Mothers of Intention — SoCal Mom on Indoctrinating Our Children


Welcome to this week’s edition of PunditMom’s Mothers of Intention series! This week, my guest is my fellow MOMocrat and 50-Something Mom blogger Donna, who also blogs as SoCal Mom. I’m excited to have her here “visiting” from the West Coast. I know by the time I get this posted, she’ll be getting her first cup of coffee!

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I don’t know if my 12-year-old daughter is all that interested in politics, or if it’s just a byproduct of the fact that I listen almost exclusively to NPR when driving her to school in the morning.

Four years ago, I realized that she actually paid attention to some of those news reports, when she suddenly started asking me questions about that year’s Presidential election.

“Who are you voting for, Mommy?”

Back then, I was reluctant to share with her my views of the direction our country had taken. I want my daughter to think for herself, to form her own opinions, and to have respect for the opinions of others, even if they are different than hers – or mine.

At first, I did not tell her that I despised the sight and sound of the people who have been leading our country since the year she started kindergarten, or that I considered them (at best) to be the most outrageous liars to ever hold office, or (at worst) criminals who should be impeached and prosecuted.

“I’m voting for John Kerry,” I told her. “Because I think he will do a better job than President Bush.”

That’s an understatement. The Three Stooges in all their anarchic glory could not have wreaked the same havoc on the world as Bush/Cheney and their gang of neo-cons, religious zealots and thieves (i.e., Halliburton).

But I kept that opinion to myself. Our children need to be taught to respect our President, our government, and our national institutions. I want my child to be able to argue a point without resorting to name calling, and to always remember that the person she is debating is another human being, with intellect and feelings – just like her.

So I told her that Republicans and Democrats both want what is best for our country; we just don’t always agree on how to accomplish it.

I really believe that to be true – at least, about my family and friends who identify with one party or another. And back then, I wanted to believe that men and women who go into politics do so out of a desire to make this country a better place.

But as that 2004 election wore on, and I watched Karl Rove and his minions “Swift Boat” Kerry and obfuscate the reasons we went to war with Iraq… as it became increasingly obvious that Abu Ghraib was just a drop in the bucket and that our nation’s leaders were now endorsing torture as a means to an end … as the Department of Homeland Security seemed to issue warnings with the express purpose of keeping Americans scared (instead of safe) …

… and as Bush went on to a second term, I came to the conclusion that he and his advisers were simply in it for the power (and the money their policies could make for their cronies).

The outrage I felt over this administration grew — as well as my anger at the 51% of my fellow electorate who thought voting for him would be a good idea.

So I’ve been less circumspect these last four years. Especially since the President’s press conferences always seem to be held during our morning commute. I probably shouldn’t listen to George W. Bush while driving; it is a bad combination that usually leads to a barrage of naughty words I’d prefer my daughter didn’t know (especially coming from ME).

My daughter has no doubt as to what I really feel about our Republican president and the direction our country has taken during the course of his Administration. She knows what happened on 9/11 and she knows I supported retaliation in Afghanistan. She knows that we didn’t finish our job in that country before chasing after Saddam Hussein in Iraq. And she knows that I don’t know WHY we did that; we’ve never had a satisfactory answer to that question.

I’ve told my daughter that her future has been mortgaged to other countries to pay for this war because the Administration felt it more important to cut taxes for the wealthiest Americans. She’s heard my opinion on oil, energy and the environment.

Right now, my daughter has opinions and for the most part, they are an echo of mine.

She’s only 12. She’s about to enter her rebellious years, when she’s apt to do anything she can to shock her father and me.

If she really wants to do a number on me, a good way to do so would be to become a young Republican.

And if she truly ends up identifying with the ideals of the GOP, I promise to respect her choices, because that’s the American way.

But in the meantime, I’m proud to be raising a young Democrat. This year, Megan had an opinion of her own:

“I think you should vote for Hillary,” she said. “We should have a woman President.”

I don’t know if my daughter became a Hillary supporter for any reason other than gender identification, but I was thrilled that she had that choice. In fact, I was thrilled with all of our choices on the Democratic side of the ballot, and fervently hope that the party will get itself focused on the task of supporting our eventual nominee – whoever that will be.

And I’m now counting the days until January 20, when our long, national nightmare is over. I’m not naïve enough to think we can quickly solve the problems wreaked by Bush/Cheney; I don’t expect to see the end of it in my lifetime. But at least, we will have a new beginning, a new President and a new Administration…

…one that I can show respect for in the presence of my child.

Donna, thanks for stopping by today! You can read previous Mothers of Intention posts by checking out every Wednesday’s posts!

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4 Responses to “Mothers of Intention — SoCal Mom on Indoctrinating Our Children”

  1. Amy Says:

    Great post. It reminds me of the enormous responsibility I have before me as my daughter turns two in June. Raising a free-thinker that will hopefully contribute to the betterment of the world – it’s an awesome task.

  2. Florinda Says:

    I read Donna’s blog regularly, and it’s great to see her over here!

    Politics is like many other things – kids aren’t going to pick it up out of thin air. You have to expose them. At first they do tend to echo your opinions, but eventually they’ll form their own…and those may still echo yours, but maybe they won’t.

    My son was exposed to discussion of current events, including politics, since grade school, and now (post-college) he’s well-informed and quite opinionated (and living in D.C., by the way). My 13-year-old stepdaughter is getting interested now too. My 8-year-old stepson is only interested in Pokemon these days, but he’ll come around if we keep the conversation going.

  3. Aly Says:

    Great post!

    My daughters have been going to polling places and talking politics with me since their birth — they are engaged and articulate within the political process. Sometimes, they get frustrated.

    Last month, we wrote down the questions they had been asking. They wanted me to send them to McCain, Clinton and Obama to find out the answers. So far — no answer. For the story, check my blog — http://www.historythruthelookingglass.wordpress.com

    Take care,
    Aly

  4. Karoli Says:

    As you know, DG has had quite the political initiation this year and I’m thankful that she’s passionate and thinking about it.

    When I was her age, I did rebel in exactly the way you dread. Growing up in Glendale (the last bastion of the John Birch strongholds in the LA area), I joined my little Republican friends in the neighborhood to GOTV for Nixon. (yes, slap me now, I’m still paying penance)

    I do count that as rebellion, for which I was paid back in spades when Nixon resigned.

    Became a Democrat, embraced it, never turned back, though there are certain circumstances that would drive me to become an Independent voter. I’m hoping that doesn’t happen. For now, I’m just grateful I’ve got a daughter who is so engaged at this age.

    It’s magic to watch the next generation catch fire and care.


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