Being a Mom During Election Year

“When did you know you were a Democrat?”
“Well, I prefer to say I’m Lefty McLiberal, but for the sake of argument we’ll stick with Democrat. Honestly? I think I was born one.”

LilZ and I had that exchange recently. I didn’t go into more detail as the timing was bad and we were surrounded by McCain supporters, but I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about that question and my answer in the last few days. Especially as it relates to LilZ’s own developing political identity.

When I say I was “born” this way, I don’t mean that the fiscal and social liberalism was programmed into my genetic code. (Although, if it was it would probably be between the gene for curly hair and the gene for my love of office supplies.) What I mean is that those ideas were set into my personal framework at an early age. Whether it’s nature or nurture, I’m not sure. But – I’ve rarely ever strayed from the ideals I hold true today. Maybe it’s because my Dad was always accepting of everyone, regardless of background. Maybe it was his extreme generosity to those in need. Maybe it was my years of listening to the Grateful Dead and wearing tie-dyed t-shirts. All I know is that, somewhere in there, the seed of my political beliefs was planted. Since my father is not Lefty McLiberal like I am, he may be mortified to find he is partly to blame.

I almost wish I did know exactly how/when my political beliefs were shaped. I would love to be able to force my own beliefs on my children. (What? I’m not supposed to admit that?) I would love to be raising a brood of progressives, but all of us who differ from our parents in any way know this one truth: The more you try to force something on your children, the more they’ll want to reject it.

So – I take my kids to the rallies and to the debate watch parties. I talk to them openly about what is going on and how I feel about it. I want them to know my beliefs…and I want them to see me actively supporting politicians that will fight for what I believe in. I also want them to at least be respectful to those who disagree. And to know that even those who disagree can teach us something valuable if we are open enough. What they do with these lessons and how they vote in adulthood is their decision to make, not mine. If they choose to vote for a conservative somewhere down the road, I’ll deal with it.

But mark my words – If I ever catch them listening to country music or rooting for any football team coached by Steve Spurrier (past or present), they’re out of the will.

(Just kidding! Nothing against country music!)

18 Comments

18 thoughts on “Being a Mom During Election Year”

  1. That’s so awesome that you take your kids to rallies and talk with them about the issues. I never had those kinds of discussions with my parents, so I just had to figure it all out on my own. Keep doing what you’re doing – they’ll appreciate it in the long run.

    (Oh, and you’ve been tagged! See http://lenexicon.blogspot.com…)

  2. I have different political leanings from my parents, similar to my grandparents on my mom’s side. Our family tends to talk a lot about politics, both on the grand national scale and the smaller, more local issues. And we definitely talk about how political decisions can affect us personally. I remember even ten years ago we didn’t really have those kinds of discussions, I think out of some sort of misconception that it would tick my grandparents off if they found out that not everyone believes the same way they do. But the family has definitely found out that we can love and support each other and have different political views. That often we have the same moral beliefs with differing ideas how to show them and how the government should dovetail with them. I really don’t know how I came to have different beliefs from my parents. I guess just a lot of reflection.

    On another note, “Real men don’t wear visors!!” I was happy my Tigers beat USC on Saturday, though I was definitely on the edge of my seat a lot! I saw Spurrier throw his headset at least twice, and kick it once. I’m all about the smack talk, but that man has made it an art. It’s all in the eye of the beholder, I guess!

  3. That’s such an interesting question- how you are shaped to think what you think. My dad is a die hard right winger and my mom is a total liberal and I think that’s what shaped me the most. my dad was always so angry about EVERYTHING and my mom was just so matter of fact about her ideas. Even though I don’t agree with either of them on everything, and I agree with my father on hardly anything, I’m just grateful my parents raised me think for myself and that’s my goal with my kids as well.

    I always tell my husband that I would rather he cheat on me than choose to vote for a republican :)

  4. Okay, I don’t get the Spurrier stuff. Is that like us and Franchione?

    Anyway, my entire family (grandparents, too, when they were alive) are Republicans. Big business all the way, no taxes if we can get away with it, etc.

    It can get so heated at times, I’m considering not going home for Christmas. Me and my merry band of Obama supporters don’t “fit in” anymore.

    My son announced the other day that McCain was going to outlaw Ipods because they give you cancer. I’m working (quickly) to correct the misinformation that the other schoolkids spread, but it IS interesting to see their priorites at the age of 10… (yes, I told him McCain wasn’t really taking away the Ipods. But I do need to tell him also about Tipper Gore…)

  5. Interesting question. I’v neer thought about when my beliefs started or where they came from. My 8 year old has asked me a couple of times who I want to be the President. I freely admit that I am voting for Obama. When I tell her that, she says “yeah, me to”. So, maybe that’s where it starts, although I haven’t explained my reasons to her. I’ve told her before that just because I like something, doesn’t mean she has to like it to, but, I guess, they are kids and they learn by example.

    Which is good because I may have to disown her if she grows up and becomes a Republican. :)

  6. I just posted about being “born left” the other day. I don’t remember having any kind of political epiphany either: I’ve always embraced my parents politics. Not a bad thing, I don’t think.

  7. I was actually just thinking about this recently as well. Did you hear about the guy that named his baby “Sarah McCain Paulin”? When him and his wife had decided on something totally else? I think I said, what a way to force your child’s thinking. You WILL be Republican or else! (I did say that if they had named the baby the Democratic way it would be the same) I think what you are doing is good…letting your kids know where you stand, and letting them decide from there.

  8. I think it’s great that you’re teaching your kids about politics and sticking up for your beliefs while still respecting other differing ideas. I’m a big political dummy – I wish my parents had taught me more about being passionate for what runs the country!

  9. I remember being little, 2nd grade maybe, and just starting to learn about Democrats and Republicans. And my thinking then was “Republicans has the word “public” – that must mean it’s good for the people.” Ha. So cute, wasn’t I?? But in spite of my dad being republican and my mom democrat, I learned around the age of high school that I aligned to the liberal side. I think it was because I always had this “fear of God” thing, and although I wasn’t necessarily religious, I was scared NOT to believe. And the Jesus I believed in would want things like his people to be healthy, equal rights for everyone, and people to be treated fairly. Of course, now my religious beliefs have changed, but I still believe that a Christian God is inherently good, not bad, and I can’t buy that argument from the right that they vote that way because of religion.

    (Holy cats, I sure went off on a tangent.)

  10. Talking about election, I was on some other side recently and the sidebar had an ad for those Obama finger things (like the giant hand but I have no idea what they are called.) I don’t normally notice the ads but this one caught my eye cause I found myself saying… hey isn’t that Zoots kid?? and it was! Great picture. Anyway, had to delurk to tell you that.

  11. My 4th grader was like, “Who are you going to vote for?,” and I was all braced for a big political discussion, but then he was like, “Oh. Who’s that?”

  12. My Dad would avoid present day politics in discussion and just talk about historical politics like the wars and stuff like that.

    I have no idea which I am when it comes to UK politics but my God-daughters maternal grandfather is a local MP so I have to be diplomatic when I go round for tea hehe.

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