Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Wisdoms of the son

When I was a kid I hated when my dad was modest. As a parent, I find that I'm just like my dad, especially when it comes to politics. Kids don't need to know about politics, and what they do know they can figure out on their own.

"Who are you going to vote for for president?" my son asked. He's nine.

"You know I can't tell you that," I said.

"I know," he said, "You're gonna vote for McCain."

"What makes you think that?"

"Dad, I also think you are a republican."

"What makes you think that?"

"Because I read your blog."

"When do you read my blog? It's just a bunch of boring politics." You just told me the other day you hated politics.

"I read it all the time." When do you have the time. "I see that all your stories are either about republicans or McCain. So, I figure that you are a republican and you like McCain."

"I've written 12 posts about Obama."

"Are any of them good things about Obama?"

He got me there. However, I have agreed with Obama from time to time.

"I've written some not so nice things about McCain," I said.

"But, dad, you haven't written anything good about Obama. That makes me think that you like McCain."

"You're too smart for me, boy."

"So, who ya gonna vote for?"

"I'm not going to tell you."


The discussion continued later that day:

"So dad," the son said, "Who are you going to vote for for president?"

"You know I cannot tell you that," I said.

"Well, I think I'm going to vote for McCain," he said.

"Why is that?"

"Well, it's not because of the Reverend Wright thing or anything like that. It's because I'm not quite sure Obama knows where he stands on the issues." He rattled off a bunch of facts, and impressed me with his knowledge.

When he completed his reasonings, I said, "How do you know about Reverend Wright?"

"Oh, from talk radio that you make me listen to."

"I never make you listen to talk radio."

"No, but you always listen to it on the way to school, and when you pick me up. You know, the talk radio you listen to."

"I didn't think you even listened. I figured you were too busy playing your game boy, or picking on your sister, or picking your nose."

He gave me his, "you-are-a-doofas look. ""Well, yeah, I do all that, but I listen to the radio at the same time. I can get the jist of it, dad. I know what's going on."

"So, you're admitting you pick your nose."

"Yeah, I do sometimes. But you're avoiding my question: Who ya gonna vote for?"
During the 1980 election cycle I was 10. My mom told me she was going to vote for Carter or Anderson. I had no clue who dad was going to vote for. I never even knew his political affiliation until I was an adult.

I liked Ronald Reagan because -- get this reason -- he was old.

I never talked to my parents about politics at all. Then again, my dad didn't have talk radio to listen to, the Internet, and he didn't read political books all the time like I do.

He did, however, have Walter Cronkite (of whom I remember watching), and he did get the newspaper every day. But those things were boring for me.

I sat down to watch TV, and, to be cool, I turned on my son's favorite cartoon. He sat next to me, and grabbed the remote from me.

Click. Lou Dobbs was now on the screen.

"What are you doing, Jordan?"

"I'm watching the news with you."


"Because it's fun."

"I had your favorite cartoon on."

"I'd rather watch the news with you."

"Yeah right."


I imagine I'll be having political discussions with my son long before he ever had political talks with me. I hope so too, because I love politics.

I suppose there are two approaches to politics when raising your kids: 1) brainwash them 2) encourage them to think for themselves.

Oh, wait, there is also a third, which I'll call the Jay Leno approach. Once in a while, Leno sets up a crew, and asks people simple questions. Many have no clue about common knowledge information like: who's the president? Who's the VP?

My son reads Time for Kids, and makes me read them when he's done because he knows I like that kind of "boring" stuff.

Sometimes I wonder why I blog, or why I read about politics. Then I see my son reading, and my son showing an interest in history and politics, and the answer comes to me.

The Jay Leno method is out. And, however much I'd love to do the brainwashing technique, I really do think it's better for kids to learn to think for themselves.


Khaki Elephant said...

I really enjoyed the read, partly because I have a 9-year-old son as well . . . who doesn't read my blog . . . thankfully.

But I confess that I have told him who I'm voting for and why, from the primaries on. And now he claims to be a republican as well.

Now, my other son cried when John Kerry lost the election. I guess there's a splitter in every family.

Freadom said...

Jordan's friend was over today, and I couldn't help thinking of this post as I listened to his friend tell me how he doesn't like certain Tigers. I wondered if he decided he didn't like those Tigers on his own, or if he was copying his dad's opinion. I don't know either way, it was just a thought I had. And another reminder how important it is to encourage our kids to think for themselves...

...while at the same time leading them in the right direction.

Anthony Palmer said...

This was a very provocative post. Thanks for the read. I think it reminds everyone that sometimes people are smarter than we give them credit for and they also learn a lot by example. If people can learn about sex and drugs from raunchy MTV videos and expletive-laden music they hear on their iPods and violence from video games, they can also learn from Rush Limbaugh, Michael Moore, or some other talking head about various political issues.

Thanks for the anecdote.

DB said...

This was cool. The only thing I remember my father talking about was how he hated taxes and liberals. I didn't know what a liberal was until I was much older, but I heard him say Clinton was one of them!

Khaki Elephant said...

I like your Dad, DB

BTW, my dad (who passed away 9 years ago) told me he only voted Republican once, for Nixon, "and look where that got me."

Nikki said...

This is a great post. While I understand the sentiment of NOT brainwashing your kids with your views...I have to disagree a little. Kids will grow up regardless of what they are taught, making up their own minds...I certainly did. I see plenty of kids making their own choices when entering the world around them. I do try to encourage certain priniples and atributes in my son, but there are some things that are not for him to choose at the moment. While Khaki's 9 year old may adhere to dad's views at the moment, when he is 18 he will be old enough to either break away from that tradition or embrace it. To me it is a choice still. I told my son who I am voting for and why...he can learn later on in life who he wants to vote for. But for now I will explain my views and he will understand them. I think you can explain things to a child without forcing an issue. They are intelligent and reasonable and will soon be independant of us anyway. thats my pennies! :)N

Freadom said...

I guess I prefer my son to find other things to think about than politics. It's something, I'm quite certain, he'll spend most of his adult life thinking about if he grows up to be anything like his dad -- which I think he will.