. I want my kids to know (and I’m happy I was reminded) that there are small groups of people trying to change the world–for the better–every day.

Neither of them are going to learn that insulated in my living room, or at the pool, or even in preschool.

Now, would I take my children to a pro-NRA rally? No. People bringing assault rifles to a peaceful protest scare me. Are they going with me to a rally to fight SB106— proposed anti-gay legislation in my own home state? Yup. My little herd will go, with a close friend who happens to be a SAHM to triplets, in a loving, committed relationship with a woman she’s not allowed to marry. That’s just bullshit. And, in the words of Z– “a family with two moms would be cool. A family with two dads would be super cool, too.” (At this point, Dads are cooler than moms– I hear it’s developmentally appropriate, though it makes my inner feminist a bit twitchy.)

Now, I just need to come up with another cool sign. No pressure.

2 thoughts on “Allowing Kids to Participate in Politics

  1. Pingback: Explaining the Defense of Marriage to Children | | ScattermomScattermom

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