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Brainwashing Your Kids About Politics Is Not Healthy Or Cute

Brainwashing Your Kids About Politics Is Not Healthy Or Cute

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Brainwashing Your Kids About Politics Is Not Healthy Or Cute
November 14
19:41 2016


Brainwashing Your Kids About Politics Is Not Healthy Or Cute

I’m not going to discuss hypothetical election fallout with people who wear Ninja Turtle PJs to bed. Neither should you

By Amanda Parry

November 10, 2016

The morning after Donald Trump became the president-elect of the United States, my Facebook feed exploded with overwrought parents of young children unsure what to do next.

“What do I tell my kids?” was the question on everyone’s minds, followed by the sentiments, “They’re terrified of Trump,” or “They worshiped Hillary!” Many posted a Huffington Post Parents article in which consultant and PhD Ali Michael urged parents: “Tell them, first, that we will protect them.” Pardon my French, but what the hell?

It’s not that I’m pleased with the outcome of the election. But there’s no way I’m dragging my six- and seven-year-old into the emotional bacchanal that is the current state of American politics. Ask me again when they’re teens or even tweens, but for now I’m not going to discuss hypothetical fallout with people who wear Ninja Turtle PJs to bed.

As much as parents think their children get it, they really, really, really don’t. On the eve of the election, my seven-year-old son asked me if Hillary Clinton wanted to kill newborns, something a friend had told him on the playground. I told him no. At least, not at the inaugural ball.

Before someone wants to debate the finer points of late-term or partial-birth abortions — which is, of course, what this statement was about — let me repeat that my son is SEVEN. I’m waiting to discuss the intricacies of pregnancy termination until he is old enough to say the word “penis” without giggling. We may never get there.

Let Me Introduce You to Age-Appropriate Politics

It’s not that we don’t discuss politics in this house. But we tend to focus on procedure and precedent, not complex policy decisions or the cult of personality surrounding any particular politician. For this election we discussed how people vote and who gets that privilege. I did a rough sketch of the three branches of government. My children were tickled when they heard about the people of Dixville Notch, New Hampshire voting at midnight, all seven of them.

But the majority of the concepts being discussed in these elections — abortion, immigration, terrorism — are so complex, so tinged by human emotion, that trying to explain them to my children would be an exercise in futility. My daughter still doesn’t understand why she can’t use a urinal like her brother, so I’m guessing the finer points of nuclear disarmament might be lost on her. If I can’t expect them to understand these issues, why would I expect them to form opinions on them?

It’s unrealistic to think parents won’t pass along their values to their children. But when my son urged me not to vote with my vagina, I had to ask myself if the world has gone completely mad. As far as I know, it’s physically impossible to vote with your genitals (and I’ve been to Amsterdam).

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