In 2008, while the presidential election was ongoing, I decided that I wanted to be involved and learn about politics. Both my parents are conservative, but they refused to tell me their political beliefs when I was growing up. My brothers and I would sit at the dinner table and ask political questions, and my parents would tell us to look it up and present our argument the next night. Then, my Dad would continue to ask questions until we could make a solid claim with a solid source. Outside of hot-button issues like abortion, I did not know who my parents voted for or why, I only knew they leaned right.
My parents encouraging me to make up my own mind is extremely important to the person I’ve become. I have two older brothers, and all three of us could not be more different politically. We’re a family with Christian values and strong morals, but our dinner table discussions are nothing short of intense. If anything political is brought up, we immediately find ourselves in a massive debate. It can get crazy, but our parents usually allow us to argue it out, while sometimes playing devil’s advocate.
I did not realize until my friend was over for dinner one night while this was happening, that we are not normal. She was completely shocked that not only did we discuss political issues, but that we all had different opinions.That night I learned that a lot of families either don’t talk about politics or tell their children to believe that they believe.
The mindset that telling your children they don’t know anything and closing off discussion is completely damaging. The same goes for the parents who allow their children to spew out opinions without challenging them, which we see more and more of today. If social media has done anything productive, it has caused kids to become more interested in politics. While it is always a good thing to have young people take an interest in our country, who is in charge of it, and what they are doing, it can become negative when they remain uneducated or have tainted views. That is why it is immensely important for parents to show their kids that you must know why you believe something, rather than blindly following in their footsteps. It may be tempting to challenge them, but don’t coach them.
As a kid, you are allowed to believe in something different from your parents. Even at eight years old, I said I wanted McCain to win the primary, simply because I thought my parents were leaning towards Huckabee. I had no idea why at the time, but I quickly began to pay attention and learned new things to prepare for when my Dad would challenge me. He made me a strong debater because I was never allowed to spill ignorance for the sake of opinion.
Now, I can sit with my family at dinners and discuss current events, as well as political leaders, back up my claims, and have a genuine discussion.The real world exists and the home can shape either bad or really amazing citizens.
Families should not be a hive mind, they should be a think tank.